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African Americans


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A citizen or resident of the United States whose ancestry can be traced to Africa. A term intended to avoid the pejorative associations of words such as “negro” and “black.” An estimated 10 to 12 million slaves of African origin came involuntarily to the Americas in the Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, French, and British colonial periods and in the first eight decades of the United States. Their original gene pools, predominantly from west and east Africa, have been mixed with those of their European slave owners, and their cultural ties with Africa have been lost or distorted, but some genetic traits, e.g., tall stature of some lineages and the sickle cell trait, have persisted. African Americans are underrepresented among the best educated professional classes in the United States and overrepresented among the lowest socioeconomic groups and in prisons. They have shorter life expectancy and higher death rates than white and Hispanic Americans from stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and violence. Their access to health-promoting, disease-preventing, diagnostic and therapeutic services is overall disproportionately inadequate. An approximate equivalent term is Afro-Caribbean, but these are not minority groups in their own country as African Americans are in the United States, and their health indicators usually are superior to those of African Americans.

Subjects: United States History.


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