UNITED STATES—I would like to say that the political correctness of today’s world has me really thinking about whether I can give my honest opinion.
Since I’m on a roll in pissing off parents across the country, I’m just going to push ALL the topics that bother me. Sparked at the moment by this AWESOME photo in Wikimedia Commons a couple of days ago that I wanted to use for the piece on motorcycles.
But I was afraid.
I’m not sure what the problem in my head was: thinking about the former oppressive segregation, or that it was once a factual part of our tragic history. Perhaps I was just DOWNRIGHT ASHAMED that white people did it YET AT THE SAME TIME proud that white people also helped do away with it. I don’t know.
All I know is it bothered me for days, the fact that I had to feel such strife over whether to use that photo, worried it would bother someone. I decided to use it, see above.
I look at him and wonder… What did HE THINK about the word “colored” lurking behind him? I wish he were here to tell us what is the most politically correct, fair and non-separating term that we should move forward using? I am sick of the elephant in the room that I believe stems from not knowing correct terminology, coupled with individual learning experiences. Like mine below…
When I was a teenager there was a beautiful black woman hired by the high school as a counselor and I was lucky enough to interview her. I asked if she was proud to be the first African American counselor on the staff and she looked at me, saying “I am not African American, I’m Italian.”
It was then (age 13) that I learned: just because someone has dark skin DOES NOT MEAN we can term them as African-American.
Hence why I call everyone black, light-skinned, or white.
SKIP AHEAD to 20 year later, and my twins are in elementary school. A kid in the neighborhood said he preferred to be called brown. It made sense if your skin is brown, as I sometimes refer to myself as pink. When I tried to use the term brown instead of black in conversation with a couple of people I grew up with, they looked at me like I lost my freaking mind.
So if there is one term that is preferred, let’s not waste anymore time, let’s get it out and start talking about it.
It should be the last thing Obama does before vacating. Use his vast and country wide resources to poll for the politically correct term that will be the terminology we teach our youth.
I ask for this NOT ONLY because the way to remove the undesired terminology is to replace it with what is desired, but because it seems to me by labeling two types of humans as the opposite BLACK or WHITE, you are actually helping it to be that way: BLACK VS WHITE.
Where I live is so diverse that I could never agree when people said there weren’t many black people in their 1980s classrooms. That was not what I remember at all.
Of course it was due to being poor Irish on the same side of town with every other kind of human that was deemed a minority. I have grown up with many people of many colors and even met a young woman that had the darkest skin I had ever seen, a burgundy-dark brown hue.
But she plain and simple wasn’t black.
If using the term Black is unacceptable (although this article in EBONY says it has evolved to invoke pride) we need to be told what is right, and by people who understand the intricacies of cross-racial identification: that people easily identify others with similar ethnic characteristics. Most white people cannot differentiate from different types of “black” skin (Caribbean, African, some Asian) any easier than black people can tell which kind of white (British, Irish, Australian.)
I keep thinking that back when the term colored was used, did anyone ever refer to white people as uncolored?
Would white people have liked it?
No. No more than I like the fact that my white skin makes me feel ashamed for the atrocities and sins of my forefathers, but that is a whole other story…