What's in a name? African American Ethnic Identity Terms and Self-Determination

Linda Larkey, Michael L. Hecht, Judith Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


African Americans have experienced several shifts in the predominant terms used to describe their ethnic identity in the past several decades. A current taxonomy of African American labels and associated meanings for those labels was developed as a result of this study. The dominant terms, Black and African American, expressed different views of ethnic identity, with Black generally providing a sense of unity and acceptability and African American expressing the experience of a blended heritage. A trend was detected in the transition from the usage of the term Black toward the term African American, which indicates a positive move toward self-determination and progress in meeting the challenge of communicating within two cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)302-317
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language


Dive into the research topics of 'What's in a name? African American Ethnic Identity Terms and Self-Determination'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this