While on the New York Times website I ran across an article called Anchor Baby-A Term redefined as a slur, it immediately caught my attention. The article is about the American Heritage Dictionary’s inclusion of the term Anchor baby in there fifth edition published in November.  The dictionary published the definition as

“A child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially such a child born to parents seeking to secure eventual citizenship for themselves and often other members of their family.” 

When Mary Giovagnoli, the director of the immigration Policy Center, a pro-immigration research group in Washington heard the definition, she posted on the companies blog saying the dictionary “masks the poisonous and derogatory nature of the term, a term which demeans both parent and child.” Her post spread immediately and three days later a new definition of “anchor baby” was posted on the dictionary’s Web site. It started with “offensive,” in italics:

 “Used as a disparaging term for a child born to a noncitizen mother in a country that grants automatic citizenship to children born on its soil, especially when the child’s birthplace is thought to have been chosen in order to improve the mother’s or other relatives’ chances of securing eventual citizenship.”  

In a statement Mr. Kleinedler the executive editor of the dictionary, said the dictionary had rectified an error. “The term is now treated similarly to how the dictionary treats a wide range of slurs,” he said.

             I decided to post about this article because to me the term anchor baby is obviously offensive. Some definitions for the word anchor (including the American Heritage dictionary definition) are; “A source of security or stability,” “any of various devices, as a metal tie, for binding one part of a structure to another,” “a person or thing that can be relied on for support, stability, or security.” Add the word baby behind any of these definitions and you have a slur, now think about the nationality of the people who this slur is referring to and you have a racist slur.

            I belive the dictionary publishing this word differently from other slurs shows the racist feelings people have toward immigrants, that we are not concerned with offending them, and that people view immigrants having children in this country as a way to cheat the system, and for the parents benefits only. Not once did the original definition take in to account the hardship that the child could face in their home country. “Anchor baby” was never just a term it has racial, and political notions tied to it, and it is used against a specific people.


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