Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No Apology Necessary

Jesse J. Holland of the Associated Press reports

Good Morning America co-anchor Amy Robach has apologized for saying "colored people" on Monday's broadcast of the ABC program.

During a segment on diversity in Hollywood, Robach, who was substituting for Robin Roberts, noted recent criticism for casting white actors "in what one might assume should be a role reserved for colored people."

After the broadcast, Robach released a statement explaining she had meant to say "people of color."

She called the incident "a mistake" and "not at all a reflection of how I feel or speak in my everyday life."


Holland continued "her use of the term sparked criticism on soical media." Many Americans are English-impaired.

If you call someone a  "person of intelligence," you're calling her an  intelligent person. If you refer to her boyfriend as "a person of evil," he is an evil person.   And if that makes you a "person of rudeness," you're a rude person.

News flash to fans of "people of color"- you are labeling individuals "colored people."

This shouldn't be so difficult, and wouldn't be if our interests were accuracy rather than using language for strategic purposes.   Deborah E. McDowell, director of the University of Virginia's Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, responded to the brouhaha by noting "if you are referring specifically to African Americans, people will frequently be specific and refer to us as African Americans."

Presumably that's because such individuals are in fact African-American.  However, McDowell is blowing smoke up our posterior when she claims "the preferred usage is 'people of color' if you are speaking about people of color broadly."

Uh, no. The preferred usage in the USA is "minorities," "ethnic minorities,"  or a more specific term such as "Asian Americans" or Hispanics/Latinos.  "Colored people" was once (unfortunately) acceptable, then recognized as offensive. Hence, though "people of color" often is used when speaking of "people of color" (whomever they are) broadly,  it is sometimes employed to refer to blacks specifically.

But maybe that's just the point. The speaker gets to use it to mean whatever he wants or even to obsure his actual meaning.

In physics, neither white nor black is defined as a color, black because "it is the absence of light, and therefore color."  Hence, it always was scientifically eccentric to refer to black people as "colored" and it is now absurd to refer to them ever as "people of color."

So, please, drop the "people of color" or "person of color" made-up nomenclature.  Given that the majority of people in the USA are considered "white," others may be considered "black." "African-American" is more accurate, assuming the subject is person or persons descended from the African continent. Meanwhile, "people of color" is no more accurate or appropriate than "colored people," at least according to this person absent of color.

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