eliminating "oriental" from official documents

In New York, Assemblywoman Grace Meng wants to eliminate the word "Oriental," starting with all state documents. She's penned legislation that would eliminate the use of the term in documents used by state, public and city agencies when talking about people of Asian heritage, and replaced with "Asian": Meng wants 'Oriental' off state documents.

Yes, in case you didn't know, the term is considered derogatory by many Asians. At best, it's a relic, and Meng wants it removed from our official discourse. The bill has gotten the support of a number of local Asian American leaders, who support Meng's efforts.

For some, it's probably a no-brainer. For others, they probably don't even realize that the term is outdated and insensitive. Sorry you didn't get the memo, but let's make it plain and simple: if you still insist on using "Oriental" to refer to Asian people, you're kind of a fool.

I'm not naive enough to believe that removing "Oriental" from official documents is going to make huge strides towards eliminating racism towards Asians. But at the very least, it creates dialogue and debate about the nature of language's role in discrimination, and how it can be used to dehumanize or demean entire groups of people.

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