Archives for: December 2010, 01
"I'm no baby; I'm an Infantile-American!" This has been one among the many funny sayings and songs I've invented on the job over the decades, working with infants. There's also a little comment, when the supine baby's arm is resting over her/his head, hand in a fist (a very common position, especially when that arm has fought its way out of a swaddle): "Babies Rule". (One of my moms improved on this about 2 years ago: "Infant Power, man". ) Of all my baby-sayings, these two resonate most on the political level.
I have a pet peeve about the "(fill in the blank)-American" description attributing not only ethnicity but also American nationality to unknown individuals, on the basis of appearance alone. Are all black people "African-Americans"? "A male African-American, about 5'9": Really? Did you ask him his nationality? Did you get a good look at his features? What if he was neither African nor American? What if he was SriLankan-British? or Indian-Trinidadian? Or a black Frenchman?
And what about the racially mixed? Could a "European-Asian-American" be actually a Pacific Islander and more or less Caucasian? And what of the so-called "Hispanics"? Aren't they somewhat descended of Europeans? Native Americans?
It seems to me that this politically correct manner of adjectivizing people has created much more outrageous racism than we ever had with the words "white" and "Caucasian", "black" and "Negro". I'd think that calling a man "European-American" who is but a visitor to our shores from his home in Russia amongst his Persian-born family may be more deservedly ill-received than calling him "white" or, yet more accurately, Caucasian.
Then you have the variously "disabled" and "-challenged": Is it really cruel to refer to a blind person as "blind"? A friend recently referred to my "Infantile Americans" as "Developmentally-Challenged", with the sardonic implication that even my tongue-in-cheek terminology is becoming passé.
Here in San Francisco, there may soon come a day when it'll be considered "sexist" to identify someone as male or female! First comes the offense-taking, by one or two extreme activists, and then the legislation. The first phase is already a longstanding fact here: A simple "Excuse me, sir" can equally enrage a cross-dresser of either persuasion!
Of every possible background, I love working with babies and the moms who've just borne them. They know exactly what they are and don't care what you call 'em: "Babies Rule!"