[Content Note: Racially insensitive language.]

On Friday, President Obama signed into law legislation to "modernize terms relating to minorities."
In a rare show of bipartisan support, the measure H.R.4238, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year. Obama signed it into law Friday.

...Here's what the bill states:

Office Of Minority Economic Impact.—Section 211(f)(1) of the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. 7141(f)(1)) is amended by striking "a Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or is a Spanish speaking individual of Spanish descent" and inserting "Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, or an Alaska Native".

"The term 'Oriental' has no place in federal law and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good," said Rep. Grace Meng of New York, who sponsored the bill.

Meng, a Democrat from Queens, encountered the term while doing legislative research and had sought to eliminate its usage from government terminology.

"Many Americans may not be aware that the word 'Oriental' is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land," she said in a statement.
That's excellent and much-needed progress. It's still imperfect, as there are, as examples, people who prefer "Latinx" to "Hispanic" and people who prefer "Black" to "African American." It's always best to ask individual people how they identify.

But that said, getting rid of some language that has long been considered offensive from government documents is a good thing. And it's pretty terrific that it passed unanimously.

Now if we could only convince every member of the House to be as sensitive in the rest of their legislation...

Shakesville is run as a safe space. First-time commenters: Please read Shakesville's Commenting Policy and Feminism 101 Section before commenting. We also do lots of in-thread moderation, so we ask that everyone read the entirety of any thread before commenting, to ensure compliance with any in-thread moderation. Thank you.

blog comments powered by Disqus