This oped in the NY Times reveals that the term “African-American” is not a one size fits all category for those who are “black.” The problem is that it is self-segregating based on physical characteristics, not ideology or something more substantial.
Beyond this, it isn’t accurate. Let me demonstrate.
Pop quiz: How many African Americans are in Dave Matthews Band? Look closely.
Answer: there are 5 members in the band. There are two white guys. And there are four African Americans. How is this possible? Dave (2nd from the right) is from South Africa, making him both white and African American.
Alan Keyes argues that the label “African-American” only belongs to those who are descended from African slaves. But this does not do justice to African Blacks of non-slavery descent.
Unfortunately, any politically correct term can develop pejorative uses over time, creating the ever present cycle of new politically correct terms.
I am frequently at a loss as to the most appropriate and respectful way to talk about race with African-Americans. It seems that either way, there is the potential for offense.
In the opinion of the NYT editorial, the term “colored” works just fine. Provocative…