Obama Signs Bill Eliminating Derogatory Terms Like ‘Negro’ And ‘Oriental’ From Federal Laws


President Obama made history yet again today when he signed a bill eliminating derogatory terms such as “negro” and “oriental” from all federal laws.

Although the laws were written in a different time when different terminology was considered “acceptable,” this language no longer has any place in the federal law books of the United States.

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The long overdue bill reads in part:

Section 211(f)(1) of the Department of Energy Organization Act (42 U.S.C. 7141(f)(1)) is amended by striking ‘a Negro, Puerto Rican, American Indian, Eskimo, Oriental, or Aleut or is a Spanish speaking individual of Spanish descent’ and inserting ‘Asian American, Native Hawaiian, a Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, or an Alaska Native.’

The bill was sponsored by Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) and was cosponsored by 76 members of Congress, including all 51 members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. The bill unanimously passed in both the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier this year.

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, issued a statement saying she was “proud to have seen this effort through.”

After months of advocacy in both chambers of Congress, derogatory terms in federal law will finally be updated to reflect our country’s diversity,” she said. “Mahalo to President Obama for his quick action.

Congresswoman Meng issued a statement expressing her relief that “at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good.”

Many Americans may not be aware that the word ‘Oriental’ is derogatory,” she said. “But it is an insulting term that needed to be removed from the books, and I am extremely pleased that my legislation to do that is now the law of the land.

Now that Obama has signed the bill into law the racially dicey language will be removed and replaced with more updated and less offensive terms.


Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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