Reading some of this I thought I should add that not all blacks born in the United States are African-American. I know many black people who have parents who were both born in Trinidad, or Gayana, while they were born here in the U.S. By saying that only African-Americans should be able to check the box, that closes the door for a lot of other American blacks. Personally I've never noticed the box with the option of only African-American, for me it's always said Black/African American which brought up my question in the first place.
It's difficult to really get on anyone's case about being foreign born and raised, then checking the African-American box when, as shown in the confusion displayed in this topic, there is such a lack-of-clarification, ignorance, and indifference surrounding the requirements for any given box.
That being said, I find it interesting that some surveys go the extra step and tell you if you aren't sure, or are of mixed heritage, to check the box of whichever option you appear closest too.
Interesting discussion. I believe the statistics included all ethnic African descendants, for lack of better words. There are boxes that only say African-American which for me is problematic. Neither do I care for the black/african-american box as to me it is equating the two as one in the same. I am American of Caribbean descent and also of mixed heritage. I will generally mark "other" and specify, mark or "black" if listed without African-American. Nothing else. That is what I did for law school and am in at my school of choice.
Hispanic and even some Asian options are listed out by ethnicity. The same is not done for non-Hispanic people of African descent.
But this is the United States and this country is not necessarily known for ethnic consciousness...