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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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.

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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