Are names of groups like African American and Native American ever hyphened in MLA style?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
In MLA style, if each part of the name of an ethnic or national group is an independent term, no hyphen is used, regardless of whether the name appears as a noun or an adjective:
Many Native Americans live in California.
I am studying African American literature.
If the name includes a combining form, however, a hyphen is needed:
The book traces the history of Anglo-Americans in the United States.