I've been thinking again. I know, scary, eh?
I've been thinking about labels and how they came about and how they've changed over the years.
When I first started working as a Sign Language interpreter the category was called "Hearing Impaired."
I never thought a thing about it. We shortened it all the time as HI.
Thankfully many years later the Deaf community stepped up (because someone finally asked them, probably) and made it known that they were either Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
Thinking about that time led me to wonder of who comes up with these labels? That HI category I can tell you definitely came from hearing people. They also redefined the TTY (telephone for the Deaf) which is easy to read on someone's lips to TDD which is impossible to read. They also made a play for ASL, trying to bastardize the language into something that they thought was better - Signed Exact English. Yuck!
I could go on and on and on but let's keep going.
Native American, Native, Indian. I don't know many people in that group but when I asked a friend of mine which he preferred he said "Indian." He would also tell you, readily, which tribe he was from.
African American vs Black. I hear both identities used all the time.
I'm old so I go back to a time when "negro" and "colored" were used and worse. I remember when people started using Black, I wasn't sure if that was ok or not.
Asian, Asian American, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, etc. It gets confusing. I just finished a long back and forth text with my nieces who were both born in China.
"Asia" covers a lot of territory. For some people using that label is fine and then if asked, further definition (usually by other Asians, my niece Sara says) is made. My niece Emma said she's ok with Asian or Chinese but doesn't care for Asian American.
My friend Jim Koseki, as a proud veteran of the US military, defines himself as Japanese American.
Hispanic covers a lot of territory too, just like Asian. I chatted with my neighbor, Gasper, yesterday. He's second generation Mexican. Until just this minute, I forgot about Latin/Latino so now I'll throw that into the mix. It seems like those broad titles kind of robs a person of their proud heritage. I also wondered why people from Mexico speak "Spanish."
Germans speak German. Thai people speak Thai, etc. Why do Mexicans speak Spanish? Seems like another way of robbing them of their heritage.
Getting back to Gasper - he says he's Mexican. No fancy titles.
So, just to "stir the pot" a bit - all of the labels mentioned above belong to people of color. Except the Deaf people who blend in until they start signing. Then they stand out a bit.
My husband, Peter, is Sicilian. He's 100% Sicilian and proud of it. He'll also answer to "Italian" but will eventually let you know about the difference.
I'm a white older lady. You can't tell by looking at me that I'm half Scottish and half German. It rarely comes up in conversation unless I'm at a Celtic festival like I was last weekend or an October fest in the fall.
So where am I going with this? What am I trying to say?
People are proud of their heritage and their family history. They shouldn't feel pushed into a category if they don't want to be pushed though. They shouldn't be marginalized or chastised but we don't have the greatest track record for that in this country - as do many other countries in this world.
So where am I going? I don't know.
Just sittin' here in The Red House - thinking.