What is African-American?

I just found out that there is a Grade 11 student at Westside High School in Omaha, Nebraska, who decided to nominate himself as a recipient of the school’s “Distinguished African American Student Award”. It turns out that not only was he denied access to the award, but he was suspended from school for two days. The young man is white and the award, according to the school, is for black students. But here’s the real kicker?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùhe’s from Africa. Actually, he’s from South Africa.

If we interpreted the name of the award literally, then so long as the young man considers himself to be American, it would seem he qualifies for the award on that merit alone. In fact, it quite likely he is more “African” than any other recipient in the last eight years.

This now leads me to wonder, what exactly does the term “African American” mean? Does it mean an American with ancestry from Africa? Or does it mean someone who’s black? What if the black person’s ancestors immigrated (or were exported, as the case may be) to Brazil or the Caribbean or even England first, lived there for a few generations and then moved to the United States. Would the term still apply to them or would they be more aptly referred to as “Brazilian American” or “Jamaican American” or “English American”? Personally, I think the whole thing is ridiculous, and here’s why.

First of all, it’s a term based on colour. Someone from Egypt or Libya isn’t referred to as African American unless he or she is black. Though we do have a similar term in “Asian American”, it doesn’t refer to people from Russia, India or Armenia. Even so, it doesn’t even refer to white persons who live in places such as Hong Kong. A term like “European American” or “Australian American” would likely be met with cynicism, so why make exceptions?

Secondly, how long would a person living in the United States be “entitled” to use such a term? In other words, how long will it be until they are just an “American”? I mean, if I was apply this politically correct logic, I’d have to use something like “French?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúSpanish?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúGerman?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúDutch?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúEnglish?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúScottish?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúCzech?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúCree?¢‚Ǩ‚ÄúCanadian”. Absurd.

Lastly, why have an award that segregates? Why can the award simply be the “Distinguished Student Award”? As long as the school is going to racially favour students, then so will other students. Make all the students equal.

Don’t get me wrong. I?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢m all for using politically correct terms that help to avoid segregation. It’s just that in this case, it seems to do the opposite.

What a Hassle!

The trip to Vancouver was nice. The children were able to see all of their cousins and enjoyed playing with some of them nearly every one of the twelve days we were there. We also took them on the SkyTrain and the SeaBus and took them on a quick tour of Granville Street downtown and Pacific Centre this past Monday. They really enjoyed it. They installed a second SkyTrain line since we lived there and we went on it to get back home Monday. It?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s hard to believe Brentwood Mall and Lougheed all have SkyTrain Stations now. Surrey Place Mall has been radically changed?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùit doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t even look the same anymore. There?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s a new office tower and the exterior and interior have been completely remodelled. It looks cool, especially when the reflection of the SkyTrain shows in the glass exterior.

The day we arrived was a bit uncomfortable. There were twelve people in the van during our 45 minute ride from the airport to Surrey. It was hot in there and the humidity made it difficult to breathe easily. My parents had their thermostat at 28?Ǭ? that first night, so that didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t help any either. That whole night I felt I was suffocating. I got used to it over the next day and was fine until I came home. The dry weather in Alberta the day we got back gave me a bloody nose. My nose doesn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t like the dry weather.

Anyhow, that wasn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t the hassle referred to in my title. The hassle was the stress of our trip back home. We were supposed to board our WestJet flight at 11:15 PST and arrive at 13:45 MST. At about twenty after eleven, they announced that as a result of the snowstorm (read 2-5 cm of snow) the night before and that was continuing yesterday depleted their de-icer supplies and our flight had been cancelled.

We were then instructed to travel back to the other end of the airport and pick up our ten pieces of luggage. We did this and put them on three baggage carts. Luckily, each cart had a basket where our children could sit, so we didn?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢t have to drag them behind us.

Then the two of us had to take the three carts down a switchback ramp to the arrivals level. That was a real hassle, but luckily a kind woman offered to push one of the carts. Once we arrived at the lower level, our luggage was loaded onto a charter bus. We were then bussed 1.5 hours to the Abbotsford airport where an alternate flight was suppose to leave at 14:00. The bus pulled in at 13:55. Luckily for us, the plane was waiting for a second bus, so we had time to grab something to eat.

We then had to load our ten pieces of luggage from the bus back on to three baggage carts. The Abbotsford carts, unfortunately, did not have baskets in which our children could sit, so the two of us were pushing/pulling three carts and dragging two children. We had to check in all our baggage again and we finally boarded the plane at close to 15:00.

We arrived in Calgary around 17:30 MST, and after we filled our truck up with gas, we were back on the highway home around 18:15.

Originally, we planned to grab some groceries when we arrived in Lethbridge since we had eaten all our perishable food before we left. But since we arrived in Lethbridge at 20:30 and it was New Year?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Eve, none of the supermarkets were open. We ended up spending 35$ on two bags of groceries at Green?¢‚Ǩ‚Ñ¢s Pop Shop.

I was just glad to get home.