March 23, 2001


Stevens Mixes Metaphors

The often misguided Councilman George Stevens once again let his emotions take control of his thinking processes when he recently proposed that the City of San Diego discontinue the use of the term "minority" in reference to different ethnic groups. One has to wonder how Mr. Stevens thinks minority is a racist word or term?

Certainly the fact of being a "minority" will not change one iota by whatever term he proposes. Being a minority is a term that infers that in raw numbers, all the various racial and ethnic groups are distinct minorities in comparison to those who comprise the "majority of racial or ethnic groups" in the U.S. The U.S. Census defines who the majority populations are in sheer number (whites-Europeans). That is what the census does... count people! Some are majorities, some are in the minority!

A case in point are those who are listed as Latinos. Although anthropologically they are members of the Caucasoid race i.e. members of the "white" race, they are a minority of the population of this country. They are now 12.5% of the general population. It serves a useful social purpose to accumulate hard facts to track the economic, political, educational, and social progress of the Mexican citizens. They are the largest number within the Latino population (66.01%) in our society. But this doesn't negate the fact that they are still a minority group. They have surpassed African-Americans, which anthropologists categorize as of the Negroid race, in actual numbers. But they are still very much a minority.

Councilman Stevens is off the mark in believing that the term "minority" is negative and disparaging. The label "minority" has been and should continue to be used as a tool to discern whether our society is achieving its oft-staged goal of improving the lot of all its citizens. Those numbers and facts of achievement and growth have been useful tools in our courts of law when used to prove lack of integration into our society of large segments of our population.

Stevens errs in moving to strike the term "minority" from usage in our city. Perhaps Councilman Stevens, who has in the past been heavily involved in the racial struggles of our society, is unable to accept the fact that racial equality in the U.S. is very much a myth. I would suggest that Councilman Stevens use this position to work for equality of all-racial and ethnic groups and fight against the racially discriminating belief systems and practices that exist in this racist Democracy.

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