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'Oriental' and 'Negro' Will No Longer Appear In US Federal Law

The derogatory terms will be replaced with "Asian American" and "African American."
Posted at 4:41 PM, May 21, 2016

While Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill rarely see eye-to-eye, they did agree on one thing recently: Derogatory terms must be removed from federal law.

Up until Friday, two acts in a section of the U.S. Code that deals with public health and welfare used the terms "Oriental" and "Negro." They were written in the 1970s.

Both the House and Senate unanimously passed a bill that replaces those terms with "Asian American" and "African American."

President Barack Obama signed the bill into law Friday. The law also replaces the terms "American Indian," "Eskimo," "Aleut" and "Spanish speaking individual of Spanish descent," with "Native American," "Alaska Native" and "Hispanic," and adds "Native Hawaiian" and "Pacific Islander."

"Times change. What is acceptable changes," Rep. Grace Meng of New York said on the House floor Feb. 29, 2016.

The bill was introduced by New York Congresswoman Grace Meng. She's removed the term "Oriental" from official documents before.

When Meng was in the New York Legislature in 2009, she sponsored a bill that removed the term from all state documents.

This video includes clips from Rep. Grace Meng and images from Getty Images.