It is fascinating to me the words and phrases we come up with to be “politically correct.” Those words and terms, I might add, are constantly evolving,

I notice that local author Jim Buford's  characters use the term “colored” to describe African Americans in his latest book, "Water Over the Dam." Buford is not disrespectful of African Americans. Anything but. In fact, he has promoted diversity at Auburn University and elsewhere, even developing race-neutral personnel plans for local governments.  

However, the setting for the book is a fictional town in East Alabama named Tucker’s Mill in the 1950s and ‘60s. In those days, “colored” was a term educated whites and even blacks used out of respect, rather than use the “n” word.

Before the term “African American” came into widespread use, those same respectful people used the word “black” to describe African-Americans. Or, a step up from “colored” was “people of color.”

Interestingly, a prominent black Alabama politician lamented to me 25 or 30 years ago about the use of the term “African American.” He explained that it had taken decades to get the term “black” into widespread usage and he did not want to reverse that.

People can take only so much of this political correctness. In my opinion, Donald Trump’s criticism of “political correctness” helped elect him president. And he certainly has not worried much about it since.

Another president who seemed to care little about political correctness was Harry Truman. They tell a story about the plain-spoken Truman commenting on the “manure” used in a White House garden. Someone supposedly whispered to Bess Truman that her husband, as president, should use the term “fertilizer” rather than manure.

Mrs. Truman supposedly replied something to the effect: “You don’t know how long it has taken me to get him to use the word manure.”

Retired Auburn attorney Don Eddins is publisher of The Auburn Villager and its online publication, auburnvillager.com. Before going into law, he was state Capitol reporter for The Huntsville Times and state editor for The Columbus Ledger. Email him at doneddins@auburnlaw.us. 

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