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Why did the terms ie. Native American, African Americans etc. come to be if they were born in the U.S?


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Showing 1-25 of 69 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 20, 2012 10:59:00 PM PST
grandma says:
And what do how do you refer to someone who is of mixed nationalities but born in the USA? ( of which I am)---Mongrel Americans? Mutt Americans? The whole thing seems dumb and I wonder why it was started.

Posted on Nov 20, 2012 11:31:05 PM PST
Twishy says:
Your question doesn't really make sense. Native American is a term used to refer to an individual who was a native to this land before the English came along and took over. African American is just a term used to describe those of African descent who were born in America. As to why it was started... well that's not a very intelligent question. Probably because Indian was the wrong term since Native Americans are not of the West Indies as Columbus originally thought and the term colored or negro seems racist. As far as someone who is of mixed nationalities... well that's kind of up to them. No one is forcing anyone to take a label it's just a term used in polite society that is politically correct. What other terms could possibly used for this?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 11:37:07 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 20, 2012 11:39:14 PM PST
Zetirix says:
"What other terms could possibly used for this?"

American works for me. As a Euro-mutt, I wouldn't desire to be called a "whatever"-American. French-American, Italian-American, African-American... all those put the idea of being American, second in my opinion. It's also a device that's used to divide people into groups.

I would only used the "whatever"-American for naturalized citizens, but that's a personal belief.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 20, 2012 11:52:11 PM PST
Old Goodie says:
My niece enjoys being ThaIrish (Thai & Irish) Me- I'm a proud American Mutt from families here before the Revolutionary War. My son is just proud to be American.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 12:17:06 AM PST
Ginny J says:
The absurdness of these "names" becomes apparent when people are asked to physically describe Bishop Tutu, inevitably they say "African American" ....but He's South African!!! Or a news reporter/policeman/witness to a crime describe the perpetrator as "african american" when they don't know if he/she is an american citizen or someone from Haiti, Jamaica or the Bahamas.. ...just because their skin is dark and "black" is now politically incorrect.............Even saying that a Mexican, Venezuelan, Canadian or Chilean citizen is not american is wrong. Since when is Mexico not a part of the Americas? There is more to America than the US.....North, Central and South America.
What do you label a man of Chinese ancestry, whose family has lived in France for 300 years, never marrying outside their race, who has emigrated to the US? Is he Chinese American or Franco American????

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 12:17:19 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 1:26:52 AM PST
A.White says:
Well, those are technically ethnicities, not nationalities. Only a person who is a citizen of Ireland, for example, can claim "Irish" as their nationality. To answer your question, though, it's because, from this country's very beginnings, people have put labels on others and themselves to set themselves apart from other groups. Before "Native American", some of the terms used were "reds", "red Indians", and a few unsavory terms. Before "African American", there was "negro", "colored", and, again, a few unsavory terms. The same can be said for other groups. The terms used to describe various groups have simply changed over time as society has changed. We no longer use terms like "red Indians" and "coloreds" because those terms originated as a result of a highly and institutionally racist and divided society.

I agree that labeling ourselves is not the best practice, but considering that this country had major issues with race and ethnicity way into the late 20th century, it will probably be a few more generations before there are no people alive who have been affected in any way by those issues and we can stop obsessing over such superficial and inconsequential matters. I should say, though, I find no problem with people celebrating their ethnicities, rather than using them to divide. I enjoy the fact that I can experience various cultures in one country, yet we've still managed to maintain a cohesive American identity. That's something that many countries struggle horribly with.

Also, it would be hard to find an American, regardless of race or ethnicity, who isn't technically a "mutt".

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 12:43:56 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 12:50:30 AM PST
Ginny J says:
Agreed...my point exactly............the labels are out of date and misunderstood. Ethnic pride can be celebrated without labels or libel........I too am like many a EURO/mutt American and my husband is from Puerto Rico.........We used to tell our daughters that they are ''Half-Rican American"....which has confused many a person who has asked them "What are you?" wanting to pigeonhole them or trying fill out a form with categories they weren't able to check off easily since they were looking at light skinned, blue eyed redheads with an hispanic last name ..........The questioner would invariably hear the answer as "African American" and the confusion generated would leave my husband and I laughing at the "huh???" reaction from the person seeking the category in which to put my children.............The girls know who they are and the ethnicities they celebrate........I've loved Tiger Woods' answer to "What are you?...African American or Asian?"...........He says he is who he is...........that to say that he was African American was to deny his mother and to say that he was Asian American was to deny his dad...............He is who he is.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 12:56:38 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 1:00:31 AM PST
J. D. Young says:
I can always tell a Faux News watcher by the questions they ask. Grandma probably heard Glenn Beck talk about how "un-American" the use of African before American is. LOL, can these people not think for themselves, can you not have one original, critical thought that originates from yourself rather than being spoon fed talking points by Faux & Friends? And the Republican party wonders why they lost the election, because you weren't able to get your brain dead cult followers to get out and vote, they couldn't figure out how to tie their shoes and walk to an election office.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 1:03:31 AM PST
D. Owen says:
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 1:05:38 AM PST
stevie says:
Just to add a couple of points to what you said: Columbus was from Italy and his voyage was funded by Spanish Catholic Monarchs. As far as the English taking the natives land, the Spanish were at least as brutal to the native populations in the Americas, and the French and Russians were not innocent either!

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 1:11:25 AM PST
It's all political correctness.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 1:12:02 AM PST
Jodee Gu says:
I am amused by these terms. My father is 100% American Indian and he loathes the term "Native American" because anyone born here is a Native American. He prefers American Indian, since it roots back to indigenous, which is exactly correct. American Indians describes the people indigenous to the Americas.
My husband's father is black and he strongly dislikes the label "African-American" since, in his opinion, we are assuming his ancestors came from Africa based on his skin color; for all we know, they could have come from Australia. I once described him as African-American and he quickly set me straight. He said that as a child, they told him he was "colored." As a young man, they told him he was "negro." As a middle-aged man, they told him he was "black." Now as an old man they have decided that he is "African-America." "Well," he said, "I refuse to change again. I am a black man and unless you can show me proof that I'm African, I am going to stay a black man and I will die a black American man." And he did. He was a fine example of a man with good sense who recognized how absurd the constantly changing labels are and decline to join in the craziness.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 1:21:41 AM PST
I couldn't agree more that the labels are unnecessary and completely outmoded. I live in Australia where North American trends tend to infiltrate our population because of television and the internet. I would like to suggest from afar that the labels remain simply because there have always been the labels. First, there were the so-called "scientific" ones, such as negroid, which became negro, and caucasian for white people supposedly from the caucas (in Europe). You were as much a negro in Africa as you were in America, the Bahamas, Jamaica or any other country to which slaves were transported. If you were of mixed race, you were called mulatto, and so on. I think the trouble was the negro was used in a derogatory way and the racism associated with the other "n" word that I can't even bring myself to say because it is so vile, caused someone to change the labels along the line, rather than abolish them altogether. Thus, the labels were changed to American and African American, but why is the latter label any better than negro? I can't see why, unless those who really are Americans of African descent really want to keep the label because they feel it is important to highlight those origins. Nothing wrong with that, but I don't see how it is more racist to say simply that someone is black or white. That's just kind of how it is, the bare bones of it all, how we see it in black and white. The nature of the English language is to categorise and point out opposites. There aren't any grey people, or brown people, or red people (although they did try to give the First Nations people that label once but it was turned around). I think when you go onto the internet and find sites like "Black History" that someone along the way has stated this is okay. MLK referred to himself as a black man, as has Nelson Mandela. I reckon if they think that's okay, then it is okay. Ever heard of the African English or the African French? They were born there, too, and simply identify as black. It's in all the poetry and writing from the Caribbean. It is in the literature. It is in the movies. Mexicans -- Chicano or Hispanic? I think the labels are now about how people identify. In Australia, the colour of your skin has nothing to do with it: it is all about how you identify. If you have Aboriginal ancestry, or even if you just identify with the struggles of the Aboriginal peoples, you can call yourself Aboriginal, and yes, I know many Aboriginal people with blonde hair and blue eyes. Even more racist here because they were once called "half castes" and there was a planned genocide by the government to "breed the blackness out" over a few stolen generations. So, I would say it is how you identify: black pride is the way to go, though, in my mind. Be black and proud.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 1:23:49 AM PST
A.White says:
Or maybe those terms are more civilized and decent ways of referring to people than "negros", "red Indians", and "Chinamen". Or would you prefer those terms?

It's worrying how some people mistake basic civility for "political correctness".

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 1:47:38 AM PST
MikadoWu says:
This is all about Class Warfare. One Political party wants to group everyone up and pit against others. While the other party treats everyone the same. I will leave you to determine which is which. Though most are surprised when they look at this logically.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 1:49:23 AM PST
Ginny J says:
My husband says that in Puerto Rico there are many words to describe the color of a person's skin........not only black,white and mulatto but varying shades of brown.......cinnamon, caramel etc...probably more than 20 for coloring alone .and a corresponding social level was in place for many years. As intermarriage increased and more families are now "multi-shaded", the shaded social strata seems to have disappeared except among the oldest generations.
Here the standard used to be if you had 1 greatgrandparent that was a "negro" then you were considered to be black and you were denied the rights that a "white" person was granted....... Many people who were "high yellow" travelled away from family because they could "pass" for white and had a fairer chance at
better jobs and social status.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 2:07:23 AM PST
A.White says:
Completely agree. It's unfortunate that we feel the need siphon ourselves off into groups, when few of us fit neatly into one category. People would consider it odd if a Native American referred to themselves as "Asian", but that's what he/she is racially. Most black Americans have European ancestry, yet they're considered "African American". Many white Americans have some degree of Native American and/or African ancestry, yet they're simply considered European racially. A white/black biracial person can call his/herself black, but would be considered crazy if he/she attempted to call his/herself white. Labels tend to be inaccurate because we base them on what we feel most comfortable calling ourselves or, even worse, what society feels most comfortable calling us. It'll be a great day when we cease to reduce ourselves to such madness.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 2:23:45 AM PST
Or Mr A White, you refer to them based on their country of birth, IE : American, Canadian, French, British etc etc. Which is how civilized people do it.

No one needs a preface before their country, period. All that does is reinforce class divides, and this is the main driver of racism, "Were different from you." It needs to end.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 2:34:32 AM PST
The historian Arthur Schlesinger wrote many years ago of this phenomenon. He likened it to using history and geography as psychotherapy. He disapproved for many reasons. The continent of Africa contains approximately 200 million Arabs who are indigenous to Africa, yet no one would consider calling them "African." Likewise in Asia. 75% of the continent of Asia consists of Russia and Russians who are called Caucasian but, of course, no one would consider calling them "Asian" as well. It appears that Liberals and the left abandoned all logic and common sense starting back in the 1980's, culminating in the divisiveness we see today.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 2:34:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 3:26:06 AM PST
A.White says:
Mr. D. Jamieson,

First, it's Ms., not Mr. Thanks.

Secondly, I never said that anyone NEEDED to refer to themselves according to race or ethnicity. That was not my point and I've already written two posts explaining why I take issue with such labels. My point is that when we are referring to someone's race or ethnicity using terms like "Native American" and "African American", it should not be considered "politically correct" because "Native American" and "African American" are terms that developed out of the need to use more civil terms than those that were used in the past. Those terms can only be considered "political correctness" if you believe that using past terms is acceptable.

Would it be better if we all just considered ourselves American and did not feel the need to use other labels? Obviously. My point is that if people ARE going to refer to someone's race or ethnicity, using terms like "Native American" and "African American" is a hell of a lot more civil than the unsavory terms that were standard in the past and which were used with vitriol. It's nothing to do with political correctness.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 5:44:11 AM PST
Dragonfly says:
>>. . . how do you refer to someone who is of mixed nationalities but born in the USA?

Grandma, you've gotten some wise replies here, especially about labels being used to divide people into groups. If you're doing family genealogy, then maybe it helps to know some origins and you can call yourself "Italian-American" or another label, but in the end we're all mutts. America after European, Asian, and many other immigrations, became the world's melting pot. We can be proud that for the most part, we lived relatively harmoniously together.

I believe that we really get to know ourselves in times of crisis. Labels that divide us don't matter then.
Remember 9/11.
Wasn't it enough to stand with others then, and simply be "American?"

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 21, 2012 6:13:50 AM PST
Last time I checked people are still flocking to become citzens of the United States of America. My ancestors cam here from Sweeden and Italy in the early 1900's. They did all they could to assimilate to their new American culture yet still kept the traditions of their homelands. If you asked them what nationality are they, their repsponse would of proudly been " we are Americans". Not Italian or Sweedish Americans... just Americans. If you are born here or have immigrated here legally you are now an American period.
I see it as an open opportunity to reap the benefits of America's social programs to consider yourself anything other than American if you are a leagal citizen here.
African-American, Asian American, People of Color (gimme a break), Hispanic American... all looking to just hit the easy button.

This reply was excellent!
Jodee Gu says:
I am amused by these terms. My father is 100% American Indian and he loathes the term "Native American" because anyone born here is a Native American. He prefers American Indian, since it roots back to indigenous, which is exactly correct. American Indians describes the people indigenous to the Americas.
My husband's father is black and he strongly dislikes the label "African-American" since, in his opinion, we are assuming his ancestors came from Africa based on his skin color; for all we know, they could have come from Australia. I once described him as African-American and he quickly set me straight. He said that as a child, they told him he was "colored." As a young man, they told him he was "negro." As a middle-aged man, they told him he was "black." Now as an old man they have decided that he is "African-America." "Well," he said, "I refuse to change again. I am a black man and unless you can show me proof that I'm African, I am going to stay a black man and I will die a black American man." And he did. He was a fine example of a man with good sense who recognized how absurd the constantly changing labels are and decline to join in the craziness.

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 6:23:37 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 21, 2012 6:29:02 AM PST
Cooper says:
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Posted on Nov 21, 2012 6:30:36 AM PST
Cooper says:
So why is People of Color okay, but Colored People is a racist slur?

Posted on Nov 21, 2012 6:32:02 AM PST
We all need to forget skin color and live together as HUMAN BEINGS. And if you are an American citizen, you are an American - not a hyphenated entity. This is all part of the brain-washing political correctness jargon. Whatever happened to being an American, living according to our Constitution - respecting persons and just getting along with everyone - and being proud of our country and our values? On second thought, whatever happened to our values?
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Discussion in:  Gold Box forum
Participants:  45
Total posts:  69
Initial post:  Nov 20, 2012
Latest post:  Nov 24, 2012

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