One of the more amusing paeans to political correctness has to be the "Black \ African-American" juggling act that the mass media, and those whose livelihoods are directly attributable to the mass media (politicians) are forcing themselves to perform in order to prove their devotion to the Church (CPC).
I have been studying this performance in oratory and in print for some time. What I have yet to find in either medium is a rule. That is, the terms African-American and Black seem to be interchangeable and randomly so. In oratory, the speakers usually prefer the more PC term over the previously accepted term. Black, it seems, has somehow become taboo, or at least passe. Only the unsophisticated would refer to a person's race as "black." At the same time, however, "white" is still good enough for those non-blacks.
In the print media, however, one would expect a more consistent usage. Newspapers enforce a strict "style" on their content, primarily to set a standard that writers and editors can apply without being accused of being arbitrary in their work. A style also sets the newspaper apart from their competitors and their content, removed from the rest of the paper can still be identified by the style.
But when it comes to using the hyphenated geographical reference versus the color, I have yet to detect the style. The determining factor seems to be space. If space is tight, you are black. Otherwise you are African-American.
ASGT’s In The Heights set to open on August 3rd
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