Why I refuse to use the term “African-American”

The English language fluctuates. A lot. No news there.

I’m a curmudgeon. I’ll change, but only after I’ve seen the wisdom of the change; I’ll choose the action, or verbiage, that makes sense to me. I use “retarded” not to degrade an individual, but to make dispassionate observation that his/her development is slower than the norm. I’ll use “album” for music, even though most “albums” are now on CD.

“African-American” is a term I cannot ever see using.

I live in the Metro DC area. In the first apartment building I lived in when I moved here, there were individuals from at least five different continents, either at birth or one generation removed. About half were US citizens; some were not *yet* citizens, and some were simply here working legally.

This is a very, very diverse area. I love that about it. But there is NO way to know if the individual next to me is American or not. S/he may be of African descent, but until I learn something about that person as an individual, I cannot tell if s/he’s “of African descent” or African or American or hoping-to-be-an-American, or what.

Not only that, but two in my circle are Americans of African descent, but are white. One was born in Africa to Africans, another was born in America to Africans legally present in the US. They are truly African-American, but each has been chastised for referring to himself as such. Some in similar circumstances (and I forget the specifics of the cases) have been denied scholarships or programs designed for African-Americans — because their skin is not black.

So, if I must refer to one’s race, I’ll use “black”.

In fact, I spoke a couple of years ago to an older black man who also uses that term. He told me his rationale — “they keep changing my group. First it was Negro, then black, then African-American, and ‘person of color'”. I’m tired of living by others’ labels. I stopped at “black”.

Very wise, my friend.

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Invest In Me (#investinme) – A reply to Virginia21

Today Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell tweeted “Students w/ @Virginia21 brought 10K signatures to GA with message for higher ed: #investinme — watch on @NBC29

Virginia21 is an organization of college “kids” who want the Commonwealth to “invest” in them.  So I watched their 15-minute video to see what they had to say.

Mind you – I favor a college education <b>for those who are interested, and who can accept the intellectual rigor</b> (sometimes) <b>found in academic programs</b>. No matter my personal opinion of the value of some degrees; I’m treating all students alike in this post.

Every student should understand some basic concepts.  One shouldn’t get to college without knowing them:

– People make “investments” with the expectation of receiving some personal benefit.  Some believe a benefit to society is a personal benfit.

– People usually make “investments” with no <b>guarantee</b> of return.

– Those who are “frightened” of an investment will avoid it, mitigate it, or accept the fright as a learning experience.

– Investors have a variety of choices.  They select those where they believe the outcome will be worth the cost.

– Choices have consequences.

– Negotiation is a part of life.

So, let’s talk.  Why should I invest in you? No, not a group of “kids” – or even young adults – YOU.  What’s your end of the bargain?

Will you agree to remain in Virginia – or to pay Virginia taxes anyway – for 10 years after graduation?  Will you agree to work for Virginia-based companies, or to add another percentage point to the loan for its life if you don’t? Will you agree to pay Virginia income taxes no matter where you live and work? Will you agree to take any work for which you are physically capable and which doesn’t cost you more than you earn?  Can you answer “yes” to at least one of these – can you make it worth the taxpayers’ money?

You see, I didn’t hear any of that in your speeches today.  I didn’t hear “invest in me and I’ll return xxx to Virginia.”  I didn’t hear anything but vague promises of economic prosperity – politician words.

I heard individual issues.

One student said after parental contributions, jobs and loans there are “no other options.”  That may be true, if he included grants in with loans, if he accounted for scholarships, and if somehow he accounted for part-time education, delayed education, 0r military service (that carries with it an education benefit).

One student, perhaps the same one (I listened; I didn’t watch) said it’s “frightening” to know that jobs are scarce and income is not promised, while he has massive student-loan debt.  Welcome to adulthood.

Face it.  There have been better times to enter adulthood, and there have been worse.  It’s not personal; no one’s out to “get” today’s young people.  You live in a world of challenges.  If you can’t face the first, what makes you think you’ll face others without appealing to someone else to bail you out?

What are you investing?  Your time and brainpower?  If you want the degree, you’ll do that anyway.  Is the outcome worth the cost to you?  If not, why are you there?  If you can’t articulate what the degree will do for you AND FOR SOCIETY, don’t expect society to get generous.

Voter ID laws

Voter identification laws are getting a lot of attention in Virginia this legislative season.

Proponents are correctly noting that ID requirements can help to prevent voter fraud.  Opponents are correctly noting that voter fraud is not a big issue.

Opponents are also claiming that voter ID laws disenfranchise the poor, the elderly, and minorities.   In some way, that’s true.  Those groups are less likely to have ID, though with the possible exception of elderly individuals born before widespread (one might even say mandatory) issuance of birth certificates.  Opponents are claiming that minorities and the poor are less likely to have driver licenses — also (perhaps) true, but irrelevant if the acceptable forms of ID are not limited to drive licenses.

The real purpose of voter ID laws is to prevent unscrupulous political operatives (are there any other kind?) from offering to drive any group of people to polling places (to “exercise their god-given rights”), extolling the virtues of their candidate (and the “evils” of his opponent) during the drive, and thus swaying the elections.  This type of community do-gooder action (“driving people to the polls”) is touted highly, but is actually most often buying a vote.  If an individual calls a campaign headquarters and asks for a ride, it would be reasonable for that campaign to presume the individual will vote for its candidate.  For a campaign to go out to seek out people to take to the polls is disgusting.

I would surmise that amongst those people who would likely not have gone to the polls otherwise, there will be a percentage who do not have, for one reason or another, an ID.  I’d like to see actual data, but apparently it doesn’t prove a thing or the sides would be trotting it out.

Now, one might argue that it is a damn shame there are groups of people in any area who might be subject to such practices.  I’d agree.  That’s also irrelevant to the voter ID issue.

So one party is always afraid the other party will perform such “community service.”

It just so happens this time it’s the Republicans who believe the Democrats have more to gain by using this tactic.  This time, the Republicans believe the Democrats buy votes with promises of government programs (or loss of same).  It has not always been this way.

A tale of two hardware chains

Or are they “home-improvement” chains.

Whatever.

On the one hand, Home Depot, whose customer service has become atrocious lately, has stood up for its beliefs.

The hate group “American Family Association” *  has been pressuring Home Depot not to speak out in favor of human rights.  Apparently, it’s okay to favor human rights; you just can’t say so and stay on AFA’s good side.

On the other hand, Lowe’s chose to pull its advertising from the TLC Show “All-American Muslim”.  All-American Muslim follows families in Dearborn, Michigan.  Yet the primary hate group opposing it is the Florida Family Association (*).  Lowe’s comment:  “We believe it is best to respectfully defer to communities, individuals and groups to discuss and consider such issues of importance.”   Apparently they’ll defer to communities far removed from the one portrayed.

I haven’t watched All-American Muslim.  It’s not in a time slot I pay a lot of attention to; I know a number of American Muslim families; and I’m not a big fan of TLC.   I  cannot comprehend, though, a company pulling advertising based on opposition from a hate group.  When verifying the information on the Florida group’s web page, I note they’re pissed that neither Hershey’s and Campbell’s Soup has bent.

Excuse me.  I’m off  to buy Hershey’s cocoa, Hershey’s chocolate, and a few dozen cans of Campbell’s soup.   Then I’ll stop at Home Depot for my DIY needs.

Support your children

So, I’m keeping half an eye on the “path to citizenship” proposals being considered again.  I call them the “let’s reward criminal behavior” proposals.  In case it’s not clear, I am fully supportive of immigration — legal immigration — such as that my great grandparents and others of their ilk practiced.   I support nothing that ignores the fact that many people’s first action on American soil is  law-breaking.

I see many arguments for allowing those who were brought here as children, having no say in the matter, a path to citizenship.  I understand the argument that it is unfair to children that they be labeled as “illegal” as they didn’t choose — they did what their parents directed.

No dice.  The question should be addressed to the children.  Particularly to those in high school, or who want to go to college in the US.  Maybe an essay contest.   Describe why your parents would choose to raise you in a country where you have no legal rights.   You may address the issue from any angle you choose.  Did they not want you educated?  Do they not want you to vote?  Are they trying to teach that you can get something for nothing?  Why would they do this to you?

The arguments that “it’s for the children” ignores the fact that the parents — those biological units who are responsible for a child’s welfare — have elected to model illegal behavior as the norm.  We should be deploring the fate of these children with parents so unconcerned.

And we should be asking their home countries to take them back until they can model the right lessons.

What Michelle Obama SHOULD have said …

The 7-year-old told the first lady during a visit last week to New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in the Washington, D.C., suburbs that her mother had said President Obama was “taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers.”

The girl then adding that her mother “doesn’t have papers.” Mrs. Obama tried to reassure her that the president was working to solve the immigration problem and “everybody’s got to work together in Congress to make sure that that happens.”

Mrs. Obama’s response should have made these points:

– Parents are responsible for following laws

– Parents are responsible for teaching their children that we are a nation of laws

– Parents without papers are not legally living in the United States; they are breaking the law

That doesn’t necessarily make the parent a bad person, but it does make the parent a criminal.   “Criminal” means “breaking the law.”

Criminals are those people who choose not to follow laws.  Adults are responsible for the choices they make.  If they make choices that hurt their families, they are still responsible for the choices they make.

America welcomes immigrants.  Many, if not most, Americans trace their ancestry to immigrants within just a few generations.  Immigrants bring incredible diversity to a melting-pot nation.

As it was, Mrs. Obama told that little girl that everything would be okay; that people would be rewarded for breaking the law; and that Congress would overlook all kinds of lawbreaking if it got them votes.

Hypocrisy

You can’t rail against rationing health care, then pass laws that outlaw medical procedures because you don’t like them.  That’s rationing the health care people can get.  Or if you decide your medical plan can’t cover certain procedures, that’s rationing health care.

You can’t argue that the “other party” will stand between a doctor and patient, then define which medical procedures that doctor and that patient have as options.

You can’t insist your tax dollars won’t pay for one thing without allowing there are lot of things that are an anathema to many, even most, taxpayers.  Therefore, you can’t single out abortions without singling out plastic surgery, war, congresscritter staffs, bailouts, government takeovers of private industry, and myriad other things.   When you’re ready to present a menu from which ALL Americans can pick and choose, you’re free to not fund health care.

Now it’s up to the General Assembly

We need the Virginia General Assembly to keep the theocrats in check, now that they think they have some kind of mandate.  (It amuses me they’ll assume “mandate” on issues they didn’t mention during the campaign.)

They need to be reminded it’s GOP, not GOD.

Let’s Be Offended

Can  you imagine anything quite as inane?  Well, okay, I read the news; I guess I can.

To be offended by an obvious play on words?

When a society loses its ability to see humor, it is well on the way to oblivion.

This from the “news” media.  The ones who shouldn’t be covering idiots’ “sensibilities” or frivolous suits.

What’s wrong with this picture? Or, Logic 101 ….

racist:  racial prejudice or discrimination

rac·ist \-sist also -shist\ noun or adjective

(merriam-webster.com)

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From the Washington Post, September 14, 2009:

On Saturday, tens of thousands of protesters thronged to the U.S. Capitol to angrily accuse President Obama of taking the country in the wrong direction.

A day later, in the shadow of the Washington Monument, many participants at a much smaller gathering — the 24th annual Black Family Reunion — said the level of hostility toward the nation’s first African American president had little to do with policy differences over health care or taxes and everything to do with race.

We’re expected to bow down to a charge of racism because people disagree with the direction a black president is attempting to take the nation.  Never mind that the quote comes from a participant at the BLACK Family Reunion. Never mind that the incumbent is half white.  Never mind that participants in Saturday’s march, while not all protesting the same thing, can generally point to specific policy decisions or stances with which they disagree.

I saw photos of the march on Saturday.  All races and ages.

I saw photos of the reunion on Sunday.  I can’t say the same.

I’m not naive enough to think that some Americans wouldn’t like anything the current president does, simply because he’s black.  Of course we have not wiped out racism.   But I can’t help but think “racism” is a handy label, one that doesn’t require thought.  If you dislike something suggested by someone raised by whites, whose skin happens to suggest black, you’re racist.

Nor am I supporting those who liken Obama to Hitler.  I despise the man’s ideas, but refuse to be drawn in to ad hominem attacks.  There’s plenty to debate without assuming someone is evil.  I presume Obama really believes some of the crap he’s proposing; I don’t think he’s evil, but terribly, terribly wrong, and proposing to help our nation further down a wrong path.

I really don’t care who proposes the idea of government intervention in health care; I’m out.  I really don’t care who proposes the ideas of government bailouts of American corporations; I’m out.  I really don’t care who proposes raising my taxes, or considers me “lucky” instead of “talented” or “hard-working”, and then gives the money to others; I’m out.

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Oh, yes — another logic flaw:

“On Saturday, tens of thousands …”

“A day later …”

And later in the story:  “As they left the rally, many of those with opposing views walked through the Black Family Reunion, some stopping to eat at the booths. ”

Many of those with opposing views must be rather talented … walking through a Sunday function on Saturday.  Who says they aren’t ahead of their time?

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