*Peeps from behind hands*
*Smiles to still be alive*
*Ducks as car backfires outside*
IT DOESN'T REALLY MATTER
Yeah, I'm not Native American, and someone out there is probably thinking I'm being horribly insensitive to the needs of what's now an American minority. But, I'll let you in on a little secret: I, too, am mis-named "Indian".
The English speaking Caribbean is known as the West Indies. We play together on a cricket team under that name. And even today, most mail, especially in the smaller islands (population wise) has the last line of address as "W.I."
We're all called Indians, and we don't care, because it's just a name. Noone ever gets confused between the East Indians in Trinidad and Guyana and the Black West Indians because of the misnomer.
IT ISN'T ALWAYS RIGHT
What do you call a White person from Nigeria, who just became a legal citizen of the U.S.? You sure as heck can't call them African American, can you?
IT MAKES WORDS UNIVERSALLY BAD
[ri-tahrd, for 1–3, 5; ree-tahrd for 4]
–verb (used with object)
to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.
If I want to sell a fire extinguisher, I can't call it a flame-retardant without some watchdog agency jumping on my back. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration, but words existed before whatever (fairly arbitrary) connotations we give them.
SPEAKING OF ARBITRARY...
The right words are so arbritary. Once upon a time, I would have been a negro. Then I'd have been coloured. After which, I was Black. Now, I'm African-American. It's easy for a well-meaning person who's unfamiliar with a culture to use the wrong word and offend someone.
IT CAUSES UNNECCESSARY WORRY
I don't like offending people. And because there isn't that much that offends me, I'm pretty sure I offend unintentionally. A lot. I try to play by the rules. But I fail. Japan is restful in this sense, because the rules are so relaxed among the foreigner population.
WHY IT DOESN'T MATTER TO ME
For me, the importance is in the meaning of the word and the intentions. If you call me African American and you're friendly, that's cool. But if you call me Black (my preferred term) and then proceed to act like I rolled out of someone's sewage tank, I won't be thrilled.
In my books, it's still the thought that counts.
It's Monday. That's what's on my mind.