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President Obama Signs Bill Banning the Terms Oriental & Negro

Grace Meng
Rep Grace Meng (D-NY)

By Ed Diokno

Without fanfare, President Obama signed the bill that would ban the use of the word “Oriental” in federal legislation.

“The term ‘Oriental’ has no place in federal law and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good,” the author of the bill, Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), said in a statement.

RELATED: ‘Oriental’ reinforces the Western point of view

President Barack Obama signed H.R. 4238 on May 20, which amends two federal acts from the ’70s that define “minorities” with terms that are now insensitive or outdated.

Two sections in the U.S. Code written in the 1970s governing public health and civil rights attempted to define minority groups by using the outdated terms.


Thanks to the new law, references to the term “Oriental” will be replaced with “Asian American” and the word “Negro” will be changed to “African American.”


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