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Put ‘African-American’ label in the trash heap

Thank you Gibre George.

If you’ll permit a white guy to write about this subject, how pleasing it is to see that some younger black people aren’t fond of the term “African-American” when referring their race.

If a two-word combo ever equaled the sound of long fingernails dragged down a chalkboard, that is it.

An Associated Press article appearing in Monday’s edition of The Florida Times-Union credited Mr. George, who lives in Hollywood, FL, with starting the Facebook page Don’t Call Me African-American. “It just doesn’t sit well with a younger generation of black people,” the 38-year-old entrepreneur was quoted as saying.

Apparently a lot of people agree, and one can only hope that they are black people, both young and old. It’ll have to be blacks themselves who toss this offensive term into the ash heap.

The article points out that blacks in America have been called various names over the years — nigers (from the Latin and the root for the now toxic “N” word), Negro (from the Spanish), colored (as in separate drinking fountains) and in the 1960s, black and Afro-American.

In the late 1980s, Jessie Jackson — a huckster and shakedown artist with few equals in modern times — was credited with launching “African-American” into the language mainstream. (Mr. Jackson’s association with the term should be enough to turn off the younger generation, but we’ll see.)

So the dreaded term made it into the lexicon, fueled by the political correctness climate that has since wormed its way into all public language. The media, of course, jumped right on it, referring to this day without any tinge of irony to white people as white and black people as “African-American.”

My position, and the reason you never see “A-A” used in this newspaper, has always been: “If a person’s race is important to a news story, then it should be — get this — a matter of race only. In the case of whites and blacks, that generally means the color of our skin.

An example: when the cops are looking for someone, that person is described as “a white male driving a red pickup” or a “black man wearing...”

On the other hand, one never refers to a person’s race when it shouldn’t make a difference. “A Glen St. Mary man retired from the school district after 45 years.”

Who gives a damn what race he is.

There are exceptions: “A Macclenny woman, the first black school principal hired in Baker County, has retired after 45 years.” In this case, the person’s race is notable because, the reader can accurately infer, there was a time when blacks weren’t hired as school principals.

If race matters, we say so. “African-American” is not a race, and Mr. George makes that point in the AP article.

In fact, and this makes me believe that Jessie Jackson indeed is at the root of this dreaded designation, “African-American” is divisive — just like Mr. Jackson and his generation of civil rights dinosaurs.

My hope is that younger (and many older ones according to a 2011 NBC/Wall Street Journal poll) blacks want to be known as Americans, and they’re going to be making their voices heard more in the coming years.

We are all Americans, with no hyphen.

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