Are Aboriginal Australians Black?

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I'm trying to figure out if aboriginal Australians count as black. I'm not asking if Australians call them black. Australians call people from India black. Aborigines are actually more closely related to Asians than they are to Africans, so even though some Australians, including other aborigines, are happy to use the word 'black' to refer to them, it doesn't tell us if aborigines are black in terms of what Americans mean by the term. I want to know if the word 'black' as it is used in the United States (or perhaps Canada, the U.K., or other places) includes aboriginal Australians among the group it refers to. (In case it turns out that people from different geographical locations would respond differently, it would be nice to know where you're from if you're going to leave a comment.)


I remember asking this question in Australia, but referring to actual colour. The aborigines I came across in central and northern Australia were indeed nearly black in colour, darker than most Africans, but the ones I met on the east coast were only mid-brown. When I asked why, I was told that the coastal ones were in fact mixed blood, perhaps more white than genuine aboriginal, but perceived themselves as aboriginal and followed the culture to some extent - and availed themselves of state benefits e.g. special housing for aborigines.

Are Indians from southern India black? They are also as dark as many Africans. Or what about the Nubians of southern Egypt, who are much darker than Arab Egyptians but nothing like as dark as most Africans?

All this proves is that it is a nonsense to classify people as "black" or otherwise.

As I understand things, Indians from southern India don't have other characteristics typical in Africa, e.g. hair type, facial features, etc. Skin color isn't enough alone. But the question is whether skin color plus these other things is, and aboriginal Australians seem to have that.

Nubians are an interesting case. They have less of all the features than sub-Saharan Africans, as far as I know. They might serve as a borderline case. But they are clearly related to other Africans in a way that Australian aborigines are not, so it doesn't affect the question I'm asking.

As for those with lighter skin, they seem parallel to lighter-skinned blacks in the U.S. So I'm not sure that makers a difference to my question either.

This does not remotely prove that it's nonsense to classify people as black. What it proves is that there might be borderline cases, people who are hard to classify and that there might be different systems of classification. That's true of most things we classify, including species. It doesn't mean that there are no criteria or that there aren't clear cases. There are rules that govern how people use these terms, and I'm interested in figuring out what they are.

I think that if you are using "black" to describe a skin color, then it works (as if describing a person you are attempting to identify).

If you are speaking of origin, it makes more sense to use the place-name.

When describing a culture, aboriginal simply means "having existed in a place from the beginning" and anthropologists refer to Native Americans as aboriginal people.

If politicians refer to Obama as not having the "black experience", then they are speaking of a particular culture in the USA, so here (USA), Australian aborigines would not be "black", since they cannot have had the experience of the civil rights struggle, etc.


It's not just skin color here, since some people with dark skin color don't have any of the other physical features associated with being black.

Do people use the word 'black' to speak of origin? I know I don't.

I'm speaking of aboriginal Australians, not aborigines in the general sense.

The Obama thing is referring to black culture in the U.S., something black people in England have without failing to be black. I don't think that's what would cause most resistance to calling Australian aborigines black. It's their ancestry that seems to me to be the main issue.

Humans began populating New Guinea and Mainland Australia roughly 40,000 years ago via Indonesia. Due to rising sea levels following the end of the last ice-age (10k years ago) Australia and New Guinea became isolated from southeast asia. Genetically, they distinct from Africans, and much closer to Asians despite any initial impressions.

I think Americans mean African when they use the term black. I think part of this has to do with African Americans claiming ownership to a whole lineage of words associated with them throughout American History as well as those they identify with culturally, including black.

The only thing shared by Aboriginals and Africans is an unfortunate subjugation in the last 500 years by Europeans also shared by Native Americans.

I'm sure African Americans have mixed opinions about accepting certain other subjugated peoples like aboriginals as "black" simply because many of them look the same.

I would speculate though that Aboriginals would have a harder time accepting being called black, at least in the states as it would tend to imply mistaken identity.

The only thing shared by Aboriginals and Africans is an unfortunate subjugation in the last 500 years by Europeans also shared by Native Americans.

But that's not really true. It's not even the most obvious thing they have in common. They share the same basic look. The properties of gross morphology that people normally use to identify someone according to race are mostly common to these two groups.

So if the aborigines are receiving special benefits (housing and such)... are we to start calling them Native Australians? I am just kidding.. trying to be funny.

Jeremy, I love your blog. I read it everyday and I have to do a lot of research just to follow the conversations. So thank you for stretching me!

I think from first sight aborigonies are 'black' and it seems quite a lot of somewhat dark skinned people seem to like to associate themselves with being black because of all the strong role models like '50 cents' and 'diddy', for example some polynesians.

So there is an unintelectual way in which they are 'black' but from an intelectual perspective (and we should aim to be intelectual) they are not. the problem probably aries from the way such a simple term as black is applied as a description of a race.

Im from NZ

I think basically is genealogy that should count most, not appearance.

I guess I mentioned subjugation in the question of "is he black or not?" because, I am speculating that the black identity, as seen by the African American majority has more to do with a sense of shared experience and values than appearances.

Think about B.Obama now, and the questions being asked like "Is he black enough?" and on the flip side a guy like Eminem who at the beginning of his career was put through a sort of "test" to see if he would be accepted into the mainstream of black hip-hop... "Is he black enough?"

So basically I think there are two main sides you can take. To me, asking if Obama is black enough is a stupid question because I'm defining black based genealogy...
its a scientific identity.

Some people base the question on shared values and kinship...
its an emotional identity.

I don't know a good argument claiming its an identity based on appearance, and it doesn't belong as part of the scientific or emotionally based arguments.

I'm not talking about black identity. I'm talking about whether the word 'black' can refer to aboriginal Australians without misusing the language. Black identity is something on top of whether someone is black. No one would deny that Clarence Thomas is black. He couldn't be seen as a race traitor unless he really is black. What people question about him is whether he has a black identity. They know nothing about him if they think he doesn't, but where they find a disconnect is between his race and his racial identity. So someone can be black without having a black identity in the sense you're talking about.

I just stumbled across this thread and found it interesting so thought I'd make a late addition. I'm an Australian and have recently moved to the US.

I'm unsure whether your comment that "Australians call people from India black" was meant derisively, as in "Australians don't know any better". Personally, I don't call Indians black I call them Indian. Apart from some ignorant people (which are found in every country), I don't think Australians in general would refer to Indians as black. Yet I have heard some Indians refer to themselves as black so go figure.

I would also not call Australian aboriginies black - I'd refer to them as aboriginal. Aboriginies aren't generally referred to individually as "black" in the mainstream Australian media (as African Americans are in the USA) but are sometimes referred to as a group as "black" when the connotation is that of a positive identity separate from white Australians. (e.g. On a TV show such as Crimestoppers, an aboriginal suspect would not be described as "black" but "of aboriginal appearance". Yet an article in a magazine may have a title of "A Will to Win: The Heroic Resistance, Survival and Triumph of Black Australia".)

Apart from that, often Australian aboriginies refer to themselves as "blackfella" and the white Australian population as "whitefella". But I don't know whether an African American would be included as "blackfella" by Australian Aboriginies and I suspect not - this term is specifically for aboriginies.

In the same way, I don't think the term "black" as used by Americans can include Australian aboriginies at all. I actually don't think it can apply to any group outside of the USA - "black" as used by Americans means "African American". An American using the term "black" to include Australian Aboriginies is no different to an Australian using the term "black" to include Indians - in fact the variety of skin colours found amongst the Australian aboriginal population is very similar to that found amongst the Indian population, if skin colour is all that you are referring to. Personally, I don't think you can take identity out of the equation.

I heard this from someone who is Indian whose husband is Australian. I was assuming she learned it from him, and he's not remotely the type of person who would count as an ignorant racist.

I actually don't think it can apply to any group outside of the USA - "black" as used by Americans means "African American".

I can't accept that. Even if there are people who resist calling Barack Obama black because his black father is African rather than African American, he is still racially black in some sense. Americans can talk about black Africans and white Africans. We can speak of black Hatians, black Hispanic people in Cuba, black British people, and so on. The terms can easily extend to other contexts. I think the resistance to calling Barack Obama black reveals something, but it doesn't mean that there's no sense in which the word can apply to people like him. So I'm wondering if there's no sense in which it can apply to Australian aborigines, and if any sense in which it does should count as racial.

in fact the variety of skin colours found amongst the Australian aboriginal population is very similar to that found amongst the Indian population, if skin colour is all that you are referring to.

But this is because of mixing with whites, right? In that case it's much less like Indian variety (which is found in India completely apart from mixing with whites) and more like the variety of skin colors among blacks in the U.S., which is largely due to mixing with whites.

Personally, I don't think you can take identity out of the equation.

I'm not sure what you're getting at. How do you think I'm taking identity out of the equation? I do think we should distinguish between race and racial identity. Once we've done that, certain things might follow. I don't call that taking it out of the equation. It's just that it's not the same thing as race. Identity concerns might cause certain things to happen that affect who is what race. But how people perceive their own identity racially won't always line up with what race they are assigned to by society.

I am an African American Female, and I know peoples of many nations who refer to themselves as Black. Just as many people from different ethnic groups refer to themselves as White from other countries. My question is why is it that people can be white from other nations, but they can't be Black? And who decides what we call ourselves?

OK ... obviously I can't speak for the whole of Australia but the point I was trying to make is that generally Indians are not referred to as black, they are referred to as Indian. I would never describe one of my best friends to someone as black when she's Northern Indian - she would think it was weird and it wouldn't be an accurate description. So to say "Australians call Indians black" is a big generalisation. Same goes for aboriginal Australians - not generally referred to as black but "aboriginal".

The information regarding the variety of skin colour of indigenous Australians which was posted earlier in this thread is not exactly correct. Aboriginal Australians, despite sharing common ancestory, are comprised of a number of groups with separate cultural traditions, languages and variations in skin colour, based on geographical location (e.g. the Kooris from NSW, the Murris from Queensland). The southern part of Australia has a very different climate to northen Australia, so the amount of melanin in the skin is clearly going to vary amongst a widely dispersed group of people who have lived in the country for approximately 40,000 years.

The usage of the word "black" to describe aboriginal Australians is a tricky one. When used by non-aboriginal Australians it certainly has racial connotations and usually negative ones and, therefore, is generally avoided. There have been a number of incidents (which were given a lot of media coverage in Australia) of aboriginal players being called "black" by non-aboriginal players during professional sports games and the non-aboriginal players being punished by the relevant sports body for racism - which is fair enough, if an aboriginal Australian does not want to be referred to as "black" by a non-aboriginal because it has negative connotations, nobody can argue with that. Therefore, as an anglo Australian, I would avoid using the term as I don't wish to racially insult anyone.

On the other hand, there are aboriginal Australians who embrace the term "black". Again, this is fair enough. But, as an anglo Australian, I would still not use the term because clearly not all aboriginal Australians would be comfortable with it being used to describe them. I believe it is for this same reason that the term "black" is only used in the media in Australia when it has positive connotations e.g. "Black Pride", not when it refers to an aboriginal Australian as an individual. So, the term "black" as it applies to aboriginal Australians is totally acceptable when used to describe identity but not so acceptable when used to describe race.

To tell the truth, I found it difficult adjusting to the way the term "black" is used in the USA because for me (given the above) it has negative racial connotations if I use it to individually describe someone. Same as for me, being called "white" has negative racial connotations because if I'm called that in Australia it is normally in a derogatory way. So, in answer to your question RaeJene, in my opinion YOU decide what you call yourself, definitely not me - African Americans seem to be generally happy with being called black because it obviously doesn't have the negative connotations that it has for many aboriginal Australians. I don't have a problem with people referring to themselves as black and wanting me to refer to them as black as long as they are happy with the term. It's just not what I'm used to. I can also tell you that when the term "white Australia" is used, it doesn't normally have positive connotations, it is normally used in the context of differentiating in order to point out the injustices perpertrated against indigenous Australians - not something to be proud of at all.

Personally I don't like the terms white and black as nobody is REALLY the colour black nor the colour white, we're all varying shades of brown and beige and it seems just to be used to distinguish people by their skin colour, not their actual race e.g. there are dark-skinned, medium-skinned and light-skinned Moroccans but they all have the same (very mixed) racial ancestory so what is the point of distinguising them by "black" and "white"? They are Moroccan.

In America Being Black Does NOT mean you are African American; No matter what the american media says. Jamaicans, Bahamians, Cubans, Dominicans, American Indians (seminoles for example, Are all Black in General Terms but not necessary African.

As an American, who calls herself "Black" let me say that it highly annoys me that people equate Black with African American. I am NOT African American...even though by American slavery standards anyone with 1 drop of African blood is "African American". Of Course it's funny to me that my African Bloods comes from my African-Cuban Grandfather (mother's side). But depending on who you talk to this is of no importance since I have no Cuban Culture.

I often wonder if Chinese children who are adopted by White parents are therefore not considered Chinese becuase they don't have the "Chinese Experience" or culture.

My mother is 1/2 African-Cuban, 1/8 Irish (Black Irish which where actually Spanish/moors that ground in Ireland and mixed in) and 1/8 American Indian (Blackfoot and Crow).
Should I confuse the matter by saying my mother's father is actually 1/4 british, 1/4 Spanish and 1/2 African?

My father is 1/2 unknown White....and Cherokee.

So I'm basically half American Indian, 1/4 Cuban and 1/4 white (Irish).

I know these things because I have my family tree on both sides. But in general it's too confusing to go through that linege every time someone questions me when they meet me for the first time or when coworkers get into water cooler arguments over MY ETHNICITY. (And to comment on the question of hair that someone brought up....I do not have Kinky hair...but then neither do many Somalians).

In American Being Black is more about culure...then being from one paricular place. And being African American is more about politics. (Who stands with who...Much like being Latino...All Latinos are not Mexican).

Think of it like this: People speak in general terms. If I say "He's white" I don't expect to hear in response "AHHHH, His family is Viking or German". So it totally confuses me as to WHY so many people, especially in America, want to lump all blacks with African Americans?

In America, Jamaicans and all people of the Caribbean call themselves Black until you ask them specific questions. When I say I'm Black...Caribbeans actually say "Yes, but where are your people from?" Whereas InnerCity African Americans get upset if you admit to anything other than Black...But let not he ignorant or the media define all people.

Remember there is ancestry, there is Nationality,and there is culture. Most African Americans tell me I "act white but look Spanish or High Yellow". Lots of my Latino friends don't speak spanish either and either accept me as mixed or not depending on how highly they value culture over blood. It helps that many Full BLooded latinos, that I know, also grew up with parents feeling they should assimilate. And Yes, some of those friends, will tell you they are African American....So go fiqure...It's really not an Easy answer. The bottom line is that if you are born in American and your family assimilates you are American and it's easier to generalize and fall under a community banner (especially for political reasons). So depending on the politics I'm Black and Latina...and I waver from one side to the other depending on politics. Just don't bring up Native American Rights because you know what side I'll lean to!!!!

But to answer the original question: Yes to me at least (as an american) Aboriginals are Black...just not African....And Obama is Black just without a Deep American sense of the historical 4 generations or more of being African in America. (That again is why I don't call myself African American...even though the American Black experience is largely what I grew up in).

Anyway, Everyone that reads this will make up their own minds (as it should be). But please open up and realize we all use generic labels for the sake of convience. Remember Even Israelis are Living on what used to be termed part of Africa before they change the peninsula's name to the middle east.

Well, I think it's helpful to distinguish, as Tommie Shelby does, between thin black identity and thick black identity. A thin black identity is the kind of identity formed merely because of how someone looks (i.e. everyone sees them and responds a certain way because they look black). This is true of Clarence Thomas, Barack Obama, and anyone else whose blackness might be questioned in the ways that have come up in this conversation. A thick black identity involves certain cultural connections, behavior patterns, beliefs, and family connection with the most significant black population in the U.S. Clarence Thomas has a lot of that in terms of his upbringing, but his political views disqualify him in some people's minds (even though his reasons for them are based in the lived experience of being black). Barack Obama has only a little of it, and while his political views don't disqualify him his ancestry and later adoption of those patterns (and only some of the time) disqualify him in some people's minds. A black person raised in a white family would be similar, as would African-descended people from other countries.

It's not the thick sense of blackness I'm interested. That's cultural. It's the thin sense I'm interested in, which is racial. In this sense Obama, Thomas, and people from African and the Caribbean can be as black as any American descended from U.S. slaves.

The question, then, is whether aboriginal Australians are black in that sense.

I'm white Australian, my wife is Indian (but sometimes mistaken for an aboriginal)and I have studied Aboriginal culture at university under a lecturer who spent his lifetime working and living amongst aboriginal peoples in central Australia. That doesn't mean my views are any more correct than others, just thought I'd throw that in by way of introduction.
Our lecturer taught us that aboriginal Australians who are still linked to their traditional beliefs - even if Christian - do not think in terms of race or even skin colour but rather in terms of family or clan. So, a white person who is initiated into the lore of a particular clan or group (as some have been) is regarded as fully one of them regardless of skin colour. At the same time, an unitiated aboriginal may not be regarded as fully belonging to the clan. Race doesn't come into it. Race, in fact, is largely a European construction which was introduced into the aboriginal worldview.
But, I have noticed that aboriginal Australians who live in urban areas and are thus more exposed to western/American popular culture have taken to calling themselves "black". This is strange as it was quite common in the past for white Australians to refer to aboriginals as "blacks", although this is not quite so common now. Perhaps its adoption by urban aboriginals people is a way of claiming for positive use what was previously a negative term for themselves.
"Indigenous" is more commonly used now amongst educated whites in preference to "black", as it carries no pejorative connotations.
You might be interested to know that the aboriginal experience in Australia does include a civil rights movement roughly paralelling the black American movement in the 1960s.
I have *never* heard a white Australian refer to an Indian as a "black". They are always called Indians. But most Australians *would* refer to African-Americans as "black Americans".
Hope this helps.

Jeremy and Mark you both making interesting comments.

I think, Jeremy, In the "thin sense" aboriginal australians would then be considered black.

Thanks to all for making this an interesting and enlightening discussion.

Jeremy, Yasmin, et al, I thought it worth adding this: I have heard that up to the 1960s, indigenous Australians who travelled to the US (not many indigenous Australians, btw, would have had that privilege, but some individuals did) were treated as "black" by the whites in your society. But I am quite sure that they would not themselves have related to the black American identity. So I guess that means that in the "thin" sense they may be black, but not in the "thick" sense.
Btw, I think it would be by and large correct to say that when black Americans come to Australia, they are generally not subject to any of the prejudices white Australians have unfortunately inherited in regard to indigenous Australians.

Btw, I think it would be by and large correct to say that when black Americans come to Australia, they are generally not subject to any of the prejudices white Australians have unfortunately inherited in regard to indigenous Australians.

Then why is it considered offensive to call them black? I thought it was considered offensive because they were being associated with a group that has historically been considered lower, i.e. the descendants of Africans. That can't be the reason if the descendants of Africans aren't considered lower. Or are Australians of African descent considered lower than the descendants of indigenous Australians?

This is complicated. Well, I don't think most Australians think of race in the Darwinian terms of lower or higher; perhaps in the past, and then oddly only among intellectuals, but certainly not now. Why is it offensive to call aboriginals "black"? This is difficult to explain, but the term black in regard to indigenous folk would often be used with a certain inflection or non-verbal signals that indicated a pejorative sense was intended. But this was really a cultural, not a racial clash, _imo_.
That's also why Indians were never referred to as blacks in colloqiual language, because they did not share the cultural characteristics of the indigenous people which white Australia found offensive. The same with African-Americans. Here's an example - in the 1970s Australia's favourite pop singer was an African-American import, Marcia Hines. She is presently universally repsected here and a judge on Australian Idol. I think it might be true to say that her "race" actually opened doors for her here, rather than being a hindrance to her career. Only now could an indigenous Australian hope to receive such adulation and fame in that field, and in fact several indigenous singers have made it to the finals of that show and secured record contracts (I'm not really a fan, just find it interesting sociologically).
Oh yes, and Australians call African-Americans "black Americans" because they know it is not impolite to do so; it is an adoption of the common American usage.
Being a multi-cultural society, most white Australians accord a high priority to getting along with all people, regardless of colour, "race" or origins. Social cohesion is highly valued. That's not to say there are not social problems in some areas, or individual racists, but being openly racist is definitely placing oneself beyond the pale (no pun intended!).
Jeremy, when all is said and done, I just don't think race is the issue in Australia that is appears to be in the US. I'd be interested in what other Aussies would say in regard to that.

Perhaps one way to get at what you're saying is that the Australian problems similar to U.S. race problems are not about race but about something else, e.g. culture or ethnicity or something else in the area.

Regardless, the issue I'm mainly concerned about is what people in the U.S. will say about aboriginal Australians. Are they black in the thin, racial sense I outlined above, according to what people in the U.S. mean when they call people black? Ultimately the issues about whether or why Australians call people black will not answer the primary question I'm interested in, even if those issues are interesting for other reasons.

Yes, I think it would be fair to say that.
There is a difference between the paternalism that white Australia displayed towards the aborigines up until c1967, and a full blown racist doctrine. Australians are pragmatic, not ideological. Racism is fundamentally opposed to the egalitarianism which is central to our ethos. While a minority of Australians may still harbour bigotry towards indigenous folk, people who espouse racist doctrines are regarded as "ratbags", i.e. one should be wary of them.
Also, I realise much of this was ancillary to your concern, but I hope it was of interest nonetheless. Although Australia and the US are superficially similar at the surface cultural level, at a deeper level they are quite different. Therein lie the problems of making easy comparisons, I think.
Can I suggest that in most parts of the US Australian aboriginals would de facto be regarded as racially black, even though culturally they have nothing to do with that identity? Does that make sense?
I'm also interested in how Indians are perceived in the US. My wife has several relatives who feel quite comfortable in the US, but they live in California. How is it elsewhere in the country, I wonder?
Btw, early in our marriage my wife confided in me as to the typical Indian attitudes towards whites: we are uncultured, ill-mannered, insensitive, dirty (because we don't douche our bottoms after going to the toilet) and we have an odd and offensive smell! It was an eye-opener for me :-)

Attitudes toward Indians vary. Among college-educated people of my generation, particularly in the northeast and on the west coast, Indians are probably regarded as smart, hard-working people, because many of the Indians they've been exposed to have been. Among working class America, you'll probably find people thinking Indians are like the Apu stereotype from the Simpsons (i.e. the convenience store worker or taxi driver). You might find some who immediately think of Muslim terrorists when seeing Indians in traditional garb, especially in more rural environments or among older people. So I think it's a mixed group of reactions.

I find this question to be un-ethical in all forms. Truly, why is it important? Understanding, that I don't care to ask, "Why do white people tint their skin?"
I, for one don't consider aboriginal Australians, nor African americans as being Black, nor do I consider them as Africans. Logically, I have always believed if I was born in Africa (and raised up culturally) then I am African. And if I'd moved to America, I would be considered as an African American, not the other way around. However, if you want to categorize dark people as being "Black"(including aborigines), please consider the fact that, most of Us are mixed with euro blood,(as I am) which would explain our diffrent features (as we all Do Not look alike!), skin color, eye color and hair textures. Now, I am not dening we aren't mixed with African decendents, bc we are,until proving otherwise. But Bc history has been tampered with,we may never know why aboriginies look soo unique compared to other dark skin people of the world. Their trully beautiful people.

I, for one don't consider aboriginal Australians, nor African americans as being Black, nor do I consider them as Africans.

Not considering African-Americans to be black is what I would consider to be un-ethical. Pretending that racial classification doesn't occur masks social phenomena about race and perpetuates it because we can't address it. Racialization is very real, and it's a huge mistake, and I would say an immoral one, to pretend it doesn't go on. We have a moral obligation to recognize social ills.

Logically, I have always believed if I was born in Africa (and raised up culturally) then I am African. And if I'd moved to America, I would be considered as an African American, not the other way around.

You're using the term 'African' to refer to continental and cultural origin. That's not what I'm talking aboutt. I'm talking about race here.

However, if you want to categorize dark people as being "Black"(including aborigines), please consider the fact that, most of Us are mixed with euro blood,(as I am) which would explain our diffrent features (as we all Do Not look alike!), skin color, eye color and hair textures. Now, I am not dening we aren't mixed with African decendents, bc we are,until proving otherwise.

I never denied any of this. In fact, it's very important for a number of things. I'm not sure what it has to do with what I'm talking about, though. The fact that most black Americans have a lot of European ancestry doesn't stop them being classified as black racially.

But Bc history has been tampered with,we may never know why aboriginies look soo unique compared to other dark skin people of the world. Their trully beautiful people.

I'm not sure what you mean by history being tampered with. History happened, and it's what it is. It involved people mixing at some times and places, and it involve people being isolated from each other at other times and places. I don't see how any of that counts as tampering. It simply occurred.

As for beauty, I haven't been talking about that at all. Everything I've been saying is consistent with whatever view you might happen to hold about who is beautiful and who is not. I'm not doing aesthetics here. I'm doing metaphysics.

Truly, why is it important?

Well, race is a real issue. We've classified people into races, and society treats people racially according to those categories. To explain real social phenomena, we need to talk about race. We need to analyze what people mean by their racial terms and racially-tinged practices. So I'm interested in what race is, what determines racial classifications, and what racial terms mean. So here I'm interested in what people mean by the word 'black'. Does it include Australian aborigines? If so, then it has implications for the theory of race that I'm offering in my dissertation on the philosophy of race.

Are you taking anthropological views of race into consideration in your dissertation as well as the social and political constructs? It seems to me that the socio-political construct of race has survived in some societies long after the anthropological notion of race has moved on.
(It always amuses me when in American TV cop shows "Caucasian" means white - as if a "Caucasian" person cannot be brown or black skinned!)

Mark, I have no idea what distinction you're relying on. Could you explain what you mean by anthropological race as opposed to social and political constructs? Do you mean something like a biological view?

By and large, the word 'Caucasian' is synonymous with the term 'white' for most people in the U.S., and since usage determines meaning that means the terms are often functionally synonymous. That wasn't always the case, but I think it largely is now.

Yes, I'm talking about the biological evidence for race. As far as I understand it(and I confess at the outset to be a layman when it comes to anthropology, so check out what I say for yourself), most scientists who work in this area now concede that ideas of race coming out of the 18th & 19th centuries are not presently sustainable on a scientific basis. Advances in genetic analysis in particular have exploded the idea of discrete racial groups. Rather, what is observed is a continuum from the darkest African to the fairest northern European where genetic pools overlap one another.
The problem with the social construct of race is that it tends to rely on readily identifiable physical characteristics despite scientific evidence that such characteristics are in fact only superficial indicators of ethnic origin. Virtually all of the physical characteristics that are commonly thought to be specific to one race are actually present in most of the larger ethnic groupings. (Didn't National Geographic do an exercise in this several years ago where people were asked to identify about 20 individuals' racial background from photographs? The editors rightly took great delight in subsequently pointing out the errors most respondents made.)
But the socio-political construct persists despite scientific advances. The example of Caucasian = white in US colloquial language is a good one: it was not even accurate when anthropologists believed Caucasian was a valid racial grouping, as in practice it presumably excludes several dark skinned ethnic groups (e.g. several north African and middle-eastern peoples as well as a good proportion of the population of India) who were always classified as Caucasian in the scientific literature of the day because they were all believed to be descended from an original group who migrated outwards from the region of the Caucasus.
Sorry, I don't have any references readily to hand, but I did some fairly wide reading in this area several years ago.

No one today thinks the 18th-19th century biological conceptions of race can be fit to contemporary science. There are scientists and philosophers today arguing for a biological conception of race. I think a few of those conceptions refer to something real, but I don't think those classifications will match up with actual racial groups. For instance, one of these categories places a lot of stock in ancestral tree structures, and that means some East Asian or Pacific Island groups are closer to Africans than they are to other East Asian or Pacific Island groups. (I don't remember the details offhand, but I remember if not fitting with common racial classifications.)

The problem with the social construct of race is that it tends to rely on readily identifiable physical characteristics despite scientific evidence that such characteristics are in fact only superficial indicators of ethnic origin. Virtually all of the physical characteristics that are commonly thought to be specific to one race are actually present in most of the larger ethnic groupings.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by "the problem with". If the goal is to make our social constructs correspond with groups that fit with what's biologically non-arbitrary, then this is a a problem. But that's an unrealistic goal, and it would defeat the purpose of calling it a social construction. The point of calling it a social construction is that there really is a social phenomenon of dividing people according to visible characteristics, and that social phenomenon generates a social category. Just as with other social categories (e.g. conservative, liberal, university professor, president, boundary line, copyrighted material) you end up with a real group whose origin is not connected up with anything determined by biology alone. But that doesn't mean it doesn't exist, because it's a social category.

Now another thing you might mean is that the process of socially creating race involved some immoral decisions to go with arbitrary features as definitive of something deeper than a social construction. That's certainly true. It's also a historical fact, and it led to the practice of treating these groups as important, thus making socially-caused races, which are therefore real entities just as universities, nations, and corporations are real entities. The problem is that people have false beliefs about these entities, and that's what we need to fight against. It doesn't mean the races don't exist. Social practices make them what they are, and there's nothing we can do about that except perhaps to push social practices in a different direction so as to change how people think of the groups gradually.

Accuracy when it comes to the reference class of a given word depends entirely on what that word means, which in turn depends entirely on how people use it. I don't think very many people use the word 'Caucasian' as a technical term the way it used to be used in the days of biological notions of race with all that cranium-measurement stuff. In my experience, it more or less maps on to how people use 'white'. So I don't think any mistake is being made when people use them as synonyms. But there's even support for synonymy among those doing old-style racialist science. See the Arthur de Gobineau quote in the Wikipedia entry.

Ultimately, what I'm concerned about is that social constructs of race often rely on outdated science or psedo-science to perpetuate stereotypes and injustice, and they often continue to exist solely to subvert the bonds of human fellowship in multi-ethnic societies (that probably makes me sound like a left-winger, but actually I'm a social conservative,at least in Australian terms, fwiw). That's what I mean by "the problem with..." So, I would see the continued misuse of the word Caucasian to mean white as not merely ignorant but also problematic because it perpetuates unhelpful distinctions. That's probably why police forces in most (all?) other English speaking countries have long since abandoned its use.
I agree, one can write about the cultural and social phenomenon of race in an analytical way without reference to a scientific basis, purely sociologically, but I wonder whether a philosophical approach, which is ultimately concerned with the question of truth, does not require interacting with the anthropological theories? But that is really dependant on the scope of your dissertation.
It's a very interesting subject area to be working in.

Wow, this is a very interesting thread. I am a person of Spaniard, Puerto Rican and African American ancestry. I am medium brown and I have been leary of visiting Australia because I have heard they are very racist. Now, this thread is refreshing as I see that Australia is more mixed then I previously believed.

In America, whether or not you would be considered "black" depends on what part of the country you are in. The larger cities understand that not everyone with a darker shade is of totally African American descent. However, in less culturally diverse parts of the US, everyone with a darker shade is considered black. I live in NYC and most try to figure out what ethnicity I am as I look mixed.

Funny but African Americans tend to be very mixed themselves. Many have Native American blood and white blood. Slave masters mixed with the female slaves and there was interbreeding between the Native Americans and African Americans years ago. For the most part, they are more mixed then those in the Carribbean islands (ex Jamaica, Virgin Islands). It seems as though we are obsessed with race here in the US instead of embracing that we are all American.

i think that australians should be noted as their own race, because there is no direct correlation between austalians and africans besides skin tone. And i can always tell the difference between an african from an aboriginee.

and by the way im nigerian

I don't think the term `black`' is an insult in any sence, and the concept `black' should be viewed in colour and not the place or geographical location. Let it be categorical, blacks in Africa, black in Asia,black in America and black in Australia, what wrong with that? It is like the way we have white in America, but the original home is Europe, should we then deny the fact that the American are white?.. It is the colour of the skin and that is not a black and proud of is my colour, so is white and red. It should not be a labelling factor or be used to deny others their basic right they deserve...

But American whites are white because they're descended from Europeans. Aboriginal Australians aren't descended from Africans, at least not in anywhere the same kind of recent descent that you might think matters for race. I suppose, though, that we ought to factor in the common African ancestry that the scientific consensus holds to be true of all of us. The first humans were black, and the Australian aborigines and Africans today are descended from them without losing their blackness the way other peoples have. If you think about it that way, it's hard to resist seeing Australian aborigines as black.

The point of labeling is to be accurate. What counts as accurate in this kind of case is if it fits with people's actual usage, since that's what generates racial groups as social kinds.

I am what many and I would call an African American woman. Both my parents have dark skin and are from America. Their ancestors for many generations have also come from here. However, how can one classify me as being black when I have England (white) great great great grandfather on my fathers side and a great great Indian (I think Cherokee) on my mothers side. However, I am Carmel complexion everywhere but my face, a very light brown to rosy pink complexion in my face (which really looks very white in the winter and when I take pictures) at the moment with a wide nose, high cheek bones, almond eyes, curvy hourglass figure (big butt, big thighs, big breasts, flat stomach), kinky hair when it is not relaxed, full sized lips, and brown eyes. However, when I was born I had more slanted like eyes, full naturally curly hair (not kinky), and I was lighter completed. And no it was not just because I was a baby that I was light completed it was until I started getting into doing a lot of outside activities that my skin got darker to a Carmel instead of a light bright black girl. One thing many people need to learn about some black people hair is that yes most of us do have kinky or nappy hair (by the way there is nothing wrong with saying nappy because I love and embrace my roots). Actually my sister (we don’t have the same father is she is darker skinned than I (more of a very dark brown color). However we both were born with very curly hair and were naturally like this until we put relaxers on our hair. People need to know that many black people hair texture changes due to the harshness of relaxer ingredients onto the hair. Also when I was born my nose was not as big as it is now and actually got bigger when I started to gain weight. I am 5’3” and weigh 130 pounds, but I am not fat because I have the hour glass shape. Most of my weight is in my butt, hips, and thighs. However up until I was 13 I was only 95 pounds (but I still had a big butt, but not big thighs and hips). So my point is just because you have certain features at the moment does not mean they can’t be alerted due to things like climate, relaxers, perms, weight gain, etc.. I have attached some websites that I think you all should check out. Some of you may know about it and some of you may not. It basically is saying that they believe all mankind came from one color and this color was not white. It was a dark color and we all evolved to other colors due to migration and things of that sort. So I honestly think I should be considered an American woman of dark complexion. However, if their findings are very true they say we all came from Africa. Therefore I guess really whites are White African, blacks are Black African, and so on. However, my skin is not black it is more brown (but don’t get it confused I think the black color is beautiful), therefore I am a Brown American. So I guess I could classify myself along with some Latinos, Hispanics, Whites, Indians, and Asians in the same category. Also I think that therefore I would consider there to be Black Americans who are also from those same ethnicities. Therefore I would have to say that I would the ones of black skin color to be black Aboriginals, the ones of brown skin color to be brown Aboriginals, and white skin color to be white Aboriginals. However, this is just another way to divide us up into groups. Why do we need this why can’t we just be HUMANS?

You're 13/16 black and wondering how you can be classified as black? Plessy v. Ferguson legally justified segregation of someone who was 1/8 black as black. The way social classification of races has generally taken place is according to the one-drop rule, whereby someone with any recent black ancestry black. It's a racist rule, but it's still in operation in many places and contexts. It's changing, though, and I think that's good. But it's not hard to see why someone who is 13/16 black will count as black by many people's reckoning, particularly if enough of your visible features are associated enough with what black people are expected to look like.

There's a distinction between being or relatively recent African descent (which is true of you) and being of much further back African descent (which is true of all of us).

I have been comparing skin color between Australian Aborigines and Africans for 11 years now. I collect hundreds of pictures of Australian aborigines. The Blackest Africans occupy the Western, Eastern and Subharran region of the continent. I even compared the blackest Africans to the blackest Australian Aborigines. The Blackest Australian aborigines definitely outblacked the blackest Africans. The blackest Africans have black skin in the shade, but dark grey or almost black skin under direct sunlight. However, the blackest Australian aborigines have pitch black skin in the shade and yet still have completely black skin under direct sunlight. The Buka people in Northeast Papua New Guinea of the South Pacific were famous for having the world's blackest skins yet they are all of Australian aboriginal descent. AND YES EVENTHOUGH HUMANS EVOLVED FROM AFRICA, THE BLACK SKINS OF AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINES WERE SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN NOT TO BE AFRICAN MADE. 99.9% of people deny this true revelation especially many Africans who think that all black skins only belong to them.

It depends on what you mean by "African-made". If you just mean that the particular person doesn't come from Africa, that's fine. If you mean the genes behind the skin color don't ultimately come from Africa, that really does contradict current science, which holds that every person ultimately descends from Africans, and thus all skin color genes are African-made except for the light skin color genes that diverges after the ancestors of other races left Africa.

hat I meant by African-made was that these Australian aborigines were once Southeast Asians who were light skinned and once they entered Australian deserts and their skins turned black. Also, scientists have proven out that the Australian aborigines had no genetic input from outsiders once they entered the continent to the modern era of their present blacks skins. Which means that they did not have dark skins right before they entered Australia. All humans have African genes, however if the blacks skins of Aborigines were directly African made then they wouldn't be called Australian aborigines. Their were atleast five different places between Africa and Australia that humans migrated which took thousands of years. As a result, these migrated people definitely lost all of their African appearances before they even reached South East Asia let alone Australia.

I'm going to need to see some source-citation for claims like that. I do know that aboriginal Australians are genetically closer to some Asian groups than they are to Africans. That's surprising if you consider merely what they look like, but there are two possibilities, the second of which makes a good deal of sense:

1. Asians diverged from Africans, and then they lost their dark skin. At some subsequent point, the branch that led to the aboriginal Australians somehow got it back.

2. Asians diverged from Africans, and then the Asian group split into the ancestors of contemporary Asians, who eventually lost their dark skin, and the ancestors of contemporary Australian aborigines, who did not.

Of those two options, the second is by far the simpler and more likely. Unless you know of some specific evidence for 1 over 2, then I suspect what you've seen is just the fact that Asians diverged from Africans before aboriginal Australians branched off, but that thesis doesn't decide between 1 and 2. It's Ockham's Razor that decides that.

Or are you suggesting scientific evidence for an even more radical thesis, i.e. the idea that dark skin color came later than light skin color? Last I knew that view had been pretty decisively refuted.

This isn't a response to Bob, but a quick Google search for what he might have been referring to did give me something interesting in relation to the broader point of this post. It didn't turn much up in relation to what I was looking for, but the first two searches were the Wikipedia entry for black people) and this post. The Wikipedia entry interestingly discusses indigenous Australians and Australian peoples as if they are one category of black people. There is a comment on the discussion page asking for it to be separated into different pages rather than treating all the groups it includes as being in one category, but nevertheless I do think it's a sign that some people are thinking about this the way I think many do think about it, and that's what matters for my thesis.

There are several scientific sources declaiming that present day Australian Aborigines have African black skins.

1) Luca Cavalli-Sforza, a Stanford population geneticist, stated that "Cavalli‑Sforza found that the genetic diversity, of populations was better explained by geograph­ic origin than by skin color. His book includes more than 500 maps color‑coded to show areas of ge­netic similarity.He found the biggest genetic differences between African and Australian populations. Yet many Australian aborigines have skin as black as Africans"(Sforza 1995). This article was published on March 12, 1995 in the Sunday Gazette.
Who's website is

2) Article written by Margery Post Abbot "Who's DNA Is It Anyway" states that: "The more we know about human genetics, the clearer it becomes that our notions of race are not a valid biological classification for humans. Genes may give us a particular skin color, but genetically, dark-skinned Australian Aborigines are not closely related to Africans"(Abbot 20). This article was found in

3)In a London News Article "We've all got roots in Africa (if you go back 60,000 years)" states that:
"However, Cambridge University scientists were able to demonstrate that Australia's settlers share common ancestors with the rest of the world by testing DNA samples more extensively than had been possible before. Dr Peter Forster, who led the research, said: "For the first time, this evidence gives us a genetic link showing that the Australian Aboriginal and New Guinean populations are descended directly from the same specific group of people who emerged from the African migration.The scientists reported their findings in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. They wrote that Australian and New Guinean populations share characteristics found nowhere else because they evolved with no genetic input from outsiders once they had settled in Australasia"(8/5/2007). This article was found in

But I think all of that is consistent with thesis 2. So what leads you to prefer thesis 1? I don't think this evidence supports that out of the two, so the fact that 2 is the simpler explanation should favor it.

This does help because the darker skinned earlier peoples of Southeast Asia are divided in to Negritos and other Native peoples of that area. At darkest their skins reach brown to dark brown. This is them alone who were the very first people to enter Australia along with lighter skinned Asians. However, I have seen some Australian Aborigines with completely black skin under direct intense sunlight. Which also blacker than the darkest of Africans I have seen even in the Western, Eastern and Subharran part of their continent and I have been comparing skin color between the darkest Africans and the blackest Aborigines for the past 11 years for personal research. Therefore, these Southeast Asians definitely gained skin color when they entered Australia because this continent is much dryer and hotter than Southeast Asia. As a result, the development of some of them with jet black skins makes me finally understand.---

I am born of a Ethiopian mother and a african american father. If you know anything about ethiopians we are considered cushtics as many east africans are then you have the bantu witch are the majority of africa and then there are the northern africans many people say that we (cushtics) are mixed between arab and black but we are not my mother has been mistaken as indian but she is black and I am very much black but to answer the question every person on the planet came from an African man so you could consider aborigens people as balck.

Their skin is now brown to dark brown. Europeans' skin is now much lighter than that, but it doesn't mean they're not descended from darker-skinned people. Why shouldn't the same be true of the peoples of Southeast Asia? Aboriginal Australians aren't descended from the current people of Southeast Asia. They're descended from their ancestors.

Indigenous people in Australia DO use the term 'Black' no matter what their skin colour. Racist government policies of the past had an obsession with categorising people based on the colour of their skin. Policies of child removal (the Stolen Generations) accompanied the assimilation of ‘half-caste’ (mixed race) children with the aim of having them disappear into white society. In other words, the colonisers tried to 'breed out' evidence of Aboriginality. Today, many Aboriginal peoples carry the burden of such policies, when their identity is questioned and interrogated by those who determine Aboriginality based on the colour of skin. It is highly offensive to interrogate ones Aboriginality on the basis of how 'Black' ones skin is. An Aboriginal person can have red hair, freckles, blue eyes and the palest of skin - they are still Aboriginal.

PS. I am from Australia.

Mr Pierce said that as he understood that Indians in Southern India didn't have other charcteristics typical of Africa. I don't think that is entirely accurate. please look up Sathya Sai Baba, he is a South Indian who does not gel his hair. Indians have some common features with Africans, particularly in Southern India. It really depends upon the Indian. Sudanese and Ethiopians have features that are often similar to Southern Indians. An Ethopian friend met my husband once and both kept trying to clarify each other's origins. He felt she must be from India, she felt he must be from Ethopia. My Ethopian friend was regarded as black by Americans. Sudanese can have a very Indian look. While, like all people, there is a broad range of looks that can describe Indian, they generally have very distinct features that Identify them. Some of these features are similar to African and others European. For instance, my husband (a South Indian) has a very long nose but very large nostrils. My husband appears to have straight or slightly wavy hair because, like most South Indians, he combs and gels it. Without the gel it grows up, not down. South Indian hair is usually wavy to curly, occasionally straight or kinky. Our pastor is repeatedly mistaken for African American. One of our friends recently had to have his hair cut twice because the beautician assumed he was "black" (African American) and she cut it afro-style. My children are brown but never mistaken for Indian. They have too many distinctly European features.

to answer the question
- aboriginal australians are NoT black
dey are brown nd dark brown
black is not only the skin colour but the culture the african culture including the african americans black british afro brazilians jamacians ect
blacks are negros (negros= someone of african descent)
africans and people with african blood are black
today africans are black - 40 000 years ago africans were black
today aus aboriginals are "black" - 40 000 years ago they werent black
i live in Aus and see aboriginals some indians islanders (pacific) trying to be black black meaning african american some not being black but brown
some even use the "N" word (which they shouldnt)
in conclusion black means someone of african descent no matter how far back their african descent is from and black meaning black or brown skin

If being black requires having African culture, then very few Americans are black. That position is pretty much a non-starter. Black Americans have pretty much nothing of African culture. There's been some diluted impact from African culture, but that's almost as present in American culture at large at this point.

Now there is a culture that many people call black in the U.S. But that's not the same thing as being racially black, and it's not the same thing most people mean most of the time when calling someone black. I'm pretty sure I made that distinction above pretty clearly.

I think many of the same issues might come up with 'Negro'. Would someone in the 1870s, 1920s, or 1950s have called an aboriginal Australian a Negro? I have no idea. You can't use that as a starting point, since it raises the same questions.

You're final suggestion can't be right. If someone who has African ancestry is black, no matter how far back that ancestry is, then everyone is black according to our current scientific consensus. That's clearly not going to get you results that fit with how the word is used.

I stumbled on this thread and I thought I would add a comment. There has been some misinformation about how the term "black" is used in America, so let me set a couple things straight. Here in the US, the term "black" is generally used for people who have (some) ancestry from the African continent. We can try to be cute and say "all people are African" but that has nothing to do with how the term is used in the States. That is why when filling out census reports or any other form in the US that collects racial information, a couple of the choices are "black, not hispanic" and "black, hispanic." Unfortunately this is an archaic worldview but it is hard to shake these old terms. There is no clear answer as to how the word "black" should be used concerning Indigenous Australians. I don't think we Blacks in the US have a monopoly on the word, but it would create some confusion if an Australian refered to himself or herself as "Black" here in the US because it would imply that they identify as someone with African ancestry. Also, while "African-American" is usually used to refer to someone who is of African origins living in the US, the term "Black" is more generalized and is not specific to people in America. Thus, if you are Canadian, Cuban, British, or Nigerian and are of black African ancestry, you would be considered "Black" by most people in the US.
Oh, I am a Black African-American male from the US, and I studied Latin American History and Pan-Africanism in college.

Tim, I'm not sure where the misinformation you're talking about is, because you never give any quotes of what you're trying to correct. You simply list a bunch of facts. So I'm not sure how to respond to that.

I'm especially unsure why you think anyone has suggested that the term 'black' means anyone at all (i.e. the "cute" view).

I think it's strange to call a worldview archaic for recognizing current racial assignation patterns. What would be archaic would be going back to the pre-modern worldview with no races in the modern sense, as some racial eliminativists want to do. Since there are races, albeit socially-constructed ones, it would be archaic to pretend they're not real just because it's hard to locate them in biology as natural kinds.

Most importantly, the question I'm asking doesn't seem to be affected much by most of what you're saying. I'm wondering whether the word 'black' can refer in the United States to those who ar eoftne called Australian aborigines. It's true that the term 'African-American' is more limited than the term 'black'. That doesn't settle the extent of 'black'. It's also true that African-descended people outside the U.S. are called black in American English. That still doesn't settle whether aboriginal Australians are black in American English. It's also true that it might be misleading in certain contexts to call aboriginal Australians black. However, lots of misleading things are true, and you can easily find statements that are true and misleading in one context but true and not misleading in other contexts. So I'm not sure if any of the things you say really tell us much about the question I'm interested in.

I am of Aboriginal descent, from the Nothwest of Australia;
I have many different mixes such as Malay and all sorts of European mix in me.
I regard myself as an Australian!! I am also proud of all the different nationalities in me.
We have been refered to as being black since the arrival of Europeans and have been classed as this and that in so many nasty and negative use. Nowdays, we call each other black in a positive and proud way that is, we may not be as black as the ace of spades but it is identifying with one another that we do have whatever amount of Aboriginal blood in us.
As I read all your input above, I have to say that while these days many people who acknowledge their Aboriginality no matter what shade their colour of skin is, are are proud of what's in them.

I believe if more and more people were of mixed race they will respect what's in them an be just one human race!!


I have studied the African and so-called white. African with Euro-Asian Y
chromosome, even though you maybe surprised, because they all looked African.
They could be classified as mixed race, but they weren't, because result came out of perception they didn't look any different from other Africans.
With the introduction of Y chromosome into the African population, after many generations, they all would look like Africans which is the dominant. If an African woman with Euro-Asian mtDNA has children with a African man with a Euro-Asian Y chromosome, they are white by classification, but only to someone who thinks halpogroups define race. To some so-called whites they are still African.
To put it another way... The so-called white can deny his or her *African DNA
some 15,000 to 20,000 thousand years ago, even thou it's evident today.
The basic tribal concept, we are all still Africans, weather we are lack of color or have color. We are still hard-wired to tribes and use facial identity to foster that belief. Becoming so-called white has nothing to do with biology, but instead a
political category of people we like and people we dislike for various reasons.
Either a race is to be defined based on genetic information or race is a social construct that doesn't exist. The motivating factor, promoting the idea that race is nothing more than a political classification. The word "Mixed-race" is moot.
It's a word that do not have any real meaning. What do you compare it to.
"White is not a race", and race is not pure...never was and never will be.
The racist puerile are using fuzzy logic trying to put a square peg into a round hole.
The word "Cauc-Asian" is a name of location or a place of origin, not skin color.
The word "Aryan" people of the Indo-Iranian languages (Indo-Euro-Asian).
It was idealized by un-scientic racist beliefs. DNA can prove a different concept,
that we all are the same with small variations. There are people who prefer to be
more of tradition than genetics to be classified as so-called white. Catering to a
desire to be like a tribe or extended family, by using an age old facial and language identification. (also skulls classification).

E1b1a / Loa (Afri-Euro-Asian-Ashkenazi- American)

Muhammad, that's very interesting. You must mean a specific kind of Y chromosome variation, because you couldn't have males of any race without a Y chromosome, and human males have been in Africa much longer than the time you're talking about.

I think you make several assumptions I wouldn't make:

a. Are there people who want to define races merely by haplogroup? I would have thought those who want to define races by genetics would consider that a factor but would want to consider the whole genetic profile if they had such information? That's what my discussion was assuming, actually.

b. I agree with you that racial categories are determined in fact not by biology but by social practices. (I would include politics, which is how you put it, as part of that but not all.) But it doesn't follow that such social constructions don't exist. The fact that the construction occurs means it does exist. Most people wouldn't argue that there's no such thing as a dollar bill just because there's nothing about the nature of the piece of paper that U.S. residents carry around and call a dollar that has any intrinsic properties giving it that exact value. We don't think college students are nonexistent just because it's social practices that generate the social construction of a college student.

You might think races are different because there are false beliefs, even harmful ones, that go into the generation of the social categories of race. But I don't think that makes the categories somehow not real. It just means we ought to seek to change the practices that make the categories what they are, and maybe we can have hope that the categories would be no longer useful and thus eventually no longer existing if no longer practiced. The fact is that racism can't be addressed if you pretend there are no races (and I see you struggling hard to do so by adding "so-called" in front of racial categories, but you yourself have to refer to the groups, which is a lot easier if you just use the names people give the groups).

c. You discuss different social practices involving racial category creation, some of which are so far in the past and out of current practice that they're a historical curiosity, others of which are present and determinative of what groups there are now. The former category includes measuring skulls and tying white people to the caucasus region or a certain language group. The latter includes identifying people by skin color and associating them with their recent ancestry.

I was told that when African people were being shipped to different countries to work as slaves, alot were brought to Australia and most say thats how Aboriginal people formed???

If you mean the European slave trade, then there had to be some serious time travel going on if their actions caused the Aborigines to end up in Australia. Besides, this explanation doesn't fit well with the fact that Aborigines are closer genetically to groups we usually consider to be Asian than they are to Africans.

I want to know if the word 'black' as it is used in the United States (or perhaps Canada, the U.K., or other places) includes aboriginal Australians among the group it refers to.

The nations mentioned above have applied the term "black' inappropriately, much like the use of ketchup. While those not of "hispanic or latin origin or heritage may not be considered by some standards, (I know most black hispanics that reject the term outright) their ancestry is clearly African in origin. And not in the "we all come from Africa" sense.

I've seen some applications where a checkbox for "black, not native to Indigenous Aboriginal Peoples of Australia" So my answer is that those who are of; or identify with Aboriginal origin/ancestry would not be considered black, by American standards at least.

I've seen Indigenous Aboriginals of many shades as you do with blacks. This comes from intermixing with race. I assume the region, culture, and heritage of that individual would play a significant role on shaping their identity, regardless of perception or complexion. As mentioned in previous posts, politics play a heavy role in this process.

As a Black/African American, of Dutch, West Indian, Cherokee, French, Scottish, Irish and whatever else descent, I would say unless the Indigenous Aboriginal peoples bear strong lineage to the Dark Continent, on behalf of America, I boldly

SIDE NOTE: when I look at my reflection I see a "black man" with a milk chocolate complexion, full lips, although my hair is unusually silky and springy. For most of my life I've yet to comprehend why people consistently confuse me for Puerto Rican, Cuban, hailing from France, Morocco, or some far off country in Africa. Perhaps a picture would offer more clarity, but alas, this is merely a side note and I wish to reserve anonymity.

I'm not sure what constitutes an inappropriate use of the term 'black' unless someone is using it differently from how it is usually used and is thus misusing the language. If we're talking about the American use of the term, you can't then say that the American use is inappropriate by its own standards. Surely we shouldn't apply the standards of the use of terms in another language to the American use to show that it's inappropriate.

I use ketchup, and I don't think it's inappropriate. It would be inappropriate for me to use mustard, because it tastes disgusting. But I see nothing wrong with using ketchup. If you mean that it's inappropriate to use the spelling 'ketchup', then I also see no argument for that. The language has changed, and that is now its usual spelling. Does this mean your view on the use of the word 'black' has something to do with some archaic meaning of it that no longer applies? If so, I can't see how that would make the American use inappropriate.

I've seen some applications where a checkbox for "black, not native to Indigenous Aboriginal Peoples of Australia" So my answer is that those who are of; or identify with Aboriginal origin/ancestry would not be considered black, by American standards at least.

I don't see how that follows. I would have thought this to be very good evidence that the person who authored those questions seems to take that one way of being black is by being an indigenous Australian. Otherwise there would be no need to clarify that the application is asking whether the applicant belongs to a more narrow group within those who might be described as black.

As a black man in America the term "black" is only applied to what American classification of what a black person is. The term only applies to black people of African Sub-Saharan ancestry. This means that Cubans, Puerto Ricans, etc, of African Sub-Saharan ancestry are not classified as black. Most of these groups would not consider themselves black as well even though they only differ in country and language. Some embrace it when the conditions are favorable.

I would have thought this to be very good evidence that the person who authored those questions seems to take that one way of being black is by being an indigenous Australian. Otherwise there would be no need to clarify that the application is asking whether the applicant belongs to a more narrow group within those who might be described as black.

Maybe I'm missing the point, I failed to articulate my response, yada yada... By initialing the checkbox you exempt yourself from being classified as "black". All that checkbox does is acknowledge the fact that there is a confusion between the two.

When I say American use of the term "black" is inappropriate, I meant misused. Also like ketchup, which I've witnessed first hand its application to gourmet food. (former Chef)

Here is an example of misusing the term for identifying black people. I've compiled the list using black actors out of convenience, nothing more.

Gina Torres - black actress who's actually Cuban American

Merlin Santana - black actor who's from the Dominican Republic

A list of women referred to as black actresses

Personally, I find the term black inappropriate and a bit confined. Nowadays, Abyssinians are commonly referred to as Ethiopians, a name given by the Greeks. Some will say, I'm Ethiopian out of convenience, but prefer to be called Abyssinian. It's much more complex in the states where most African Americans are unfamiliar with their ancestry, than those who've migrated or whose families have migrated. However, if you're not of Hispanic, or Indigenous Australian origin, you are considered black. Even those who are clearly multiracial conveniently employ the term black. Saves time and air.

I often hear whites refer to blacks of Latina America as not black only when the topic gets political in regards to status, influences, achievements... The only differnce blacks share with most blacks of Latin America is language. Had all our slave ancestors been shipped to America, there would be no distinction.

There's even a checkbox for "white" not of African/Afrikaan origin. Go figure. I hope I've made my point and that it's relevant to the topic.

Over 'n' Out.

Hispanic/Latino is often used in the United States to refer to an ethnic category along a different axis from race. For example, on the census you have the option of selecting a race or races and then can separately indicate that you are Hispanic. You could indicate "black Hispanic" or "white Hispanic" long before it allowed you to choose more than one race in 2000. There's an entire Wikipedia article on this classification in the United States. This includes Cubans and Dominicans. Your own language bears this out when you say, "The only differnce blacks share with most blacks of Latin America is language."

The checkbox, as you describe it, says "black, not native to Indigenous Aboriginal Peoples of Australia". That means the people taking this information wanted a category of black that didn't include the indigenous population of Australia. But the fact that they thought they had to make that qualifier explicit shows that they took some understanding of "black" to include such people.

I'm not sure there's strong evidence that no one uses the term 'black' in a more expansive way that includes aboriginal Australians. Surely some people use it in a more limited sense. There are those who won't even consider Barack Obama black. But that's not evidence that no one uses it more broadly, and those who use it in the more limited way would of course consider the broader use to be inappropriate.

My expectation is that a comprehensive look at how the word 'black' is applied in American racial discourse will bear out the thesis that it's much more complex a linguistic phenomenon. Sometimes people use it to refer to those descended from sub-Saharan Africans. Sometimes it can be used in a more limited or more expansive way. You might disapprove of one of those ways, but if racial terms are changing in significant enough ways such that they come to refer less to groups with common ancestry and more to groups that have similar phenotypic characteristics, then its application to aboriginal Australians becomes less inappropriate as the language changes.

The classification of being black depends on the issuer of the term.

There's more history to that than just linguistic redefinition at this time, though. The claim is that the harm done to blacks should also apply to them, because they were classified with blacks when that harm was done.

There have been court decisions in the United States that have treated non-black minority groups as white when it suited the judges and as black when it suited them. I can't remember the details off-hand, but Mexicans and Asians were both involved in cases like this in the 19th or early 20th century. One of them was declared black in order to prevent them from being treated with white people, and the other was declared white in order to prevent them from benefiting from a law that favored blacks.

Are they black well look at this.

Denis Walker - Black Australian Activist

Nice! That's an interesting piece of evidence. It doesn't quite get to the question I'm interested in, which is whether in American English it's correct to call that segment of the Australian population black. But it does seem as if a relatively neutral commentary in Australia can comfortably call them black meaningfully and without any insult intended.

Try this link somewhat based on your discussion here:,20060,.shtml

DNA shows Aborigines descended from Africans
Posted: Wednesday, May 9, 2007
Source: University of Cambridge
May 7, 2007

New research confirms theory that all modern humans are descended from the same small group of people

Researchers have produced new DNA evidence that almost certainly confirms the theory that all modern humans have a common ancestry.

The genetic survey, produced by a collaborative team led by scholars at Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin Universities, shows that Australia's aboriginal population sprang from the same tiny group of colonists, along with their New Guinean neighbours.

The research confirms the "Out Of Africa" hypothesis that all modern humans stem from a single group of Homo sapiens who emigrated from Africa 2,000 generations ago and spread throughout Eurasia over thousands of years. These settlers replaced other early humans (such as Neanderthals), rather than interbreeding with them.

Academics analysed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome DNA of Aboriginal Australians and Melanesians from New Guinea. This data was compared with the various DNA patterns associated with early humans. The research was an international effort, with researchers from Tartu in Estonia, Oxford, and Stanford in California all contributing key data and expertise.

The results showed that both the Aborigines and Melanesians share the genetic features that have been linked to the exodus of modern humans from Africa 50,000 years ago.

Until now, one of the main reasons for doubting the "Out Of Africa" theory was the existence of inconsistent evidence in Australia. The skeletal and tool remains that have been found there are strikingly different from those elsewhere on the "coastal expressway" – the route through South Asia taken by the early settlers.

Some scholars argue that these discrepancies exist either because the early colonists interbred with the local Homo erectus population, or because there was a subsequent, secondary migration from Africa. Both explanations would undermine the theory of a single, common origin for modern-day humans.

But in the latest research there was no evidence of a genetic inheritance from Homo erectus, indicating that the settlers did not mix and that these people therefore share the same direct ancestry as the other Eurasian peoples.

Geneticist Dr Peter Forster, who led the research, said: "Although it has been speculated that the populations of Australia and New Guinea came from the same ancestors, the fossil record differs so significantly it has been difficult to prove. For the first time, this evidence gives us a genetic link showing that the Australian Aboriginal and New Guinean populations are descended directly from the same specific group of people who emerged from the African migration."

At the time of the migration, 50,000 years ago, Australia and New Guinea were joined by a land bridge and the region was also only separated from the main Eurasian land mass by narrow straits such as Wallace's Line in Indonesia. The land bridge was submerged about 8,000 years ago.

The new study also explains why the fossil and archaeological record in Australia is so different to that found elsewhere even though the genetic record shows no evidence of interbreeding with Homo erectus, and indicates a single Palaeolithic colonisation event.

The DNA patterns of the Australian and Melanesian populations show that the population evolved in relative isolation. The two groups also share certain genetic characteristics that are not found beyond Melanesia. This would suggest that there was very little gene flow into Australia after the original migration.

Dr Toomas Kivisild, from the Cambridge University Department of Biological Anthropology, who co-authored the report, said: "The evidence points to relative isolation after the initial arrival, which would mean any significant developments in skeletal form and tool use were not influenced by outside sources.

"There was probably a minor secondary gene flow into Australia while the land bridge from New Guinea was still open, but once it was submerged the population was apparently isolated for thousands of years. The differences in the archaeological record are probably the result of this, rather than any secondary migration or interbreeding."

The study is reported in the new issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Notes for Editors:

1. Homo sapiens originated in Africa 150,000 years ago and began to migrate 55,000 to 60,000 years ago. It is thought he arrived in Australia around 45,000 years before present (BP). Australia was, at the time, already colonised by homo erectus. The eastern migration route towards Australia is referred to as the "coastal express" route, due to the comparatively rapid progress made by those who used it. This dispersal, from Africa to Australia through Arabia, Asia and the Malay peninsula, could have occurred at a rate of 1km per year.

2. Australia's archaeological record provides several apparent inconsistencies with the "Out Of Africa" theory. In particular, the earliest known Australian skeletons, from Lake Mungo, are relatively slender and gracile in form, whereas younger skeletal finds are much more robust. This robustness, which remains, for example, in the brow ridge structure of modern Aborigines, would suggest either interbreeding between homo sapiens and homo erectus or multiple migrations into Australia, followed by interbreeding. The archaeological data also indicates an intensification of the density and complexity of different stone tools in Australia during the Holocene period (beginning around 10,000 years BP), in particular the emergence of backed-blade stone technology. The first dingos arrived at around the same time, and it is thought both were brought to the continent by new human arrivals – leading to theories of a secondary migration that has resulted in disputes regarding the single point of origin theory.

For more information, contact:

Tom Kirk, Communications Office, University of Cambridge, Tel: 01223 332300, mobile 07917 535815, Email:

Sure, I guess this is relevant. I'm not sure it changes much, though. I'd been assuming all along that everyone is descended from Africans. The question is how recently. Aboriginal ancestors' branching seems to have been pretty far back in the grand scheme of things, such that a purely ancestral arrangement of ethnic groups wouldn't put them in the same racial category as black Africans.

The term oborigines simply means abnormal/original people (aboriginal).
The word was created to downgrade and demean people of dark complexioned skin...In every race on the planet, people with lighter skin feel superior to persons with dark skin...And if you've lived long know this to be true and that the proof is in the pudding.

I disagree on two counts:

1. In ancient Israel, darker skin was seen as more sexually attractive than lighter skin, as evidenced in the Song of Songs. The darker skin in question was tanned skin of a Middle-Eastern woman who was already darker than white people, but it's the same principle as behind why tanned white skin is seen as more attractive today than pale white skin. Also, in Haiti, there's a reverse one-drop rule with lighter-skinned people being treated as inferior. So it's not as simple as lighter skin always being treated as superior. But most of the time that's probably right.

2. The etymology of the word 'aboriginal' is from the Latin "ab origine", which means "from the beginning". No one familiar with Latin would hear the common preposition "ab" as being short for "abnormal". It was used for at least a couple centuries for the earliest inhabitants of the Italian peninsula before later coming to be used for natives of the lands Europeans colonized. I realize that there's a long history of inventing false etymologies of all manner of terms in order to claim that they're racist, but that doesn't make it morally permissible.

Anyone who looks at an Aboriginal and can't see that they are Black People are either Dumb or Blind...To say that Aboriginal People are more genetically closer to asians than africans is a Flatout Stupid Statement given the fact that asians have direct DNA ties to africans...the oldest human remains in Europe date to around 35,000 years ago and the forensics have clearly determined that the earliest Europeans and Americans were Black People...Black people are not only in africa...Black people are native to Asia, Europe, and the Americas as well as Australia...the Negritos of the Phillipines are Black People...all humanity was spawned from Blacks...this whole planet was 100% Black and Blacks inhabited every Continent not just can go to the whitest part of Europe and do a Dna test of those white people and their genes will be directly tied to Africans just like Aboriginals...Asians spawned from Blacks out of the Sudan

While I don't disagree with your conclusion, I don't think your argument is being honest with the facts. Aboriginal people are closer to Asians genetically, and that's not flatout stupid just because Asians have direct DNA ties to Africans. Of course they do. We all do. That doesn't mean aboriginal Australians aren't genetically closer to Asians than Africans. All it means is that there is a connection, through Asians.

If you're looking purely at genetic similarity, aboriginal Australians are closer to Asians than to Africans. If you're looking purely at appearance, they're closer to Africans than to most Asians. Of course there are Asians (mostly off the continent) who look more like aboriginal Australians and black Africans than, say, Chinese people. But that's only a small part of the picture for Asians. Most Asians don't look too much like Africans, and yet they're closer to Africans genetically than they look. But aboriginal Australians share more DNA on average with Asians than they do with Africans, who look more like them.

For all of you reading through and commenting on this blog, what does it really matter that Aborigines share more in common genetically with Asians than with Africans (of which their name is derived from the continent on which they live, nothing more) when Australian Aborigines migrated to Australia from again that geogrphical point called Africa. So what if you yourself want to say or mimic what the experts say, that they share more in common with Asians genetically than with Africans. Australians have lived in relative isolation so it is not saying much of anything to point out a relative genetic similarity between the two. Why would one be interested in pointing this out? It doesn't say much or anything at all other than just to point out diversity. I don't get this backwards thinking. Aboriginal Australians migrated from Africa with little to no outside influence whether you want to pick some slim little difference and run with it or not and study the subject under the scrutiny of a microscope while the lighter members of our race go relatively untouched.

1. Coming to understand the truth about things has value in itself.

2. It also has practical importance, and I can tell you what that is, although I would have thought that it would be clear from what's already been said. A lot of people think race is particularly tied to genetic similarity. This piece of information is evidence against that. It pulls apart genetic similarity and our judgments about what race someone is. That shows that racial classification is less about biology (other than surface-level traits) and more about what social practices lead us to think. That conclusion has tremendous importance, both in our theorizing about what race is and to what extent it is important and in terms of very practical considerations.

3. The lighter members of our race? Do you mean white people? I've spent quite a lot of time thinking about what it means to be white how whiteness relates to other kinds of racial classification. That's just not the subject of this post. If you've spent a lot of time looking around at the various things I've written about race, and you still think I'm ignoring whiteness, then give me some arguments about what aspects I should be taking into account. But if you haven't done that, please refrain from judgments about what I might be ignoring, because such statements come from ignorance themselves if they don't involve careful tabulations on what I've written about.

We know social practices of those from the Middle East differ from let's say someone in Scottland. How much weight does this carry toward making a racial classification? This is important in answering any question you're asking. There is a difference but how much of a part does it play in racial classification. Over the centuries the lighter members of our race have expanded while the classification of the darker race has diminished to a few key physical characteristics. Did you know that in 'SUB-SAHARA' Africa itself, any traits brought into question brings into question racial classification. In parts of New Guinea and Autralia that are untouched by outside influence, some of the Aboriginals have strait or blond hair, again cause for classification. Why does it matter? Just for the sake of interesting? I don't think so. NO. It is interesting in itself but it's racist for most of those concerned. Classification exists for those of us who empirically believe that nothing exists outside of THEMSELVES or who can't explain blond hair in someone dark so we begin our journey into INTERESTING. Why does it matter? Why do we talk so much about it to begin with? Why is it INTERESTING? That's why. The point is that the darker members of our race are more diverse that any other members of our race. Things are complex for this reason.

I have learned so much reading this string, spanning 4 years! When a foreign person, government or entity asks my Nationality, I respond; American of African descent. When someone is inquiring about my cultural background or ethnicity, I respond African American. If someone is asking about my identity, especially as it needs to be distinguishable from others, I respond "black." The answer therefore depends on the question being asked. I don't see how this would be any different for anyone of color from any country. Its almost like giving your address. You may start with the Country, then state, city, etc. before breaking it down to the the street address. Hope I am not being overly simplistic but in the broader sense, and depending on what is being asked, the aboringinal Australians are black. You don't need to know about their biological genes to make this distinction.

Back to the question briefly...

Well Imperialists would have counted us as being 'blacks'. So I would assume it comes down to the individual attitude to make the distinction.

Note that if I meet up with other people of aboriginal descent, most tend to refer to themselves as being 'black' also. Even if they have fair skin, blonde hair and blue eyes etc.

BTW - I have never really heard anyone call people from India 'black'... unless in derogatory tones probably.

Perth, Australia

First, I just want to say that African American and black aren't synonymous--African American describes someone whose ancestors were brought over to the Americas from Africa as slaves, and for me is more of an ethnic group. Blackness is racial--so President Obama, according to my understanding of things, is black but not African American.

As an African American from the United States, I think about blackness a lot. And for me, the term "black" primarily connotes a racial caste and not necessarily a specific geographic origin or genealogy. Being black, in my opinion, is a shared experience of oppression/discrimination because of physical features (generally brown skin and kinky/curly hair) that mark us as inherently inferior, and generally the most inferior. So if Aborigines are marked as the most inferior Others in Australia because of their phenotypes that resemble African ones, then I don't see why they wouldn't be considered black, especially if some self-identify as black. I'm not sure if it would matter how African Americans would consider Aborigines in the United States because we're not the ones with the power to label people, but I'm pretty sure that if the dominant white majority labeled them as black, then they would be black.

I think 'African-American' is used more broadly than just the descendants of slaves. There are those who resist such broader uses, but I think it's a little more vague than you're allowing. On some ways of using the term, President Obama is African-American, as is Colin Powell, who is not descended from slaves in the U.S. but from slaves in the Caribbean (both were born in the U.S.).

I also think you're underestimating the role naming conventions among those who are considered either black or African-American can play in the broader naming conventions of society. I happen to think the continuing effects of the one-drop rule persist more because of mixed-race people like President Obama continuing to label themselves black, at least in certain segments of society. It's his self-identification as black that has gotten everyone calling him black. If he consistently referred to himself as mixed, I'm sure a lot more in the media would be going with that than currently occurs, and that would in turn influence what many people say about him.

Let's talk science/genetics

the original/first/prime "hue" (as in color) mans, are from the continent of africa. Hundreds of thousands, actually some scientist say millions, of years later, Huemans change or differentiate recessively, (genetically that is), to a "less" original type. This happened for various reasons. Climate, environment, genetic drift, etc. All other so called "races", (in reality there are only variations to the original african types), are just a diluted form of the original scientifically. This is just science. this is not racism. Australian aboriginies are the first group of africans to migrate out of the mother continent to australia via the middle east and southeast asia. Racism is a disease. It makes no rational logical sense. Blacks throughout the globe are more original than other types that are less melanated ( less colored pigmentation). This is no cause for fear. It's just god's creation. Everything comes from black, darkness. Darkness is the mother of lightness. In every spiritual text, you learn that god was in the dark, peace, bliss, balance, before light came to be called into existence. God is the great black. All this has been reversed by racist. the whole light spectrum includes all colors which make white light, but the entire electromagnetic spectrum, consists of black light or uv light which contains white light and all colors. Remember this, you can see light in the darkness(make light), but you can't see or create light from darkness. Darkness is first. light has to be created from the darkness. Please understand the nature of god.

Correction to above.

You can see a light in the dark, but yoy can't see dark in light. Darkness is the source of light.

The author of the above writings is Rathael Fambro. You may reach me at

Actually, Genesis says that God made light to illuminate the darkness so that he could separate the two, and the Bible certainly uses darkness as a metaphor for evil. It doesn't do to pretend those metaphors aren't there, just as it doesn't do to pretend that they're indicative of any more than the fact that at night it's hard to see and thus light is a metaphor for illumination. Any sense that it's about skin color, either as a good or bad thing, is just literarily implausible.

I beleive the orginal question was if Aborginal people of Austrilan would be considered Black in the American since or something of that nature. & to be honest it depends really only who their decendts are, and to me that should include the people of Papa New Guinea or neigboring islands they came from. I am a Black American and consider myself to be that other than Africa American, because I do not identifie with the African culture, I would consider a person who has Afican parents but was born in America African American and to elobrate on this I mean people originally from Africa not Europeans born in Africa and aside from us all being desendants from there in the begining. In America I identifie myself as Black because my ancestors were African and I am a decendant of Africa, however I was not raised with their beleifes, I do not identifie with their culture,or practice any of their traditions,my parents, grand parents & great grand parents were born in America and although my skin is a medium brown I have other nationalies in me that may not be apparent to others from looking at me. Also most people I've met from Africa do not consider Blacks in America African, and never consider themselfs Black or Americans. The term African American is more socially accepet by some as "poliet" or potically correct", I perfer Black but not bothered by either term. Black Americans regardless of the darkness in ones skin tone would not asign them as black unless they are of African desendant, I have Arab friends darker than,me and I & other Black people I know do and would call them Arab not Black. Regaurdless of the fact that I have a friend who is from Palinstian & he saids there he is considered black but is the complexion of an Italian , I still tell him he is not Black at least by American standards. If enough was know about where they came from & if they are truley closer in relation to Asians than NO in America they would not be refered as Black just because they have dark skin. However if the word Aboriginal means of original desant or in this case first to inherant the land; than the mix European Aboriginals would not by defition be accounted for in this equation simply becasue they were described as Black by the Settlers upon their first encounter with these people and expressed in detail by many of the explorers Cook being one of them. This could possibly rule out a notion mentioned earlier that they were lighter ad Asians when they first arrived in Australia and than became darker because of the climant and to adapt,for their orginal descriptions from the first explores were that they were dark and at this time they had not mixed with other nationalities yet to produced the vast array of complexions we see as Aboriginal today. If they came to Papa New Guinea and people from Papa New Guiean come from Africa than Yeah they would be considered Black by me and other Black Americans and people from Papua New Guinea would also be called Black as well. The truth is to many of us who consider ourself Black like many others Races know very little of these people orgins and they are as much a mystery to us as the many theories I've read about them are can be conclued by some of the comments posted on here. However adpative they may have become to.their enviroment though I have never seen any culture closer to an African in color than them even in the hottiest of countries rather their skin is more black than an African or not I think the relation is closer than tone being adpative to their enviroment though. These are just my opinions though many or the expressed views of most of my Black friends and the majority just wouldn't care,but the observatation of the first explores who encountered them is a fact and the defition of Aborginal is simple. Sorry for all the spelling errors its diffcult to type so much on a touch screen phone with a small keypad.

From a purely African perspective, they are not black, they are Asian descent, it should be obvious looking at their features, I think only an African can know this since everyone else says 'we look alike' which is ridiculous. I can tell a Somali from an Ethopian, I can tell a Kenyan from a Nigerian...and I can therefore tell an Aborigine from an African. We should probably leave the black Americans out of this because besides majority having a darker skin hue, they cannot in all honesty be considered Africans, alot of mixing has taken place over the years.

Wamzzy since most black Americans as you would call us have over 70% african blood we can most definitely be called black. But to answer this foolish question based on origin, we are all BLACK, we all originated from africa, the sub subharan region.

Directed toward "Ellen" for clarification:

So a black person who emigrated to the U.S. after the civil rights struggles of the 1960s cannot have undergone the "black experience"??

I know this may digress, but I find it very fundamental to the topic...

Directed to "Ellen" again:

More specifically, what constitutes the "black experience"?

I think the most proper question to ask should have been:- Do Australian Aborigines have a recent African ancestry/Heritage (40,000 yrs), are they genetically(DNA) related to Africans, and how far back can one trace this lineage: or, are they an independent Human Phenotype that evolved in isolation after migrating out of Africa in one of it's migrations 60,000 - 70,000 yrs ago. or a Phenotype that developed out of a later (two step migration) from Indonesia/Melanesia. etc. etc. .. . .

Those questions are only the most obvious ones to ask if those questions get at the heart of which characteristics are used in the U.S. for determining racial assignment. I'm not sure they're very central. Skin color is much more central, from what I've been able to tell (and careful sociological surveys seem to bear that out).

I would say yes, Australians along with Papua New Guineans, and most of the other melanasians, micronesians, etc are black because they look black and consider themselves black from what I have read. If one of them were to walk down the streets of New York, I think they would be stopped and frisked like every other black new yorker. Guys like the Rock or Troy Polamalu are more or less viewed as black despite being Samoan and being nowhere near as dark as Aussies.

As for them being closer to Asians, in some ways this is true they do live closer to asia and some like in indonesia, samoa, china and philippines have mixed with asian. But for the most part they are black, there is no invisible rule book that says once people leave Africa they cannot be black anymore.

To Americans black means anyone who self idenitifies as black, with dark skin, "looks black" or one drop of black blood (Called the one-drop rule). This is why Obama despite having a multiracial mother and black father is called black. By look black they mean look African American, and this of course can be confusing to an outsider because it includes everyone from Michael Jackson to Rashida Jones to Shaquelle O'neal and vin diesel.

I see no compelling argument for why they are not black, their ancestors come from africa, they think they are black, they look black, their traditions and ritual and culture is very close to black africans with all the dancing and the jumping and skin painting. Some might be mixed but so are most black latinos, black americans and black carribeans and black europeans.

You point how they are closer to Asians. This to be expected since they live near asians. But black Americans are closer to northern europeans than africans and white northern european descendant americans are closer to black americans genetically than northern europeans because of all the racial mixing that went on. About 1/3rd of white americans have a recent (as in last few hundred years) black ancestor and vice versa for blacks.

As far as Indians, I get your point Jeremy but I'd think of them as black too but for 1 reason. They do not call themselves black. But other than that they are black. They come from Africa, look black, have dark skin etc. As for the hair and facial feature argument. Well not all blacks have curly hair and the same facial features. Fula are Nigerians and have hook nose, you find hook nose and striaght nose blacks all over Africa. Malians and Burkina Fasoians and Nigeriens have often bone straight hair. And they are not mixed, often they are among the blackest of black Africans you could find with bone straight hair like a native indian. The whole hair thing has to do with climate anyways. Humid hair people from Jungles or coastal regions will have curly hair, dry climate people will have straighter hair, which is why you find straight hair blacks all over the sahara.

Surre Aborigines have a unique look, but so do khoisan and so do bushmen and so do all africans. A Somalian looks different than Nigerian and a Nigerian looks different than a Nigerien and both look different than a Senegalese, heck not even all Senegaless look alike. I think most black Americans would accept Aboringes as being black because there is no reason not to.
-Australians aren't straight from Africa... but neither are Americans.
- But Australians been out of Africa long... but so have americans
-But I mean that Americans have only been out of Africa for a few hundred years not 40,000... prove to me that the tribe of Africans your ancestors came from in Africa never left Africa in the last 40,000 years. There is a good deal of evidence and research and books written showing black africans arrived in much of present day Latin America thousands of years before colombus, there is a book written on it called before colombus and it shows the black african skeletons and giant african heads and african pyramid building in mesoamerica and the olmec culture. Prove to me your african american ancestors were even from Africa and not from New Guinea or Australia or the filipines where they called the indigenous blacks negritos, or little black people... what's that, you cannot, thought so.
-Australians look different... so do Americans and all blacks
-but they have different hair... so do khoisan, saharans, somalis, congolese, rwandans, sahelians, nubians and southern egyptians and basically all Africans, different africans have different hair.

Why must someone have a specific hair type to be black that most blacks don't have? Must all whites have blonde stringy hair, or all Asian black straight hair? Look at the variety of hair and skin in native americans, why is the black race being limited by non-blacks as to how they "shoud look". I have yet to here a black person tell a white how they "should look", or that you are not a real white because you come from Russia or Finland or Hungary or Bulgaria and those countries are genetically closer to Asians than Europeans and Russia is not in Europe for the most part.
-but Australians are not from sub-saharan africa... really, prove to me that the black tribe your ancesors came from never left sub-saharan africa, never ventured into the sahara, were not part of the moorish or carthigian, or punes, numidians, celts, etruscans, pelasgians, kushites, etc tribes who conquered Europe and the middle east and asia giving all europeans 1-6% sub-saharan african dna even in scandinavia. And who came up with this sub-saharan non-sense anyway, probably some non-black euroclown who didn't ever read a history book and didn't realize all of the world was conquered and founded by black people not just sub-saharan Africa. If not for Muhammad and the ottoman, roman, melmuks, persian,mongols and qin, indo europeans etc invasions the middle east, india and, China and basically the entire planet except the Asian Steppes (Kazakhstan and Mongolia) and Siberia would be black.

It wasn't even until 700 AD did arabs arrive in North Africa this sub-saharan africa stuff is just junk science. What about sub-danubic europe. All countries south of the danube are now arbitraily non-white. For the same reason why all countries north of the sahara a desert that hardly existed in 10,000 bc are somehow non black despite the blackest skinned Africans all coming from the Sahara like the Nubians, southern egyptians, sudanese, nigeriens,malians chadian etc.

Location Canada

yes absolutely! its sad that people always seem to down play or cover up the solid facts that Africans/blacks play in extended cultures or race of people and period point blank get over it accept it if they migrated out of Africa going through asia or or Europe it still stands that they are a people who descended from Africa so yes they are considered BLACK OR AFRICAN or which ever terminology one is comfortable with ok yes over the years they have mixed in but that's not the main focus here the main focus is are they African/black yes they are which is fine which is ok its nothing wrong with that I don't understand why some group of people or persons have a issue when it comes to acknowledging any thing or any one or race or creed that has originally stemmed from Africans/black people its a if the solid facts and studies are being ignored if that was the case what about modern day black people/AFRICAN americans? since the time of slavery black people have been drastically mixed in with other races cultures et etc and are still considered AFRICAN americans/black people so why is it that when it comes to the ABORIGINALS why is it such an problematic argument? thinking like this is the reason why the world is the why it is and why it will always be

why is it that people of other races or cultures always seem to down play the truth when it has anything to do with African Americans or blacks if they have migrated out of Africa and it doesn't matter which route they took whether it was Europe or asia it still stands that they are African/black if that wasn't the case what about modern day African americans/blacks who migrated here(by force of course which is still migration)and was drastically mixed in with numerous European races and others BUT however are still considered and looked at as being AFRICAN American/BLACK so why is it such an issue when it comes to aboriginals QRIGINAL IDENTITY and who they are well sorry people open up your mind and have an accepting heart even with solid facts people still tend to ignore the reality of the argument

They're not like descendants of Africans in the U.S., though, because (1) that's much more recent and (2) other Pacific island peoples are closer to aboriginal Australians than either is to Africans genetically and ancestrally. So it's simply nonsense to treat them as if they are scientifically the same people. But of course I wasn't acting a scientific question. I was asking a question about whether people do in fact refer to them as black and whether it would be linguistically accurate to do so (because what determines who gets classified in which categories won't always line up with genetic similarity or recent ancestry).

I'm an Aboriginal person - that is i am of Aboriginal descent.I have French,Syrian and Irish blood also.

I am what's considered a 'black' person although im not very dark skinned and i dont deny my other heritages.
I was adopted at birth in 1976 and have documents stating both the 'Aboriginal Features' of my mother and i - the documents also talk about my 'darkish' skin etc.

Our Ancestry matters because it gives us a sense of place -(if i had German blood-i'm sure i would feel connected to Germany if i went there-whether that connection was welcomed or not)

Can i ask why this question of Aboriginal Identity matters to you?

I receive NO monetry benefits at all and dont get free housing.
I run my own business asnd i have a weekend job at an Aboriginal Hostel cooking for students ever weekend.

Some of us ARE self determined & successful you know :-)

even in the face of a government that suspended the 'Racial Discrimination Act' last year.

Google my name -'Dub Leffler' to find out more of what i do.
I'm a children's Author and Illustrator,Musician,Chef and Father.

I'm from the Bigambul people and my totem is the Black Kangaroo.

But in the end it doenst matter who we are- its the deeds we do.
Dub Leffler

I'm interested because I study race, and one question I'm looking at is how race-terms in the U.S. function. Do they function in such a way as to include groups outside the U.S. purely because of skin color, or do they take enough other factors into account to prevent that? Ultimately, I want to know if racial categories are more fundamentally about appearance and less about ancestry or if ancestry is more decisive.

Facinating thread! Whether aboriginal australians are considered black in the U.S. would depend on multiple factors and I think the question is a bit too broad in scope. Although most Americans (all races) would consider the average aboriginal to be black as a GENERAL description, identification as black in the U.S. would depend on (but not be limited to);

Whether you are describing with whom they share the closest physical traits.
Yes, they would be considered black.
Black meaning (Bantu or group with similier traits ie. darker skin, kinky hair, broad nose, etc.

Whether you are asking if they fit within a "black american cultural identity".

As was pointed out in other posts, although "INTERESTING",Divide and conquer is very much alive in the classifying of related group of african descent, where as the definition of "white" is gobbling up peoples as we speak!

Also the point made above about the basic human tendancy to recognize facial and physical similarities is a huge basis for group identity.

So as a person of african descent in america...YES THEYRE BLACK!..AND WE DO IDENTIFY WITH THEM!

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