Federal law language may soon be devoid of outdated racial terms like “Oriental,” thanks to a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

Offensive racial terms would be replaced with others such as “Asian American,” according to a statement from the U.S. Congress. The provision, written by Hawaii Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, was added to the Energy Policy and Modernization Act, which the Senate is debating.

“Clearly the use of derogatory terms to refer to different ethnicities and races doesn’t have any place in federal law,” Hirono said in the statement.

Rep. Grace Meng sponsored similar legislation in December at the U.S. House of Representatives, after successfully moving to strike “Oriental” from all New York state documents as a member of that state’s Legislature in 2009.

“It is way past time for the U.S. government to stop using this offensive and antiquated term and including my legislation in this Senate bill brings us one step closer to making that happen,” Meng said in the statement. “Many who use the word ‘Oriental’ may not mean it in a derogatory manner; but it is an insulting term that should finally be removed from federal law.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono joined Rep. Grace Meng in banning offensive racial terms in law.

Sen. Mazie Hirono joined Rep. Grace Meng in calling for offensive racial terms to be removed from federal laws.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

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