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American Heritage Dictionary Says “Ahoy!” To Anchor Babies


by Lucas Molandes

Like many, when I first heard the term “anchor baby,” I was offended. I didn’t understand why anyone would try to use a baby as an anchor. Even if you’re riding around in a smaller boat, like a kayak, you need something heavier than a baby to keep it in place, like an adult Rottweiler. Using an adult Rottweiler for an anchor makes more sense, right? The only way an anchor baby seemed reasonable would be if the Rottweiler wasn’t heavy enough to use as an anchor, so you feed the Rottweiler several babies until it could be satisfactorily used as an anchor. But that seems like too much effort.

Then I realized that because I didn’t actually know what an “anchor baby” was, I might be jumping to conclusions. Luckily the term was added to the The American Heritage dictionary this week, so I was able to look it up.

ANCHOR BABY n. Offensive 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.

Say…If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear the term anchor baby was directed firmly at the fastest growing minority population in this country: Latinos. Maybe that’s why so many people in the Latino community find the term offensive. But who could be behind such an ugly term/accusation, and why? Conservatives? No way! Conservatives are generally pro-lifers who believe any baby born, regardless of parentage and ethnicity, is a diaper-filling miracle.

If anything, I would expect conservatives like, say, Sarah Palin would understand just how offensive a term like anchor baby might be. Palin was in her mid 40s when she had her last child. Yes, the idea of that is gross. And yes, clearly the child wasn’t planned. But does that mean we should go around calling her child a mistake baby? How do you think she would feel if she was holding her child and a group of people said, “there goes Sarah and her accident child.”

Sarah knows the pain of people calling her baby something derogatory.

So anchor baby might be an offensive term. But the best way to take power away from those who use it against you is to make it your own and use it against them first. How about this: the next time you’re at a movie theater and someone puts their coat into a chair to show you they’re holding it for someone, tell them to remove their stupid “anchor coat” before you have them deported with your fist. I couldn’t care less about anyone who has an anchor baby, but anyone who ties up a free chair with their coat or purse annoys the ever loving piss out of me.

So stand strong, people. And if you’re reading this, and you are an anchor baby, remember to be proud of who you are. Remember that one day you’ll grow up to much more than that:

An anchor man. Stay classy.

Lucas Molandes is a stand-up comedian that has made appearances at the prestigious Montreal Just for Laughs Festival, Comedy Central’s “Live at Gotham,” and CNN”s “Not Just Another Cable News Show.”

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