This paper examines the role of American safaris in shaping European and broader Western conceptualizations of race as a scientific category. Of particular focus are expeditions sponsored by American museums during the late 19th and early 20th centuries in colonial Africa. The paper investigates safaris undertaken by the American Museum of Natural History (New York) and the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) in British East Africa, British Somaliland, the Belgian Congo, and Tanganyika Territory (formerly German East Africa). The paper argues that the travel narratives of American hunters and scientists/naturalists who visited colonial Africa offer a distinct prism through which we can view the centrality of “blackness” to the construction of race in the West. Armed with their own preconceptions of black male and female behavior informed by America’s slavery past and articulated as part of the United States’ “Negro Problem” in the early 20th century, American hunters in Africa propagated paternalist and scientific ideologies that imagined Africans as childlike, brutish, untrustworthy, and in need of guidance from white men (and women). Additionally, in their imagining of Africa as a “vanishing wilderness,” American naturalists drew on their own nostalgia surrounding the American West. Often making explicit analogies between the American West and particularly East Africa, they prophesied the disappearance of entire “tribes” either by famine or the results of war with “the white man.” Accordingly, these men and women contributed to the European imperial science of race that assumed white supremacy and the triumph of Western “civilization.