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Image by Alona Miller, Visual Managing Editor at The Shakerite

During my first year at Boston University, I completed an introductory writing research course titled, “African American Voices,” and learned a distinction that edified my racial identity and affirmed a sentiment on which I’ve been ruminating since childhood: There is a distinct application between using the terms, “African American” and “Black American.” The term, African American, describes an ethnic group of peoples that share a common ancestry, distinguished by the forced uprooting of native Africans to American soil via the Atlantic Slave Trade from the 16th to 19th centuries. This label also describes a culture, created by said peoples, that has evolved and transcended itself over time and is now the bedrock of mainstream American culture today — music (blues, jazz, country, rock, hip hop), dance, food, politics, literature, film/television, fashion etc. …


Paul Renolis

San Francisco-based queer performing artist, creative, and writer that explores black joy.

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