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The Black Diaspora

The African diaspora is the diaspora created by the movements and cultures of Africans and their descendants throughout the world, to places such as the Americas, (including the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America) Europe and Asia. Much of the African diaspora is descended from people sold into slavery during the Trans Atlantic slave trade, with the largest population living in Brazil.

More broadly, the African diaspora comprises the indigenous peoples of Africa and their descendants, wherever they are in the world. Pan-Africanists often also consider other Africoid peoples as diasporic African peoples. These groups include, among others, the Malay Peninsula (Orang Asli), New Guinea, certain peoples of the Indian subcontinent, and the aboriginal peoples of Melanesia and Micronesia.

The African Union has defined the African diaspora as: people of African origin living outside the continent, irrespective of their citizenship and nationality and who are willing to contribute to the development of the continent and the building of the African Union. Its constitutive act declares that it shall: invite and encourage the full participation of the African Diaspora as an important part of our Continent, in the building of the African Union. Most societies that apply the black label on the basis of a person's ancestry justify it as applying to members of the African diaspora. Between 1500 and 1900, approximately four million African slaves were transported to island plantations in the Indian Ocean, about eight million were shipped to Mediterranean-area countries, and about eleven million were taken to the New World. Their descendants are now found around the globe. Due to intermarriage and genetic assimilation, just who is a descendant of the African diaspora is not entirely self-evident.

British North America imported only about 500,000 Africans out of the 11 million shipped across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, the United States has preserved two suprisingly distinct genetic populations: one of mostly African ancestry, the other overwhelmingly European. All other New World states (except Canada) that imported African slaves have unimodal Afro-European genetic admixture scatter diagrams. Indeed, two thirds of white Americans have no detectable African ancestry at all, other than the ancient African ancestry shared by all humans. Only one-third of white Americans have detectable African DNA (averaging 2.3 percent) from ancestors who passed through the endogamous color line from black to white. Furthermore, USA government surveys continue to categorize on a strict color-line. The federal census has no provision for a multiracial or biracial self-identity and, until 2000, forbade checking off more than one box. The EEOC has strict regulations defining who is black or white and implicitly denies the existence of mixed people.

At an intermediate level, in Latin America and in the former plantations in and around the Indian Ocean, descendants of slaves are a bit harder to define because virtually everyone is mixed in demographic proportion to the original slave population. In places that imported relatively few slaves (like Argentina), few if any are considered Black today. In places that imported many slaves (like Arabia and Puerto Rico), the number is larger, but all are still of mixed ancestry.

At the other extreme, the African slaves shipped across the Mediterranean to Europe promptly assimilated. Sub-Saharan DNA is scattered throughout the European population. Not every nation has been studied yet, but enough studies have been done that a picture is starting to emerge. The percentage of sub-Saharan DNA in Europe today ranges from a few percent (in southern Portugal) to nil (in Scandinavia). It decreases as you go northwards from the Mediterranean. It apparently decreases as you go eastwards from the Atlantic.

Although African DNA is present everywhere in Europe, it is too thinly scattered, even along the Mediterranean coast, to affect physical features. Hence, despite this easily detected but diluted African ancestry, virtually no one considers today's Europeans to be descendants of the African slave Diaspora.

A few examples of populations who are seen as Black or who see themselves as Black because they descend from native Africans are: African Americans, some Latin Americans, and most residents of the Republic of South Africa.

Afro-Latin Americans - Among the Afro-Latin American populations in South and Central America there are populations that identify as negros. Some with high levels of admixture as well. The difference is that, contrary to the USA, membership in the Black ethnicity is usually by upbringing and not by an imposed concept of one-droppism.

Afro-Arabs - Various people of the Middle East whose ancestors were also brought during the colonial slave trade period (1500-1850) established communities in Yemen, Pakistan, and India. Many share the similar name Saeed (Sheedis, Shudra, and Siddi).

Sub-Saharan African population

According to the UN the population of Sub-Saharan Africa in 2004 was 715 million.

The population reference bureau has 767 million in 2006.

The Americas

African Americans - There are an estimated 40 million people of African descent in the USA and Canada.

Afro-Latin American - There are an estimated 100 million people of African descent living in Latin America. The bulk of whom are 80 million Afro-Brazilians who make up 45% of Brazil's population. There are also sizeable African populations in Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

The population in the Caribbean is approximately 15 million. This excludes Dominican Republic, Cuba and Puerto Rico which are included in the Latin American category. Significant numbers include Haiti - 8 million, and Jamaica - 2.5 million.

England - 1.6 million split evenly between Afro-Caribbeans and Africans.

France - 2 million of Sub-Saharan African descent.

Netherlands - 300,000 of Surinamese descent.

India and Pakistan

Siddis - The Siddis (also called Habshi) are a black African people in India. While many Indians also have similarly dark skin, it is the Siddis who possess large amounts of sub-Saharan African DNA. They mostly came from eastern Africa and some were sold as slaves in the Indian subcontinent by Arab merchants in medieval times. Others also came of their own volition as soldiers or mercenaries, sailors and merchants. Rough estimates put the current Siddi population at 20 to 30 thousand, mostly living in the state of Gujarat.

Makranis - In Pakistan, which also has a small Indo-African population, Indo-Africans are substantially more visible as performers and athletes. The community, known as Makranis, is almost completely centred in the coastal city of Karachi and has achieved national status as athletes, especially as boxers, a field in which Indo-Africans have represented Pakistan in international competition.

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