Wikipedia Unsure Whether African-American Should Be A A, A-A, A-a

Doug_Harris cats22 at STNY.RR.COM
Mon Oct 20 01:42:43 UTC 2008

In attempting to learn what the oft used but seldom explained term
'robocall' means, I checked Wikipedia. In the article re robocalls,
my eye caught the term African-american. Thinking that odd, I Wiki'd
African-american, and was pointed to the article headed African-American,
with both A's upper-cased.
Then I noticed something else curious: Throughout that article, there
was apparently indiscriminate switching back and forth from the hyphenated
to the unhyphenated version.
But African-american, in the form, didn't appear in that article even
once -- unless I missed it.
Though it has nothing to do with me, and no one particularly cares how I
feel about it, I've always found that term somewhat disturbing, in the
same way I am somewhat disturbed by the need of some people to identify
themselves as, say, Irish-American, or Polish-American, when neither they
nor their parents came from Ireland, or Poland, or whatever.
Colin Powell, in his endorsement of BO today, made a similar point, about
how certain Americans are vilified because they have Arab-sounding names,
or happen to be Moslem, or Sikh, or whatever.
As Rodney King said (as quoted by Wikipedia): "Please, we can get along
Without hyphens, preferably.

The American Dialect Society -

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