Sunday, June 15, 2008

Not politically correct, technically correct.

There are some issues that I take a stance on that would, at the surface, appear to be me trying to be PC. In reality, I just want to be TC, technically correct.

Issue 1: Indians and Native Americans.
This one has bugged me for a long time. Why do we still call Native Americans Indians? We figured out a long, long time ago that Christopher Columbus landed in America, not in India. So why do we still call the natives here Indians? It makes referring to either the Native Americans or Indians very ambiguous. I also say Native American, and teach my kids to do the same, not because I am scared of offending anyone, but because I want to be clear in my meaning of who I am speaking about.

Issue 2: African Americans.
This is the stupidest term we could have come up with to define people with who descended from African aborigines.
The term itself is rather confusing. It is suppose to imply Americans who came from Africa. But that doesn't really stand up very well. Would a white person who becomes a naturalized citizen, and their children, be African Americans? What about a black person from Europe, Jamaica, or any other country who has moved to this country and become a citizen. They don't see themselves as Africans, so they aren't really African Americans, and neither are their children.
The other problem is that we are distancing blacks from other races. A person who comes from a long line of Europeans, Australians, or any other country, but born in the United States would simply be called Caucasians, or Americans. Are blacks a special bread of Americans that we need to define them differently?
A third issue is the difference between nationality and race. Nationality refers to the country you are born in, and has nothing to do with your ancestry. Race has to do with your ancestry, but not with your country of origin. All people born in Africa are Africans. When an "African American" moves to another country, are their children in that new country African American's? No. They are neither African nor American, either by race or nationality. To say someone is an African American is reference to their nationality, so why do we refer to that as a race? It is a technically incorrect way to refer to people who have black skin.
I suggest we call all people with black skin Negroes, and all people with white skin Caucasians, but really I just don't care, as long as the term is consistent and relevant.

On both of these issues, I don't take a stance because I am worried about offending anyone, I just want to use language that is clear and meaningful.