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Black Americans are those persons in the United States who trace their ancestry to members of the Negroid race in Africa They have at various times in United States history been referred to as African coloured Negro Afro-American and African-American as well as black The black population of the United States has grown from three-quarters of a million in 1790 to nearly 30 million in 1990 As a percentage of the total population blacks declined from 193 in 1790 to 97 in 1930 A modest percentage increase has occurred since that timeOver the past 300 and more years in the United States considerable racial mixture has taken place between persons of African descent and those with other racial backgrounds mainly of white European or American Indian ancestryShades of skin colour range from dark brown to ivory In body type black Americans range from short and stocky to tall and lean Nose shapes vary from aquiline to extremely broad and flat hair colour from medium brown to brown black and hair texture from tightly curled to limp and straightHistorically the predominant attitude toward racial group membership in the United States has been that persons having any black African ancestry are considered to be black In some parts of the United States especially in the antebellum South laws were written to define racial group membership in this way generally to the detriment of those who were not Caucasian It is important to note however that ancestry and physical characteristics are only part of what has set black Americans apart as a distinct group The concept of race as it applies to the black minority in the United States is as much a social and political concept as a biological oneThe first Africans in the New World arrived with Spanish and Portuguese explorers and settlers By 1600 an estimated 275000 Africans both free and slave were in Central and South America and the Caribbean area Africans first arrived
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