By Madina Toure
The House of Representatives passed a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) last week that removes the term “Oriental” from federal law.
The bill removes all references to “Orientals” in federal law and replaces the term with “Asian Americans.” The legislation, which was approved unanimously Dec. 2 by voice vote, is included in the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act.
“The word ‘Oriental’ is an offensive and derogatory term that should no longer be used by the federal government,” Meng said. “Nobody in our country, regardless of ethnicity, should be referred to in an insulting manner by the government. It’s well past time to strike the legal use of this outdated term. It no longer has a place in federal law, and I look forward to the day when it’s finally gone for good.”
In 2009, Meng—a member of the New York State Legislature at the time—passed legislation into law that eliminated the use of “Oriental” in all official New York state documents.
Reach reporter Madina Toure by e-mail at mtour