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?¢‚Ç¨‚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?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄúSpanish?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄúGerman?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄúDutch?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄúEnglish?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄúScottish?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄúCzech?¢‚Ç¨‚ÄúCree?¢‚Ç¨‚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?¢‚Ç¨‚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.