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When is a Canadian an American? A note on being PC...(38 posts)

When is a Canadian an American? A note on being PC...TJeanloz
Jun 12, 2003 6:41 AM
As anybody who watched the news (specifically, the sports) last night knows, Grant Fuhr, one of hockey's great all-time goalies, was inducted into the Hall of Fame yesterday (or maybe the day before). Each Boston newscaster diligently noted that he was the first "African-American" to be elected to the Hall. Except that he's Canadian - are black Canadians "African-Americans", or no?

While I realize that Canadians and Mexicans are technically Americans, due to their coexistence on the North American continent with the US, most Canadians I know would tell you they are not American.

In an even more amusing note, I heard Tony Parker referred to as "African-American", and he's French. I bet his hometown fans really appreciate that...

So does anybody know what the correct (PC-wise) usage of the term is? Is African-American the correct substitute for anybody of African descent who no longer lives on the African continent?
why don't they just say "black"?DougSloan
Jun 12, 2003 7:16 AM
Just avoid the confusion and say "black." This whole "X-American" terminology is stupid. I never thought of myself as "Norwegian-German-Cherokee-American". I guess I'm "white."

If a white guy from South Africa moves to the U.S., then what is he?

Using geographical terms to describe race has problems, as you are pointing out, especially when there is a desire to also note the new location of the individual in the term. Well, I guess we do that for Asians, though.

"Hispanic" is a whole 'nother thing. Mexicans appear to have more in common with Native Americans/Indians than they do people from Spain, yet they are lumped in together; however, a person in America of Continental Spanish descent would likely be labeled "white." People are labeled "Hispanic" if Spanish is their primary language or if they have a Spanish surname. By these definitions, Fresno has changed from white majority to now about 41% Hispanic and 39% white/non-Hispanic. I think it's not so much that the actual population changed, but that the definitions changed.

I have no idea how to answer your question, though, other than to suggest that you just have to ask the person referenced.

why don't they just say "black"?Jon Billheimer
Jun 12, 2003 7:52 AM
I agree with Doug. Here in Canada the announcement about Fuhr was simply that he's the first black to make it into the Hall of Fame. During his career here in Edmonton his nickname was "Coco", and that was the extent of any racial referencing. The American newscasters are obviously so caught up in their ethnocentrity they can't even get his national origin straight! BTW, Grant's background is about as mixed as everyone else's and he doesn't see himself culturally in the same way as American blacks do.
yeah it is crazyColnagoFE
Jun 12, 2003 8:06 AM
you don't hear people referring to "irish-americans" or "japanese-americans" in normal conversation so why the african-americans? unless you just came over on the boat from africa you are just a plain "american" in my book regardles of your ancestor's ethnicity. If there is some special significance to his being black then just say black.
Indeed crazyNo_sprint
Jun 12, 2003 9:02 AM
Unfortunately JJackson and Cochran and the NAACP or ACLU will undoubtedly bandwagon Joe Shmo from who knows where who happens to watch that particular broadcast and be offended and get all over your @SS should you not go PC these days. Truly ridiculous. I've always looked forward to the days in which I no longer have to hear JJackson in the news. Unfortunately I fear the day I have to hear from his son equally.
Why disperage JJackson, Cochran, NAACP, ACLU etal at every turn.kilimanjaro
Jun 12, 2003 12:24 PM
First of all I am pretty sure that these organizations and individuals don't share the same view on racial nomiclature. Specifically I don't think ACLU takes a position on "Black" vs. "African American". Also, since NAACP did not even change its name I doubt if it officially opposes calling people "Black". When you lump so many individuals/organizations together without checking facts you loose credibility. By the way czar does the same thing from the opposite spectrum. At least he provides some substantive arguments that allow me to sometimes get past the hyperbole(sp?).

My personal criticism of No_sprint aside, what's the beef with calling people by what they want to be called? Why don't we go back to using Negros, Colored or the big N word? After all the last term originally only referred to slaves from Nigeria.

So we have a few inaccurrate and funny situations like Tony Parker referred to as African-American. What is the big deal. I am sure that he can ask to be referred to as French or -French if he chooses.

I think it is great that Blacks in Canada are happy to be referred to as Blacks. Maybe it has to do whith Canada not having a slavery legacy; I don't know. Obiously enough people this side of the border prefer the term "African-American" for the term to be widely used, though plenty still prefer to be called black. A few old timers even prefer to be called negroes.

I think common etiquete can help us navigate these waters easily. Call people what you think they want to be called. If they correct you just use the new term if it within reason.

By the way here in the south-west corner of the Left/Communist coast I do hear the terms Japanese-American, Chinese-American a lot. If in your neck of woods people do not use these terms then it only reflects your local culture.

I have an entire rant on the PC label that I will save for another time.
Huh? What are you talking about? Desperage? what?No_sprint
Jun 13, 2003 6:55 AM
I've never posted JJackson, Cochran, referred to the NAACP or the ACLU in any post before in here ever.

Desperage? What the heck is that? Where did I do that? If you say I disparaged them, same thing! Where?

Thanks for saving it.
Why defend JJackson ? nmLive Steam
Jun 13, 2003 7:03 AM
Ironically neither does Tiger Woods nmLive Steam
Jun 12, 2003 10:00 AM
Why did race have to come up at all?Spoke Wrench
Jun 12, 2003 10:20 AM
They start with an irrelevant observation, then use a stupid term to describe it and finally try to clean it up by using a statement that's not technically accurate.

A bigger question might be: What's happening with journalism? It looks to me like their trying so hard to be entertaining that their function of being informative and accurate is being slighted. I used to think that it was just the local television news clowns, but the New York Times thing has led me to believe that it's affecting all news media.
I think it has some relevance,TJeanloz
Jun 12, 2003 10:24 AM
I think that it does have some relevance, in that Fuhr was the first black person inducted into the Hall. Jackie Robinson's race is relevant, so I think Fuhr's is too.
I think it has some relevance,Jon Billheimer
Jun 12, 2003 10:39 AM
I agree, but for different reasons. Jackie Robinson was relevant because of racial barriers in professional sport at the time. Grant because of participation rates of blacks in hockey, not due to institutional racism but because of culture. Not too many black kids in the U.S. had been playing hockey. In Canada, we simply don't have that large a black population, and most of them are pretty recent immigrants. Grant got into hockey because of where he grew up and the family he grew up in.
I think that discredits Grant's achievements.Spoke Wrench
Jun 13, 2003 8:05 AM
Here's a guy who has won five Stanley Cups and his claim to fame is being the first black to make the hall of fame?
I think that discredits Grant's achievements.Jon Billheimer
Jun 13, 2003 8:32 AM
You're absolutely right!!! The racial angle is trivial. His claim to fame is that he was part of probably the finest hockey team ever assembled in the history of the sport. Not that I'm prejudiced or anything, coming from Edmonton:)-

I remember that after especially hair raising games, when he was being interviewed he would characteristically shrug off the drama of the game saying something like, "It wasn't too bad tonight. I made a few saves. Felt good." Grant was always sooo cool, so understated, almost self-deprecating at times.
Doug, do you use "yellow" and "red". . .czardonic
Jun 12, 2003 10:37 AM
to refer to Asians and Native Americans? Glancing at your photo, and you look more brownish orange than white. A lot of "white" people are actually pinkish, and all "black" people are really brown.

"Black" and "White" can carry all kinds of conotations that have nothing to do with skin pigmentation.
no labels at allDougSloan
Jun 12, 2003 1:57 PM
I mentioned somewhere that I'd prefer no labels at all. Why is skin color even relevant? Problem solved.

But when "statistical analysis" identifies "traits". . .czardonic
Jun 12, 2003 2:16 PM
. . .you'll need labels to define what groups you are attributing them to.

Right, Doug?
when I was aMJ
Jun 12, 2003 7:56 AM
social worker - we could not describe a child who had been abused as having a "black eye" due to negative connotations - the child had a "bruised eye"

PC extends beyond the shores of the US and is just as frustrating

BTW - if you don't describe black or asian English people as English there could be some serious problems - to imply that only white people can be English is pretty insulting here

also - Euros laugh heartily when white Americans describe themselves with a hyphenated European country name in front of "American" - you can't be a Norwegian American if you can't speak Norwegian...

I would imagine that the fine folk of west africa wouldn't consider black americans to be african in any sense of the word...

neverthless - it's interesting how people describe themselves - and even more interesting how it changes...
when I was aBikeViking
Jun 12, 2003 8:28 AM
After 9/11 there was a commercial put out by the Ad Council and it simply had people of EVERY color and gender, some with accents, some without, looking at the camera and simply saying "I am an American".

That should say it hyphens needed.
Jun 12, 2003 9:06 AM
But then racial preferencing, affirmative action and so much other crap would be automatically abolished in favor of mostly merit.

You know who and what types would be crying then.
I'm a minority53T
Jun 12, 2003 9:40 AM
I'm no longer white. I now identify with Irish-Americans.
Me too.No_sprint
Jun 12, 2003 9:44 AM
Caucasians were a SERIOUS minority in both my Junior High and High schools.
Though I have stated my .....Live Steam
Jun 12, 2003 9:57 AM
heritage here before, when asked by "other" Americans, what I am, I say "I'm American". I have done that since first visiting Italy as a child. They then have to rephrase their question as to where did your ancestors originally come from :O) Do people in other parts of the country refer to themselves as being Irish, Italian, etc? Since New Yawk is the melting pot, it is often do so here. He is this or that. I guess it's done for some sort of reference purpose (can't be to stereotype :O) I think the huge influx of immigrants in recent years has perpetuated this. Many of the new immigrants what to infuse their culture into the local community rather than shed it for American traditions.
race, nationality, and ancestry are different things nmDougSloan
Jun 12, 2003 10:03 AM
Agreed, but I responded ...Live Steam
Jun 12, 2003 10:09 AM
to Vikings post about the 9/11 commercial. It still applies to the topic at hand though. The terminology of X-American puts up walls that separate us rather than unite us. Asian, black, Irish, Italian, etc. I think the sportscaster who refered to Fuhr as an African American either took the safe root or did it on learned reflex.
what's ironic, I thinkDougSloan
Jun 12, 2003 10:17 AM
Didn't mean to criticize in my response; sometimes you just stick a message wherever.

I think it's ironic that Liberals are the ones who persistently demand labeling. If it were up to most Conservatives I know, we'd not even reference race, ethnicity, or nationality, and treat everyone as a "person" with true equality. I think the well-intended efforts of the Left at "diversity" and "affirmative action" actually result in furthering problems. While I believe we all have the same goal, ending racism and treating everyone equally, we just differ in the method.

I thought the program ...Live Steam
Jun 12, 2003 10:39 AM
put my messag where it belonged in the tree. Well anyway, I think you are correct about affirmative action initiatives and the whole PC thing. They point out differences rather than mask them. As I stated in a post a while back about my family history, my Grandmother never looked at people for what they where, but for who they were. Joe was the shoemaker and may have been Irish while Sal was the fish monger may have been Italian, but she said no one cared. It was a community of hard working people.
Labels are a response to the abuse. . .czardonic
Jun 12, 2003 10:43 AM
. . .of common sense terms by racists and and other bigots. I don't necessarily agree that they are an effective or constructive response, but there good reasons why some people are picky about the terms used to refer to them.
I have to agree with my friend here!Live Steam
Jun 12, 2003 10:59 AM
"Black" can have a negative connotation, yet this is what was deemed preferred by "what ever the PC du jour is", back in the '60s. Prior to that it was "colored people". Ironically the NAACP hasn't yet seen it fit to change their name.
The NAACP still represents colored people. . .czardonic
Jun 12, 2003 11:13 AM
. . .of all colors.
The NAACP still represents colored people. . .Live Steam
Jun 12, 2003 11:23 AM
The NAACP was founded to further the interests of minorities - primarily blacks. I am not aware of the NAACP working on behalf of Asians, Native Americans or whites of varying cultural backgrounds for that matter. Maybe you can show me where I missed it. If they want to give some false impression that they take up causes for people of other ethnicities, so be it.
America's primary racial minority has historically been Blacks.czardonic
Jun 12, 2003 11:43 AM
So, of course the cause of Blacks has always been central to the NAACP and a primary reaons for their formation. But the NAACP does not lobby for "black" rights. It lobbies against discrimination agains minorites.

As an example of other groups the NAACP has stuck up for, they recently took a Republican to task for endorsing the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII.

The NAACP also took up the issue of sports teams using Natice American mascots.

Check out their "associations" page: I don't know what the extent of their affiliation is with any of these groups, but they seem to recognize a common cause.
mostly "African American"DougSloan
Jun 12, 2003 2:09 PM
It mentions "African American and other minority..." several times and "Black", too, in its mission plan.

My guess it that it is primarily oriented toward helping "African Americans", but tangentially assists with similar problems for other racial minorities.

Blacks were the "primary" targets of discrimination. . .czardonic
Jun 12, 2003 2:23 PM
. . .when the group was founded. Thus, it is natural that its membership would be "primarily" Black, and that it's "primary" orientation would be Black issues.

You seem to be implying, as in your suggestion of "tangential" assistance, that the NAACP is only concerned with Blacks and that any benefit to other groups is a mere accident of their agenda.
Why should they care? About mascots, that is.94Nole
Jun 18, 2003 12:09 PM
The Chief of the Seminole Tribe of Florida comes to an FSU football game every year and is recognized in front of 80+ thousand screaming fans and openly SUPPORTS Florida State University in the use of the Seminole name and mascot Chief Osceola riding upon Renegade (horse).

Why should the libs care one iota if the Chief of that people is proud and openly supports its use?

THis is the part that confuses the heck out of me. But the libs always did know better than the people themselves.
they'd be changing their name every 6 months nmDougSloan
Jun 12, 2003 2:00 PM
Agreed, but I responded ...Jon Billheimer
Jun 12, 2003 10:21 AM
I think the American reporting is simply reflexive of racial politics in the States. FWIW, Fuhr was adopted as an infant by a white family here in Spruce Grove, AB. He is also a cousin of Heather Fuhr of Ironman Triathlon fame. I'd imagine his identity is wrapped up much more in hockey than his racial origin.

Here in Canada hyphenation is much more the norm than in the U.S. due to our politics of multiculturalism. Multiculturalism was a clever political invention of Pierre Trudeau as a means of throwing more money at Quebec, then later became a vote-buying tool all across the country with every conceivable ethnic group imaginable receiving funding for this, that, or the other thing. Being American myself and accustomed to the melting-pot idea I find our hyphenated-Canadianism really irritating. Twenty-seven years ago when I was interviewing for a job with the President of my company he quite hotly asserted that I was "German-Canadian" because of my last name. Equally assertively I told him that I'm American...period! Personally, I think constant reinforcement of one's historic national or ethnic roots tends to balkanize society. Unfortunately, politicians and minorities play on it for political, social, or financial gain.
It's even worse than that:Alexx
Jun 13, 2003 4:53 AM
Around here, the teachers in local high schools have been warned to not use the word "niggardly" (lest to many people giggle, I guess). They claim that it sounds too much like "the N word", and I guess that teaching proper usage is just too difficult for them.....Oy!

Well, I'm guessing the uses of the words "chink" (A narrow opening, such as a crack or fissure), and "spade" (A sturdy digging tool having a thick handle and a heavy, flat blade that can be pressed into the ground with the foot) are probably soon going to be banned, too.