Entry 8: The words and identifiers, "African-American" and "Female"
Please allow me as a white male to express my dislike of those words. I've had a beef with "African-American" for a while. First, all Americans are "African-American" as all Europeans and Asians are African-Europeans and African-Asians: we all came from Africa. Second, and this is the far greater point, labeling black Americans as African-Americans, still, in my opinion, puts them down, because it treats them still, after hundreds of years in this country, as exotic, as the Other. They are not affiliated with Africa anymore. They are Americans, with American ancestors. Call them simply black Americans, or brown Americans. I don't know what you would do with Asian-Americans, if my system were to be fair. "Yellow's is an offensive term, so you'd have to call them Asian Americans if you wanted to indicate their appearance. But "black" isn't, so getting rid of "African-American" for something truer and more accurate is fine, I say.
Second, I shudder any time some man—and he's usually an authority figure like a cop or person in the Army—calls a woman a "female." It doesn't sound right. It dehumanizes her a bit. Amanda Hess at Slate slammed the use of the word in an NFL P.R statement about their domestic violence problem. "Male" doesn't carry that connotation because the world is still made up of men in power, men who use the word 'female" instead of the better, simpler "woman." Sure, both terms for identifying a woman have both terms of men in it, but "female" sound like a medical and chemical formula, a species name for living, breathing, individual women. Use female for other organisms. For the human kind, in our patriarchal society, it's more impersonal than woman. Get rid of it.
Get rid of both terms. A Fuck you to "African-American" and "Female."
*That is the awesome Nicole Beharie in the photo. If you haven't already, check out her great show, Sleepy Hollow, which has its second season premier tonight. You have to watch the first season, though. It's pretty fun.