capitalization, re-send

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Thu Oct 26 11:09:31 MDT 1995

At 10:02 AM 10/26/95, Louis N Proyect wrote:

>The Chicano activists I used to associate with in Houston in the mid 70's
>said that they despised the word "Hispanic" because it reminded them of
>cop jargon. (A Hispanic suspect was observed breaking and entering
>into....) The question is not so much conceptual as political. When
>oppressed groups decide that a particular word that describes them as a
>group is obnoxious (Negro, Hispanic, etc.), members of the majority
>oppressing group should respect their wishes and use the word that is
>preferable. By accomodating folks over really *paltry* issues like this, it
>allows more important problems to be explored and resolved. (Now, of course,
>the question of whether whites as a whole oppress Blacks and Latinos as a
>whole is an important question, but I suggest we defer this for our next

As for what oppressed groups want to be called, there seems to be no
consensus. A Gallup survey shows neither black nor African-American is
preferred (they didn't inquire about Black or African American). When I was
putting together my State of the USA Atlas I asked lots of people - and
even got made fun of by Alex Cockburn for the query - about what word to
use for Hispanic/Latino/whatever, and got no clear answer.

Americans spend too much time playing language games and not enough
thinking about the social relations underlying language. The naming fetish
is absolutely out of control.



Doug Henwood
Left Business Observer
250 W 85 St
New York NY 10024-3217
+1-212-874-4020 voice
+1-212-874-3137 fax
email: <dhenwood at>
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