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October 23, 2014

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letter to the editor:

Quit dwelling on skin color

In Saturday’s letter to the editor, “Identify yourselves as Americans only,” some valid points are raised about race and categorization of our citizens. The practice of referring to black people as African-Americans is wrong on several levels. Africa is a continent. America is a continent when we refer to South or North America, and a nation when we refer to the United States of America. African-American therefore has no connection to skin color. Is a nonblack person who emigrates to the U.S. from Africa and becomes an American citizen considered an African-American?

There are black natives in such places as Haiti, Australia and the Philippines, to name a few countries, who are nowhere near Africa.

Referring to any American as an African-American is presumptuous, and possibly offensive to that person. Black does not mean African and African does not mean black

I am white and my wife, from the Philippines, is somewhat darker skinned than most white people. As a motorcyclist, in the summer I am actually darker than she is. So what is she, and does my classification change when I get a suntan? Her race is Malay, according to the U.S. government on her immigration paperwork.

As an Air Force recruiter in southern Indiana, I was required to identify the race of all applicants. Additionally, I was tasked to recruit black ROTC scholarship applicants in an area that had very few black people. I am a totally non-racist person married to a non-white. I spent over 22 years in a completely diversified Air Force that had absolutely zero-tolerance for racism.

Until we quit dwelling on skin color, racism will always be with us. The letter writer is right; we are all Americans, to include my naturalized wife. If we call her Filipino-American, we have not defined her skin color, but rather her ancestral national roots. Who really cares beyond a government and elements of our society that feel the need to classify everyone?

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