Labels, labels, labels

23 May

Hispanic – Reporters use this as a blanket term to refer to people from Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. It’s a term created by the U.S. government, not by these people themselves. However, many of these people don’t identify with this term — it implies a connection with Spain that doesn’t always exist. Some people from these areas speak French or indigenous tongues. When searching for a general term, I would probably use “Latino” to refer to Spanish-speakers. Otherwise, I would ask the person involved what they are comfortable with or what they themselves use.

Socialist – (I’m looking at you, Fox News.) Now, there’s nothing wrong with this term; it refers to a certain set of political and economic beliefs. My problem with using it is its overuse. I’ve seen it applied to people and laws that definitely don’t fit the criteria of being socialist. In these cases, it’s usually being used to imply something negative about that person or law. If the criteria are there, use it. If not, find a more accurate term. (The above applies to the terms “liberal” and “conservative” as well.)

Oh, Glenn, you work that chalkboard!

Extremist – We discussed this one in class the other day, and as I thought about it, I decided it definitely needed to be on this list. The problem with this term is that it’s very subjective. People inside an “extremist” group may not, and probably don’t, consider their actions extreme at all. I say, always be cautious with this term. If it’s widely linked with a group, it’s probably okay to use it. But it could be better to play up a different and more direct label — a religious group, a political group, etc. — and then describe their usual activities, letting people decide for themselves if the group is extremist or not.


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