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Asian-Americans in US not to be called ‘oriental’

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The word ‘Oriental’ to describe the people of Asian origin will no longer be used in U.S statute books. Before taking off for his Asian tour, President Barack Obama signed a law that removed the word from two places it existed in the country’s laws. The amendments signed by the President also discontinues the use of the ‘n’ word.

The word ‘Oriental’ has derogatory connotations, though it has acquired the abusive tone that the ‘n’ word has. Due to its Eurocentric nature and its association with the period of colonialism and racial segregation, the word evokes unpleasant memories for the people of Asian origin, particularly those from East Asia, in America.

Offensive term

Grace Meng, Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives who came across the existence of the word during her routine legislative research moved the amendments.

“The term ‘Oriental’ has no place in federal law and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good… No longer will any law of the United States refer to Asian-Americans in such an offensive way, ” Ms. Meng, who is of Chinese origin and was elected from Queens in New York, said.

“Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory. But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land,” she added.

Ms. Meng’s legislation was unanimously passed by the House in February and by the Senate in May. All 51 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus had co-signed the bill.

The word existed in the law that established the Department of Energy, and in the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act, both made in the 1970s. The Terms will now be “modernised” in both.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 4:23:27 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/asianamericans-in-us-not-to-be-called-oriental/article8638031.ece

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