- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 29, 2008

Recently, I attended a scientific conference in the District where research was done on a variety of aging issues examining numerous variables by race. Of the 30 or so posters and sessions I saw, all but one called their elderly participants “African American” and only one of the 30 actually used the term “black” for the studies. I finally asked one researcher from Virginia why she used the term “African American” and if she even asked the elderly participants in her study what they self-identified as racially” and she said it did not occur to her to ask.

This began a conversation on the term itself, and I prefer the terms “black” or “person of color.” If the researcher took the time to ask her research participants — those 60 and over — she may find they feel the same. “African American” is what every black American is now, a term pushed by the media and adopted without thought. Don’t call me African American.

Ironically, this researcher did not even know who originally coined the term “African American,” and like the lemmings of society, she and others adopted it immediately because it was politically correct at the time, and major media has since suckered all those under 25 to believe that is what we should have always been called. Not the case.

Look at Tiger Woods — he is about as African American as I am Dutch. The term itself is actually racist in the sense that it clearly identifies and separates Americans to be those with only African roots (who used to be called black) to now be called African American. What about the naturally born white Africans who move to America to settle? What are they to be called? Euro-African American? I don’t think so. They would actually be the truest kind of African Americans.

The term “black” or “person of color” does not define or limit our existence to be only of African descent. At this point, over 150 years after the end of slavery, blacks are so blended with other races and ethnicities such as white, Indian and European that I find it self-absorbed to quickly adopt a term “African American.” Many blacks in this country do not even speak an African dialect (and are more likely to be bilingual with Spanish as the second language as opposed to Swati), have not been to Africa, probably could not name five African countries, do not wear tribal or African clothing, do not cook authentic African food, but yet consider themselves to be “African American.” Makes very little sense. Just color me a black American or person of color, and I’ll keep with either term for my racial identification.

ANDREA VALDEZ

Fayetteville, N.C.