It depends. "Black" refers to dark-skinned people of African descent, no matter their nationality. "African American" refers to people who were born in the United States and have African ancestry. Many people use the terms interchangeably.

Young Black activists in the United States started using "Black" in the 1960s when referring to descendants of slaves as a way to leave the term "Negro" and the Jim Crow era behind, says Keith Mayes, associate professor of African American and African Studies at the University of Minnesota. "African American" caught on in the US in the 1980s as a more "particular and historical" term than the generic "Black," Mayes says. "People of color" was originally meant to be a synonym of "Black," but its meaning has expanded to accommodate Latinos, Asians, Native Americans and other non-white groups, says Efren Perez, a professor of political science and psychology at the University of California Los Angeles. To say you are a person of color is more celebratory and positive than to say you are part of a "minority," he says. All three terms are acceptable. Which you prefer comes down to personal choice, the situation you're in and how invested you are in your racial identity, Perez says.

The meanings of words and phrases can change over time. For example, the words "colored" and "Negro" are now considered dated and offensive - but they weren't when the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the United Negro College Fund were created in the early 20th century. Those organizations haven't changed their names, but "by no means they are trying to perpetuate a name that is offensive to Black people," Mayes says. "Their very history, it's about advancing the Black cause."

-Nicole Chavez, CNN