Archive for Thursday, January 22, 2009

Better reference?

January 22, 2009


To the editor:

I find it interesting that we lump all Africa into one notion. It is a huge continent!

We have often referred to Irish-Americans or Swedish-Americans. Would it not be appropriate to refer to our new president as a Kenyan-American?

Don Conrad,


jafs 9 years ago

People who have come here from other countries are often referred to by their original countries' names - ie. Irish, German, etc.I see no problem with identifying the president as Kenyan-American if he likes the idea.

mom_of_three 9 years ago

But he has referred to himself as African American.

BorderRat 9 years ago

Having been born here but not a member of any of the indigenous peoples, can I use the term American Native? I think I'll put that on my next employment application and see what happens. I like it better than "White-Non Hispanic."

Leslie Swearingen 9 years ago

My daughter is half-black, and I am half Irish and half Dutch, what does that make her?She has not been to Africa that I know of and I have no idea of the history of her fathers family, or mine beyond my great-grandparents.They have all those check-boxes because somewhere someone is keeping track of who is doing what.But, dear God, do not let us go with Kenyan-American. That will open up a can of worms we do not want to deal with.Nit pickers should find something to do with their time.

RedwoodCoast 9 years ago

So what do we call folks with Mexican ancestry?

verity 9 years ago

One of the great strengths of the United States of America is the ability of people to become Americans while retaining what we choose of the culture we or our ancestors came from. We can live together with our diversity---and take on parts of other cultures if we so choose.In the end it doesn't matter what the label is---we are all Americans.

Leslie Swearingen 9 years ago

The great problem has been solved, we are all Children of God, and citizens of the United States are, wait for it-Americans!

RedwoodCoast 9 years ago

But I thought conservatives were the "real" Americans, and liberals were anti-American.

denak 9 years ago

A person should identify him or herself however the person wants to identify him or herself.If Barak Obama wants to identify himself as African American then fine. If he wants to identify himself as American, fine with.I have heard him address himself as both. It is his identity and he should be proud of both.What I have never heard himself refer himself as is Kenyan-American. Some people, like the letter writer and many of the posters here, just need to get over theirselves and accept the fact that we have a black president. You just make youself sound ridiculous when you write a letter like this. It is disingenious at best, racist at worst.Get over it. We have him for at least another 4 years and if the only thing you can criticize about him is his race and identity then you are a small person.Dena

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years ago

That is the dumbest thing I ever heard. Thank you, Lynn

Confrontation 9 years ago

There really should be a minimum IQ required for LTE's.

jafs 9 years ago

What's wrong with pointing out that Africa is composed of different regions?I don't see anything racist about it.Most people in other countries are far more knowledgeable about the world than Americans.Our not knowing that Africa is composed of many different regions with different cultures, etc. would be like folks not knowing America is composed of many different states.

jafs 9 years ago

In fact, if I understand it correctly (my lack of world knowledge is obvious), Africa is a continent composed of many different countries.Perhaps that is even more significant than America's differing states.

Trobs 9 years ago

I'm Cuban-German-Irish-Native-American!Or as I like to say...American.

Kirk Larson 9 years ago

We don't usually distinguish the country of origin in regard to African-Americans because most of them came to American as part of system that sought to remove all traces of their original culture in order to enslave them. Few African-Americans know what region of Africa their ancestors came from. Thanks to the conservatives' "one drop" rule, anyone with any African heritage was considered Black. I find it funny how conservatives today are trying to nuance the language of identity for which they are largely responsible.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

jafs (Anonymous) says… "In fact, if I understand it correctly (my lack of world knowledge is obvious), Africa is a continent composed of many different countries.""Perhaps that is even more significant than America's differing states."Or countries. America is actually a continent. Well, two continents, actually. In our hubris we refer to ourselves as American like we're the only ones, but Canadians, Mexicans (as I think redwoodcoast was alluding to), and for that matter Brazilians, Peruvians, Columbians, etc., are all Americans.I understand what the LTE writer was trying to say, but in calling attention to the lack of distinction between African countries when using the term African-American, he neglects the fact that there is an equal lack of distinction between American nations.How about Kenyan-UnitedStatesian?

RedwoodCoast 9 years ago

I'm still trying to figure out what we call US citizens with Mexican ancestry. Or Guatemalan ancestry. Or Peruvian ancestry.

denak 9 years ago

".....What's wrong with pointing out that Africa is composed of different regions?...."There is nothing wrong with pointing out that Africa is composed of 47 countries (58 if you count the island groups) if the reason for pointing it out is to genuinely educate others on that region of the world.As someone with a B.A. in Latin American History, it irritates the living daylights out of me when people assume Latin America is one big monolith devoid of different histories, cultures, languages and religions. However, I sincerely doubt that the intent of the letter writer was to educate us on the compliexities and richness of that region of the world.Rather, I suspect his motive was to take a dig at the new President and his heritage(s). There is three very good reasons why President Obama should be refered to as African-American.One, he identifies himself as such. Therefore, he is.Two, as someone rightly pointed out, the reason so many people identify themselve as African-American is that so many people in this country do not know their anscestoral origins thanks to the slave trade. And three, it is just a little historically dishonest to all of a sudden make a argument that Obama is bi-racial when for hundreds of years in this country, one drop of blood made someone black. That is why Obama and everyone else sees him as Black. Because for hundreds of years, Obama would have been black. He wouldn't have been "Kenyan-American" or even "African-American" but black. The term "bi-racial" isn't even on a census form now. There is no such racial designation because, again, if you have one drop of black blood, you are black. That is the reality in our country. One that is changing but obviously one that isn't changing fast enough if we have people like the letter writer who want to play games as a way to try to imply that Obama is a hypocrite.Dena

Leslie Swearingen 9 years ago

People do tend to forget South America. Geographically Mexico is part of North America. If you are my age no matter how good you were in Geography it will do you no good as names have changed since then.When the Soviet Union disbanded I had to learn a beaucoup new countries. That's when I learned, among other things, just how big Kazakhstan is. I mean that place is big. That is why I keep a National Geographic world map handy so I can look up places when I hear about them on the news. I also have Google Earth for further reference.Does anyone realize that Don's letter is five lines long and it provoked at least five pages of comments.Way to go Don.

notajayhawk 9 years ago

RedwoodCoast (Anonymous) says… "I'm still trying to figure out what we call US citizens with Mexican ancestry. Or Guatemalan ancestry. Or Peruvian ancestry."Following the predominant continent-hyphen-continent format, I guess they'd have to be:American-Americans.Maybe American-squared?(Does that make immigrants from other American countries more American than Americans?)

RedwoodCoast 8 years, 12 months ago

I was thinking something along the lines of Latin-American-American.

notajayhawk 8 years, 12 months ago

Then would we have to call transplanted Argentinians 'South-American-Americans,' and Canadians 'North-American-Americans?'

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