People keep using the term “African-American.” Why? What’s wrong with the word “black?”
Nothing, at least until the late 1980’s when Jesse Jackson said that people should use the term African-American instead. “Black tells you about skin color and what side of town you live on, he said. “African American evokes discussion of the world.”
Ok, he’s entitled to his opinion, but he isn’t our king. Scripps Howard columnist Deroy Murdock, jokes that as soon as Jesse Jackson spoke, you almost could hear the press corps taking dictation: “Now… they're…called…African-Americans.”
Even my tough, politically-incorrect colleagues at Fox often use the seven-syllable term. They use it in this business where every second counts. Why? Are they afraid someone will call them racist?
A Gallup poll found that only 24% of blacks want to be called African-American, Most said it didn’t matter. 13% preferred black.
So then why does it matter so much to whites?
When I gave Bill O’Reilly grief about using the longer word, he said he uses both “African-American” and “black”, and he was just “diversifying his speech” and “trying to do good writing.”
But “African-American” is confusing. I have a white relative who was born in South Africa and still spends much of the year there. Is he African-American?
And what about medical student Paulo Serodio? He was born in Mozambique, Africa, but came to the U.S. to attend college. He became an American citizen. Is he now allowed to call himself an African-American? Apparently not.
During a “cultural exercise” at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Serodio identified himself as a ”white African-American.” One student said she was offended by that . His professor told him never to do it again. He wanted a debate on the issue, so he submitted an article to the school paper. That provoked the school to order him to submit to a psychiatric evaluation. Eventually the University suspended him. That’s crazy.
Is it necessary to label ourselves by our heritage? My parents were born in Germany. Am I a German-American?
Teddy Roosevelt once said. “There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. A hyphenated American is not an American at all.”