I recently posted this question on black travelers and China (it was my first on Travel.SE). Relatively early into the question, someone changed the title from reading "black travellers" to "dark-skinned travellers", with their explanation being that this made the question more "politically correct". (The body of the question still refers to black travellers)

As a new member of the community, who had less rep than the person making the edit, I am reluctant to unilaterally change this edit. However, I am uncomfortable with the edit for several reasons. For a start, as far as I am aware, "black" is not politically incorrect, and indeed, I think referring to black people as dark skinned can be potentially offensive (since it reduces black identity to just skin color). Furthermore, my question referred to naturally curly hair, which is something that specifically black (rather than just dark-skinned) travellers have to deal with. I asked my travelling companions, whose experience prompted me to ask this question, and they all said that they thought "black travellers" was more appropriate.

However, as I said, I am new to this community, and as Travel.SE is a global site, I am sure that there are global issues with the word "black" that I"m unfamiliar with as an American. Therefore, I wanted to ask the community: Should I let this edit stand? Or ought I to change it back to the original phrasing?

  • 8
    "Persons of African descent"? I do agree that changing "black" to "dark skinned" broadens the question and makes parts of it more ambiguous. Also coming from the US, I read "black" => "African descent"; while "dark skinned" is more ambiguous (what is 'dark'? does it include pacific islanders who have straight hair? etc.) Will a traveller of African descent have the same problems as a dark-skinned traveller from, say, India? Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 18:14
  • There are plenty of people with naturally (and artificially) curled hair of all nationalities. I would leave it as "dark skinned".
    – JonathanReez Mod
    Commented Aug 7, 2017 at 20:38
  • 2
    As you say there are differences between countries. In the UK forms usually ask you to choose between Black British, Black African, Black Caribbean, Black Other and so on. So black is the usual term. Dark skinned sounds quite wrong to me.
    – mdewey
    Commented Aug 9, 2017 at 15:30
  • What is the right word to refer to a black person, when you don't know their name? ell.stackexchange.com/q/32976/9683
    – Ulkoma
    Commented Aug 11, 2017 at 10:00

1 Answer 1


Roll it back. Per Meta.SE, editing is justified "to make things better, clearer, more effective -- never to change meaning". As you state, "dark skinned" is not the same as "black", and "black" is generally not considered offensive in the first place.

  • Agreed. "Dark-skinned" greatly broadens the question from specifically applying to people of African descent to also applying to people of Indian, South Asian, Middle-Eastern, South American, Central American, native American, etc. descents.
    – reirab
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 5:25
  • 3
    Given the +6/-0 score of this answer and the lack of other answers, I reverted the title.
    – reirab
    Commented Aug 13, 2017 at 5:31

You must log in to answer this question.