Linguistic divisions

The news these days has had me thinking, and it finally made me realize something.

You see, I despise the [Whatever-American] terminology for ethnicity. Asian-American, African-American, all those. Hate those terms with a passion. And I’ve finally figured out why.

They’re dangerous. The whole non-racist/post-racial society that we want? Those terms are detrimental to the whole thing.

Why? Because they’re hideously racist. And even worse, they’re insidiously racist.

Because they imply, by definition, that white is some sort of default. "Oh, if you’re white, you’re just American. It’s everyone else who needs to be specially identified."

That sort of thinking is what keeps "us vs. them" alive, even in the minds of people who otherwise aren’t prejudiced. It’s the sort of thinking that leads to people assuming that all characters in books have to be white, or casting Sigourney Weaver as an Biblical African queen.

When was the last time you heard someone referred to as a Caucasian-American? You haven’t, or at least not often, because the language itself has trained us to think of "Caucasian" as the unspoken default. We’ve already learned, throughout history, that you cannot have "separate but equal." So how can we possibly reach equality when the language itself works at keeping us separate?

If you’re an American citizen, you should be an American. Period. Ethnicity should have no bearing on it, and the terminology for ethnicity should not draw on citizenship.

There is no "default" except human. Our language needs to reflect that, not cloud it.