How do you call an exceptionally black Afrian-American as opposed to those with lighter skin? Is there such a word in American English or slang?

  • Of course there is.
    – M.A.R.
    Jul 20, 2015 at 19:53
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ I am sorry but I was unsuccessful in finding the relevant word following the link.
    – Anixx
    Jul 20, 2015 at 20:02
  • 1
    I stand corrected; I wasn't attentive to as opposed to those with lighter skin. /me runs away in shame; so sorry.
    – M.A.R.
    Jul 20, 2015 at 20:03
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    Mostly you don't,. Questions of blackness can very easily become nasty very quickly. Except in the case of identification, there is little reason (in most of non-black American society), to bring up the subject. And many will take offense. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but much about race relations in America these days doesn't. Jul 20, 2015 at 23:04

3 Answers 3


As has basically been said dark vs. fair would do:

Dark (2.1)

(Of someone’s skin, hair, or eyes) brown or black in colour.


Fair (2.1)

(Of a person) having a light complexion or hair.


These terms have comparative (darker, fairer) and superlative (darkest, fairest) forms and can be used of people of any complexion. So you could describe a white person with brown hair as being darker than a redhead.

So you could, if you had reason to, describe someone as simply a very dark African-American (though "African-American" is really not very common outside of America). Although it is worth noting that there be dragons. However, it is not necessarily politically incorrect or offensive at all and such terms can obviously be very useful if discussing racial politics or prejudice or whatever.

As a point of interest.

I grew up in London, England and I spent a lot of time in my teens (about five years ago now) with members of a community in which fairness is still often considered desirable and attractive. The slang term they used to use for dark people was "blick" - which has an urban dictionary entry, but is not very common, it seems. I do not recommend using this word unless you know what you're doing. But, as a matter of linguistic interest, I thought it worth mentioning.

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    I'd add that "blick", as far as I know, has not made it to the US, and the OP specifically asks about American terminology.
    – Catija
    Jul 21, 2015 at 3:11
  • I suspected that, which is why I added the line and the signposts, but it's useful to have it confirmed in the comments. I still think it's worth mentioning as a point of interest and because another user or reader from another part of the world with a similar query may find this question (or perhaps their own new question will be marked as duplicate) and may benefit from the information. But, sorry, I'm not entirely sure how your comment was meant, but I certainly don't intend to come across as overly-defensive. You're quite right and I'm sure the OP will benefit from the confirmation :)
    – Au101
    Jul 21, 2015 at 3:20
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    Don't worry about it. My comment is simply informational. I'm not recommending you change anything. You are completely correct that you do say it is used in England.
    – Catija
    Jul 21, 2015 at 3:27
  • Ta :) No complaints from me
    – Au101
    Jul 21, 2015 at 3:33
  • Does blick refer to any black person or only those with darker skin?
    – Anixx
    Jul 21, 2015 at 8:04

We generally just use the terms:

"Dark-skinned black person/African American"
"Light[er]-skinned black person/African American"

Here are some examples in articles:

Colourism: Why even black people have a problem with dark skin

My mother, the first woman I ever knew, loved and admired, was a dark-skinned black woman and, to me, the epitome of beauty and glamour.

Type dark skin or light skin into Twitter and you will see colourism in action. One tweet: "Party on Friday. White Girls free. Light skin girls 5dollars. 50 dollars for dark skin girls".

Rachel Dolezal Is Ruining My Light-Skinned Black Life

I've always wondered why I wasn't born with the dark skin I thought I deserved to have. My mother is a beautiful shade of brown. My father, who passed away when I was a young girl, was a dark shade of chocolate. [...]
It hasn't been easy for me as a light-skinned African-American woman, and this wannabe black woman Rachel Dolezal is making it that much harder for me to live my best light-skinned black woman life.


There is not really any term that I know of that would be polite to use to someone's face, or in casual reference. In a literary context, you might refer to someone as having dark ebony, obsidian, or pitch-black skin, though in terms of actual color the last two terms are misnomers.

  • AFAIK ebony means any black person.
    – Anixx
    Jul 21, 2015 at 8:06
  • True. Maybe gabon ebony?
    – Obie 2.0
    Jul 21, 2015 at 15:29

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