Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

One superficially trivial yet vitally important feature of American society is the nomenclature used to describe people of different groups. Specifically, a (less clunky) term for Americans of (more recent) African heritage seems to be needed. (According to the scientists if we look back far enough all human beings are of African heritage.)

First of all, to refer to that group of people as “Blacks” or an individual as “a Black” is offensive. It is as bad as any other derogatory term. Such words are offensive because they objectify people. They refer to people as objects, not as human beings.

The term “African American” is problematic because it sets Americans of more recent African heritage apart, making them distinct as a group from those who are simply “Americans.” That term identifies them as ‘other’, i.e. ‘not us’.

I think the solution is to start referring to all citizens of this country with reference to their heritage. So ‘white’ Americans should be referred to as “Americans of European heritage” or “European Americans.”

That puts all of us on an equal footing in our lexicon. That at least is a start.