Saturday, May 21, 2016

No More Negroes or Orientals

From The Hill:

President Obama has signed legislation striking outdated racial terms such as “Oriental” and “Negro” from federal laws. Obama signed the bill without fanfare on Friday along with six other pieces of legislation, the White House said.

...

Thanks to the new law, references to the term “Oriental” will be replaced with “Asian American” and the word “Negro” will be changed to “African American.”

The new terms are apparently considered less potentially offensive.

On the other hand, the old terms are also more generic, since they don't single out American citizenship.

Google offers:

Ne·gro ˈnēɡrō/ dated offensive noun 1. a member of a dark-skinned group of peoples originally native to Africa south of the Sahara.

And:

o·ri·en·tal ˌôrēˈen(t)l/ adjective 1. of, from, or characteristic of East Asia. "oriental rugs" synonyms: eastern, Far Eastern, Asian, Asiatic; literaryorient "oriental cooking" 2. (of a pearl or other jewel) orient.

But Merriam-Webster finds that it, too, is sometimes offensive. Perhaps the new terms will similarly be deprecated and need to be replaced in a couple of decades.