Southeast Missouri State University

Minority Terminology

  1. Use African-American in most references. Use black only in reference to Black History Month, which is in February. The name of the campus office serving minorities is called the Office of Minority Student Programs.
  2. Native American is the preferred term in reference to American Indians. Where possible, be precise and use the name of the tribe. ie. He is a Navajo commissioner. In news stories about American Indians, such words as wampum, warpath, powwow, tepee, brave, squaw, etc., can be disparaging and offensive. Be careful and certain of their usage.
  3. Hispanic is the preferred term for those whose ethnic origin is in a Spanish-speaking country. Latino is acceptable for Hispanics who prefer that term. Use a more specific identification when possible, such as Cuban, Puerto Rican or Mexican-American or the name of an indigenous group in a Latin American country. Avoid Chicano as a synonym for Mexican-American. Refer to people of Brazilian and Portuguese origin as such, not as Hispanic.
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