Rose, who writes the blog Lessons Learned, makes an interesting comment on this site in response to "Crisis PR, Katrina and the Bush Administration." In talking about the people displaced by Hurricane Katrina, Rose took exception to the media using the term "refugee" to describe those who became homeless as a result of the storm.
Rose, who is African-American, writes, "The media need their butts kicked calling our people refugees. [Hurricane victims] are trying to flee their city because of a natural disaster and not because of political or religious persecution."
Rose is not alone. Many critics cite racial insensitivity by news organizations for using the term refugees, especially when many of the Gulf Coast hurricane victims are people of color. The critics cry, "Black people are Americans, too!"
I decided to look up "refugee" in a few dictionaries. This is what I found:
One who flees in search of refuge, as in times of war, political oppression, or religious persecution.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, © 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company
===An individual seeking refuge or asylum; especially : an individual who has left his or her native country and is unwilling or unable to return to it because of persecution or fear of persecution (as because of race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion)
Source: Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law, © 1996 Merriam-Webster, Inc.
An exile who flees for safety
Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University
So much for definitions. According to the Associated Press, President Bush now joins the ranks of those opposed to the word refugees. Some news sources are now using the term evacuees. Let's watch the news lingo in the days ahead as Katrina coverage continues.
Tags: Journalism, Writing, Media, Hurricane Katrina, African American