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mirandashell
12-20-2011, 12:25 AM
A post on another thread has raised a question for me...

I know the correct American term is People of Colour but due to us Brits having a different history and experience of race relations, I think 'PoC' is a difficult term for us. 'Coloured' has a completely different meaning here. Which is different to other places who have their own history.

So.... as a favour, if I or any of the other non-Americans say black or Asian or any other race, please don't jump on our heads. We're not being un-PC or racist, it's just our terms for these concepts.

I hope I'm not coming across as bossy but I think it's important to lay down ground rules at the start with this kind of thing. Just so we all know where we are.

Is that ok?

And I'd just like to say thank you cos this is the only forum I've been on where any discussion of race has not ended in a flame war.

Amadan
12-20-2011, 12:35 AM
A post on another thread has raised a question for me...

I know the correct American term is People of Colour but due to us Brits having a different history and experience of race relations, I think 'PoC' is a difficult term for us. 'Coloured' has a completely different meaning here. Which is different to other places who have their own history.

So.... as a favour, if I or any of the other non-Americans say black or Asian or any other race, please don't jump on our heads. We're not being un-PC or racist, it's just our terms for these concepts.

I hope I'm not coming across as bossy but I think it's important to lay down ground rules at the start with this kind of thing. Just so we all know where we are.

Is that ok?

And I'd just like to say thank you cos this is the only forum I've been on where any discussion of race has not ended in a flame war.


I don't know of anyone who considers "black" or "Asian" to be offensive.

"Oriental" is right out, though.

missesdash
12-20-2011, 12:40 AM
I really think racial slurs are the only thing that offend everyone. Black and Asian are standard. Even Negro and coloured are fine, if not a tad dated. I don't think you need to worry.

mirandashell
12-20-2011, 12:42 AM
That's good. I was just worried how 'PC' we had to be.

Parametric
12-20-2011, 12:46 AM
I was actually thinking about this earlier. Like you, as a Brit, I wouldn't normally use the term "people of colour" - our equivalent (as far as I've been taught) is "ethnic minorities". But I don't think there's a world of difference, and I'm learning to use the American term.

missesdash
12-20-2011, 12:55 AM
We say "minorities" as well.

But really, if someone says something out of line, I'm sure another person will point it out. You definitely can't preempt every moment where you accidentally say something offensive. But you can be open to apologizing and correcting the problematic behavior.

I don't think anyone here is going to flip out over a misunderstanding.

Mr Flibble
12-20-2011, 01:06 AM
Another thing to consider is when I say Asian for example, I am talking about people from teh Indian sub-continent - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh etc.

Am I right in thinking that wouldn't be the case for an American using the term Asian?

ETA: I don't think oriental has the same connotations over here either. It's more a distinction between South Asians and East Asians, if anything.

Not a great source I know, but this from Urban Dictionary shows the difference....

UK Person: Look at those Oriental people over there.
US Person: You shouldn't call them Oriental. You should call them Asian.
UK Person: But they're Japanese. They aren't Indian. They're Oriental.
US Person: Rugs are Oriental. People are not.
UK Person: YOU are a rug.

missesdash
12-20-2011, 01:19 AM
Yeah oriental is thought of as offensive here because it basically labels them in relationship to ourselves. It means "east." Canadians and Australians say Asian too. We call Indians and the like "south Asian"

alessahinlo
12-20-2011, 01:24 AM
Yeah, terms like blacks and Asians are generally fine. That said, we do further split the "Asian" umbrella term to specify which region of Asia we're referring to -- South Asian vs. East Asian vs. Southeast Asian.

thebloodfiend
12-20-2011, 01:29 AM
Yeah, Oriental is out. It's kind of akin to calling someone exotic. Asian and South Asian are typically the best, though here in NM we call Indians from India east Indians. The Native Americans here are American Indians. And people from around Haiti/Barbados/etc... are West Indians.

Black is fine for me. Colored doesn't really bother me except in a historical context. I've never heard Negro outside of history class. African-American is really, really proper and doesn't really apply to anyone who's black but not American.

backslashbaby
12-20-2011, 02:00 AM
I really think racial slurs are the only thing that offend everyone. Black and Asian are standard. Even Negro and coloured are fine, if not a tad dated. I don't think you need to worry.


This is interesting. I find that IRL I have few problems talking about race, but online, I lose so much context that I don't know how to take things.

I feel like asking if Paris in your location means that you are French. I wonder what your ethnic background is. I do this to put things into context, but I always hear it's rude to ask if someone is Black, etc. It's an interesting dilemma! You sound so straightforward, I'm just going to ask :)

I'd say Negro and Coloured are completely out down here in NC, and in America in general, I believe. 70-year-old folks get a pass a lot for that in the South, but otherwise it's usually a flag for a truly racist person.

My friend at school (in England) from South Africa was explaining the difference between how Black, Coloured and White are used there, though. Apparently, Coloured is a 'real' term there. She is Black and speaks one of those gorgeous native languages by birth (as well as several Western ones by school), for context about her.

Goodness, there is so much to talk about. I'll stop there, but I do have views and things I've been told about Native American, Asian, etc, etc. They are all important.

backslashbaby
12-20-2011, 02:07 AM
Wait. My dad is 70, and there's no way he'd say Coloured or Negro. Let me make that clear. Maybe I should say 90 year olds? It's weird, but every so often you run across 'old folk' in the South who really mean nothing by those terms, and who are just utterly out of touch. Context is crucial.

I'd love to hear Kitty's views on that situation.

I'd definitely say that 'Oriental' can be like that in a mainstream way in the US. I know many kind people who have simply never heard that the term is offensive. That probably says they don't study race relations any, but it does not mean they are racist imho.

missesdash
12-20-2011, 02:21 AM
This is interesting. I find that IRL I have few problems talking about race, but online, I lose so much context that I don't know how to take things.

I feel like asking if Paris in your location means that you are French. I wonder what your ethnic background is. I do this to put things into context, but I always hear it's rude to ask if someone is Black, etc. It's an interesting dilemma! You sound so straightforward, I'm just going to ask :)

I'd say Negro and Coloured are completely out down here in NC, and in America in general, I believe. 70-year-old folks get a pass a lot for that in the South, but otherwise it's usually a flag for a truly racist person.

My friend at school (in England) from South Africa was explaining the difference between how Black, Coloured and White are used there, though. Apparently, Coloured is a 'real' term there. She is Black and speaks one of those gorgeous native languages by birth (as well as several Western ones by school), for context about her.

Goodness, there is so much to talk about. I'll stop there, but I do have views and things I've been told about Native American, Asian, etc, etc. They are all important.

I'm actually American. I've only lived in Paris for two and a half years. I mentioned that "coloured" and "negro" aren't so bad because to my generation and younger, it doesn't sting as much. None of us have seen it posted on a sign above a water fountain. We really only know them both as terms that were one time acceptable (even within the black community) and are now outdated.

But I don't think many people under 25 will assume someone is a racist if they say "colored" or "negro". The latter, though, is used to be very tongue in cheek. I say it when I'm joking with other people. Now you could be right and it's true that only racists use the term, I don't know because I don't ask.

But no flags go up for me when I hear either term. I also don't know any people my age who say "oriental."

Oh and I'm mixed race, but I identify as black :)

backslashbaby
12-20-2011, 02:59 AM
Oh, yeah, tongue-in-cheek between young, non-racist friends seems common enough.

I'm just in my 40's, btw. That probably matters!

Let's see. I think it's fair to say that I'd avoid using those terms in general, non-fiction work meant to appeal to all audiences. So, like a newspaper article. No 'Coloured' or 'Negro' there, you know?

If that's changed with the younger crowd, I'm all ears. I'm very glad to see views on race changing with the generations :)

Mr Flibble
12-20-2011, 04:11 AM
This is interesting. I find that IRL I have few problems talking about race, but online, I lose so much context that I don't know how to take things.



As with all things, it can be very hard to pin down the tone of a post (mine or someone else's) which isn't so hard in a face to face

Which makes you feel like you have to dance a bit more, to get it right, sometimes?

As well as how well you know the other poster etc...

I mean if I make a clumsy comment (or someone else does about something say to do with women/sexism) face to face, it's easy to figure out if it's a comment that just didn;t come out right, someone who means no offence but just is a bit outdated or someone wanting to (or at least not realising they are) out right offending*.

Online, it's a LOT harder to tell, and I feel I must be that just little bit more careful. Which may not be good for frank dicussion perhaps.



*I think IRL, a lot of people (I include myself in this when thinking of sexism etc) people take into account intent. Someone who says something a bit clumsy is very different to someone who goes all out to offend. Online (and in books too) it's more of a fine line, because it's harder to tell intent. However, sometimes you can tell intent....


(And I'm sorry this is about sexism, but that's my relevance if you get me)

It's the difference between a book that has lots of lovely female characters, but they are all passive, 'care for your man types' and a book where all women are shrieking harpies/ballbreakers and must stay at home because that's all they are good for.

One is a rather outdated but at least affectionate take (which I can live with mostly unless it gets really in my face), the other is outright offensive.

Does that make sense?

Does that carry over in any way - ie the offence level? Obviously, that'll depend in large parts on teh person reading. In the same way I know women who get all het up about a casual 'Thanks, love' whereas I get that all the time, and I sue a 'cheers, mate' back (or, thanks to a certain south Londoner, have got into the habit of calling people Babe, which is most embarrassing. I must try to stop)

Jehhillenberg
12-20-2011, 04:32 AM
IMHO, "colored" isn't bad, but that and "negro" is very dated and still rubs black people, particularly, the wrong way here in the South because of the connotations. I just say black. Yeah African-American is the common ground, but I don't really use it myself, unless on a form or standardized test 'cuz it's usually the only option.

I say Asian, and get specific when needed. I've rarely heard "oriental" used here, like at all.

Hm. Generations and ages do factor, don't they?

kuwisdelu
12-20-2011, 04:43 AM
As far as my understanding goes, in addition to the offensive nature of the word, "colored" makes one think only of blacks due to its historical connotations, whereas "people of color" would include me.

Jehhillenberg
12-20-2011, 04:45 AM
^ True.

missesdash
12-20-2011, 04:49 AM
IMHO, "colored" isn't bad, but that and "negro" is very dated and still rubs black people, particularly, the wrong way here in the South because of the connotations. I just say black. Yeah African-American is the common ground, but I don't really use it myself, unless on a form or standardized test 'cuz it's usually the only option.

I say Asian, and get specific when needed. I've rarely heard "oriental" used here, like at all.

Hm. Generations and ages do factor, don't they?


Hm, you know. I should probably point out that it depends on who is saying it. To me, it's not okay for any of my non-black friends to say "nigger." I mean I don't like the term at all, but I won't get too pissed if it's another black person.

Negro and coloured on the other hand, I'd be okay with a non-black person using it if I knew them or if I could tell they were foreign. But yeah, a strange white person calling me a "negro" probably wouldn't end well for either of us haha

alessahinlo
12-20-2011, 04:55 AM
I agree with kuwisdelu on the difference between "colored" and "person of color."


But yeah, a strange white person calling me a "negro" probably wouldn't end well for either of us haha

Yeah, I was thinking about this and I have to say that I don't give it a second thought if a black person says "negro" but if a white person says it, I definitely draw back a little.

And I definitely do not think it's okay for a non-black person to use the n-word. If a black person wants to use it, to reclaim it, that's their choice to do so. But anyone else, no.

Jehhillenberg
12-20-2011, 05:40 AM
Hm, you know. I should probably point out that it depends on who is saying it. To me, it's not okay for any of my non-black friends to say "nigger." I mean I don't like the term at all, but I won't get too pissed if it's another black person.

Negro and coloured on the other hand, I'd be okay with a non-black person using it if I knew them or if I could tell they were foreign. But yeah, a strange white person calling me a "negro" probably wouldn't end well for either of us haha

Haha, I would think so. I'm a little more sensitive and understanding to someone foreign who doesn't know the background and all that, but I'll educate them if around me. :) I don't care for the big N-word either, to the point I refrain from using it. When I think about it, it's just a word and any word could grow into a racial slur if fed power. But it does bother me when it's used at all, even by other blacks. That's just how I was raised.


I agree with kuwisdelu on the difference between "colored" and "person of color."



Yeah, I was thinking about this and I have to say that I don't give it a second thought if a black person says "negro" but if a white person says it, I definitely draw back a little.

And I definitely do not think it's okay for a non-black person to use the n-word. If a black person wants to use it, to reclaim it, that's their choice to do so. But anyone else, no.

Yeah, I understand the reasoning behind why black people use it, to reclaim it, but like I said. I find it offensive when I hear it period, I don't care who says it. I won't lose sleep over it though, I obviously just don't like it. You're right, it's their choice. Negro has less impact to me, than the big N. But it's also Spanish for "black" as in the color.

Alessandra Kelley
12-20-2011, 05:51 AM
this is the only forum I've been on where any discussion of race has not ended in a flame war.

And that is why I love this forum.

escritora
12-20-2011, 08:47 AM
When the talk regarding the formation of this forum began, some were offended by the term people of color. If I recall correctly, a member or two requested the forum have a different name. In the end, it is difficult to please everyone.

missesdash
12-20-2011, 08:49 AM
I think people of color is pretty good, honestly. "minority" doesn't quite fit because we aren't all from the same countries. A Japanese person living in Japan certainly isn't a minority, but they are still a person of color.

Jehhillenberg
12-20-2011, 08:50 AM
Minorities, as in of America ;)

But that's so true.

P-O-C!

escritora
12-20-2011, 09:11 AM
Negro has less impact to me, than the big N. But it's also Spanish for "black" as in the color.

It wasn't until your post that I realized Negro (English) derived from negro (Spanish). The pronunciation of each is so vastly different that the words don't seem related at all.

On a side, negro is also a term of endearment in Spanish.

Medievalist
12-20-2011, 09:33 AM
As far as my understanding goes, in addition to the offensive nature of the word, "colored" makes one think only of blacks due to its historical connotations, whereas "people of color" would include me.

Notice also that in "people of color" the emphasis is on people as the primary attribute.

Priene
12-20-2011, 03:42 PM
On a side, negro is also a term of endearment in Spanish.

There's an interesting case in football right now where a white Uruguayan, Luis Suarez, had an argument (http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/spanish-slang-may-get-suarez-off-the-hook-6261881.html) with a black Frenchman, Patrice Evra, and repeatedly used the word negrito. Suarez has been accused of racism but claims he was using the term in an affectionate way, which apparently is possible in Uruguay.

mirandashell
12-20-2011, 05:39 PM
My initial request was also prompted by the grammatical difficulties involved. 'A person of colour went to the shop.....' It's just a bit awkward. And I'm not comfortable with PoC. 'A Poc went to the shop...'

So my OP was more about explaining why I am more comfortable saying black or Asian or Japanese or African or Guyanan or whatever.....

Just so I don't accidently cause offense.

missesdash
12-20-2011, 06:06 PM
Really the difference is like saying "an apple" instead of "a fruit."

I would be incredibly annoyed if someone switched out every race and instead began to say "a person of color." The phrasing you suggested feels awkward because it is. It's quite silly.

PoC is a blanket term.

Flicka
12-20-2011, 06:31 PM
I'm Swedish and we tend to dance around these things by saying 'he's from Sudan' or 'she looks like she's maybe from Vietnam'. Usually we talk about 'immigrants' when we mean Swedish PoC. But that can be really insulting to someone who considers themselves 100% Swedish, like my sister's friend who happens to be born in Ethiopia but was adopted only a month old. She is really a lot more traditionally Swedish than I. It sort of says that she doesn't fully belong here so I know she hates it when people implies she's somehow Ethiopian rather than Swedish.

It is rather funny, randomly, when the two of them are abroad together. My sister is often mistaken for being from the Middle East (Iranian? is a question she often gets) and the two of them really, really clash with people's perceptions of what Swedes should look like.

escritora
12-20-2011, 10:15 PM
There's an interesting case in football right now where a white Uruguayan, Luis Suarez, had an argument (http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/spanish-slang-may-get-suarez-off-the-hook-6261881.html) with a black Frenchman, Patrice Evra, and repeatedly used the word negrito. Suarez has been accused of racism but claims he was using the term in an affectionate way, which apparently is possible in Uruguay.

Thanks for the link. I read it with interest. I'd like to comment on this quote from the article.


Un hombre negro means "black man". Affixing 'ito' and 'ita' on the end of words is to express that something is smaller.It is true that affixing "ito" and "ita" can express something smaller, but not "smaller" in the sense of downgrading. So if I were to describe a black man as a negrito that is not the same as "boy."

We attach "ito" and "ita" to many words for the use of affection. For example, gorda is fat. If someone gains weight people may say, "gordita." "Ita" is supposed to take the sting out of the word. Now I assume it doesn't because no one likes to be called fat.

----


Sources in France suggested last night that the word Evra says he heard Suarez utter several times in the second half of the game may be negrito, a South American term which is generally affectionate, but sometimes – as in this context – a way of poking fun.I'm working on a short story where the MC is called feita (little ugly one. fea is ugly) by her aunt. Adding the "ita" doesn't make the MC feel better. Who likes to be called ugly?

So yes, adding "ito" and "ita" can be a way of poking fun.

ETA: it's a way of poking fun if one uses a taunting voice. So simply calling someone "negrito" or "feita" isn't enough to demonstrate someone was being made fun of. It's the way the person enunciates the word that matters most. This reminds me of Little House on the Prairie when Nellie calls Laura and Mary "country girls (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XV-o59ffbic)" and Laura is offended.

I can imagine Suarez saying "negrito" in a playful way. Playful as in fun not as in poking fun.

----

I also pulled the following quote from the article. It addresses my thoughts upthread regarding negro in English and in Spanish.


Visitors to South America often find that shocking if they are unaware of the nuance but the Spanish word negro for the colour black is pronounced differently to the offensive "negro" and one has nothing to do with the other.

Morwen Edhelwen
12-27-2011, 03:52 PM
I prefer "person of colour" too.

aruna
12-27-2011, 04:46 PM
Yeah, Oriental is out. It's kind of akin to calling someone exotic. Asian and South Asian are typically the best, though here in NM we call Indians from India east Indians. The Native Americans here are American Indians. And people from around Haiti/Barbados/etc... are West Indians.



In Guyana we always use the word East Indians when speaking of Indians from India; this is to distinguish them from Amerindians, our word for American Indians. And of course, we are all West Indians anyway!:)

Back in the day, we (blacks) were classified according to how much black or white "blood" we had. There were quadroosn and octaroons etc (can't remember if that means a quarter or an eigthe white or black, though) but
then it got impossible to tell, so mixed race people were just called "red". A very normal expression when I was growing up was "coloured middle class". It was good to be "coloured middle class". It was better than being Portuguese or East Indian or Chinese (even if you were dark skinned) because Coloured Middle Class were not from the labouring class; they had a discernible white person in their background which gave them status just below "white".

I myself prefer to be called black if only to eliminate all this differentiating nonsense.

My family (coloured middle class) is really intereting because of the huge variety that went into it. I have some nice photos I might post later on to show just how this eventually turned out. At any rate, if you were "coloured middle class" you tired very very hard to maintain a very high standard of manners, clothing, speech etc to show your status. In those photos, my grandmother etc all trand her sisters look like London Victorian ladies, though tey lived in a really, really hot tropical country.

'


So my OP was more about explaining why I am more comfortable saying black or Asian or Japanese or African or Guyanan or whatever.....

Just so I don't accidently cause offense.

It's Guyanese! ;)

aruna
12-27-2011, 04:58 PM
OK, here goes.
This is my grandmother and her sisters. Grannie is the in the middle.
http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h266/arunadasi/Westmaas%20-%20Cox/022-1.jpg

These are my grandparents. The kid on the left is my dad.
http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h266/arunadasi/Westmaas%20-%20Cox/021-1.jpg

my grandparents' wedding

http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h266/arunadasi/Westmaas%20-%20Cox/023.jpg

"the boys" -- dad on the very left.

http://i66.photobucket.com/albums/h266/arunadasi/guyana/eileen008.jpg

thebloodfiend
12-27-2011, 08:17 PM
That's some great info and pics, aruna. So would you say that Guyanese culture is similar to Haitian culture? Cause that's pretty much the only country in the Caribbean I know about due to studying Toussaint in 8th grade. Or is it more similar to Brazilian? And do you speak Spanish or Portuguese, despite being colonized by the British?

aruna
12-27-2011, 08:44 PM
No; we speak English. We had a British educational, law, political system etc right up until Independence in 1966; then everything changed. And the society is not much like Haiti, as we have a large percentage of East Indians (used to be about 52% -- the largest ethnic group). And Hinduism and Islam are main religions alongside Christianity. So it's pretty much an anamoly in the West Indies. Only Trinidad is similar in ethnic make-up and culture.

Because of its geographical position Guyana was always completely cut off from Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries. Huge tracts of rainforest separate us from Brazil and Venezuela. I believe there is now a road to Brazil, but it's more of a jungle track than a paved road. So the society is basically like a British island in South America, towns, villages and sugar plantations strung along the coastline. Makes me homesick just to talk about it. :(

(I once started an info-thread all about Guyana, a few years agp. I'll see if I can dig it up. I know it's a small unimportant country nobody carse about -- still!)

aruna
12-27-2011, 08:55 PM
Here you go!

Come with me Behind God's Back (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=94901&highlight=Guyana)

thebloodfiend
12-27-2011, 09:03 PM
Thank you!

Kitty27
12-27-2011, 10:35 PM
Thank you for the pics,Aruna! I love to see vintage photos.

missesdash
12-27-2011, 10:46 PM
Oooh really cool pictures!

Opty
12-27-2011, 10:55 PM
"Oriental" is right out, though.
That's a weird American thing, though.

For some odd reason, people in the US who aren't from Japan/China/etc. (and have likely never been there) feel that "Oriental" is somehow offensive. "Asian" is the correct term in their eyes. I even dated a girl of Japanese decent (100% American, though, born and raised) who took offense to it. She used to say, "Rugs are Oriental. I'm Asian!"

However, I have several friends from Taiwan and China (they were born and raised there) and they actually prefer to be called "Oriental."

That's what they call themselves and everyone from that area.

Their reasoning is that "Oriental" refers to "The Orient," which is the geographical area of the world they are from. They don't consider themselves to be "asian" at all.

To them, "Asian" refers to people from India and those nearby countries located deeper in the continent. As a side note, I was friends with two exchange students from India who said they marked "Asian" on any paperwork they filled out because that is where they consider themselves to be from (and they felt that none of the other options fit them). I thought that was pretty interesting and bolstered what my "Oriental" friends had told me.

My Taiwanese friend, Ooh Fang, said that people calling themselves "Asian American" and/or get offended at the term "Oriental" is "very stupid because it makes no sense." Terms like "Japanese-American," "Chinese-American," and "Korean-American" make much more sense to her because they are technically and geographically accurate. When people tell her they're "Asian," she said she immediately thinks of India.

To me it seems like, at worst, it's an example of well-intentioned but misguided people in the US just trying to find something to get offended at and, at best, it's an example of well-intentioned people in the US simply being very ill-informed.

According to everyone I've met who were born and raised in that area of the world, Americans have it totally wrong.

But, whatever. It's not worth me arguing with my well-intentioned American friends over. I try not to offend my "Asian American" friends and don't call them "Oriental," even though I internally roll my eyes at it.

To my friends who are actually from that area of the world, I call them Oriental, because that is what they prefer and what they call themselves.

Overall, it's a curious, albeit interesting, American idiosyncrasy. Of course, that's just been my experiences with it. YMMV.

Amadan
12-27-2011, 11:42 PM
To me it seems like, at worst, it's an example of well-intentioned but misguided people in the US just trying to find something to get offended at and, at best, it's an example of well-intentioned people in the US simply being very ill-informed.

Yes, I'm sure Asian people in the US are all ill-informed about what "Oriental" means.

It's not like words might actually mean different things in different cultural contexts, or the way a word has historically been used might be different in the US than in your country.

escritora
12-27-2011, 11:48 PM
To me it seems like, at worst, it's an example of well-intentioned but misguided people in the US just trying to find something to get offended at and, at best, it's an example of well-intentioned people in the US simply being very ill-informed.


"Well-intentioned" people who are "trying to find something to get offended at" don't seem well-intentioned at all.

thebloodfiend
12-27-2011, 11:53 PM
Yes, I'm sure Asian people in the US are all ill-informed about what "Oriental" means.

It's not like words might actually mean different things in different cultural contexts, or the way a word has historically been used might be different in the US than in your country.

Ditto.

The same goes for Negro, Colored, Indian, etc...

missesdash
12-28-2011, 12:08 AM
That's a weird American thing, though.

For some odd reason, people in the US who aren't from Japan/China/etc. (and have likely never been there) feel that "Oriental" is somehow offensive. "Asian" is the correct term in their eyes. I even dated a girl of Japanese decent (100% American, though, born and raised) who took offense to it. She used to say, "Rugs are Oriental. I'm Asian!"

However, I have several friends from Taiwan and China (they were born and raised there) and they actually prefer to be called "Oriental."



Are you saying they call themselves "oriental" in their own language? Or are you saying americans, who speak english as a native tongue, are incorrect on which english term to use?

I'm at a loss for how the area is "the orient" to anyone but antiquated western people. "Orient" is an english term.

Mr Flibble
12-28-2011, 12:19 AM
A

I'm at a loss for how the area is "the orient" to anyone but antiquated western people. "Orient" is an english term.
yees, and Oriental is the term that Oriental people speaking English in England use to identify themselves.


It seems a bit silly to me to get offended by the term Oriental (No different from calling someone a Westerner) but obviously there are cultural differences between the US and the UK, and this is one - and the purpose of this thread. Now that I know the word is an isuue (much as the watermelon thing that someone had to explain to me a while ago) I wouldn't use it about an American Chinese person for instance, because they've decided it is offensive to them, and hey, who am I to say what they should find offensive. That doesn't stop it being a valid, non-offensive expression here though.

ETA: I suppose it's a little like the word 'fag'. Derogatory term in the US, perfectly acceptable word in the UK.

Amadan
12-28-2011, 12:27 AM
I wouldn't use it about an American Chinese person for instance, because they've decided it is offensive to them, and hey, who am I to say what they should find offensive. That doesn't stop it being a valid, non-offensive expression here though.


I don't think anyone is saying that everyone else should use American political correctness as a guide to what is and is not offensive in their own country. But conversely, it's more than a little insulting to imply that those silly Americans just don't know what words mean and go looking for reasons to be offended.

Obviously, way back when, "Oriental" was a simply a geographical descriptor, and that usage persists in much of the English-speaking world. But in the U.S., it has a lot of cultural baggage, being traditionally used as synonymous for "alien/foreign/exotic/inscrutable/Other." Calling a Chinese-American (whose family may have been here for generations) an "Oriental" isn't a value-neutral reference to his ancestors' homeland, it's way of differentiating him from, you know, real Americans.

missesdash
12-28-2011, 12:35 AM
yees, and Oriental is the term that Oriental people speaking English in England use to identify themselves.


It seems a bit silly to me to get offended by the term Oriental (No different from calling someone a Westerner) but obviously there are cultural differences between the US and the UK, and this is one - and the purpose of this thread. Now that I know the word is an isuue (much as the watermelon thing that someone had to explain to me a while ago) I wouldn't use it about an American Chinese person for instance, because they've decided it is offensive to them, and hey, who am I to say what they should find offensive. That doesn't stop it being a valid, non-offensive expression here though.

ETA: I suppose it's a little like the word 'fag'. Derogatory term in the US, perfectly acceptable word in the UK.

I was actually replying to the claim that "oriental people call themselves oriental." In English they use whatever term was used by the western people from who they gain their English. I had a feeling the other poster was trying to validate it by saying his 100% Asian friends call themselves oriental as if it's somehow an "original" term.

It is a distinctly western term, so American asians who find it offensive are no less or more valid than British Asians who prefer it.

Mr Flibble
12-28-2011, 12:36 AM
I don't think anyone is saying that everyone else should use American political correctness as a guide to what is and is not offensive in their own country. But conversely, it's more than a little insulting to imply that those silly Americans just don't know what words mean and go looking for reasons to be offended.

Oh yeah, I get that. However there can be a tendency for 'Well, obviously it's offensive' (or that's how some posts come across), which, uh, it isn't unless you're from the US (or any other place where it's an issue). The 'obviously' tone can be a little insulting at times too. What's 'obvious' to you perhaps, isn't to me because we're operating in different cultural perspectives. Which, um, was the point of the thread I believe.


in the U.S., it has a lot of cultural baggage, being traditionally used as synonymous for "alien/foreign/exotic/inscrutable/Other." Calling a Chinese-American (whose family may have been here for generations) an "Oriental" isn't a value-neutral reference to his ancestors' homeland, it's way of differentiating him from, you know, real Americans.Hmm, I'm not sure how me saying someone is Oriental is me saying they are less British (It's sure as wassname not what I intend), any more than calling me a Norman descendant is - we're a nation of immigrants if you boil it right down, and have been for more centuries than I care to admit - but I suppose it could happen that is what someone, or many people mean by it.* But most of the Asians (Oriental or otherwise) I know are proud of their heritage, even if they were born in Walton-on-Thames. And if a name is good enough for them....


*I think that's again, a consequence of your civil rights thingy, a hangover from that time we just don't have, or not in anything like the same way.

ETA: corss post!


It is a distinctly western term, so American asians who find it offensive are no less or more valid than British Asians who prefer it. I didn't say they were - everyone gets to decide what they find offensive - but vice versa also.

Also, regarding Oriental being an English word, when you come to think of it, Chinese is also an English word. Why isn't that one offensive? *ponders*

Kitty Pryde
12-28-2011, 01:08 AM
Yeah, I think the moral of this thread is not "some people are incorrect in taking offense at certain terms" but rather "words mean different things to different people, and we're writers, so let's think about the different meanings".

*inserts humorous joke about fannies, to lighten the mood*

For the record, thanks Mr. Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oriental#Current_usage). In America, the word "oriental" is outdated and potentially offensive. In the UK, fine. In Australia, old-fashioned and outdated. In Canada, offensive. Our different histories create different connotations for the word.:


American English

While a small number of reference works used in the United States describe Oriental as pejorative, or antiquated but not necessarily offensive, the American Heritage Book of English Usage notes that:
It is worth remembering, though, that Oriental is not an ethnic slur to be avoided in all situations. It is most objectionable in contemporary contexts and when used as a noun, as in the appointment of an Oriental to head the commission. But in certain historical contexts, or when its exotic connotations are integral to the topic, Oriental remains a useful term. Random House's Guide to Sensitive Language states "Other words (e.g., Oriental, colored) are outdated or inaccurate." This Guide to Sensitive Language suggests the use of "Asian or more specific designation such as Pacific Islander, Chinese American, [or] Korean". Merriam-Webster describes the term as "sometimes offensive."
British English

In British English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_English), the term Oriental is not considered pejorative or offensive, and refers to people from East and Southeast Asia. Asian is generally used only to mean people from South Asia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_Asia). This usage reflects historic immigration into the UK, since more than 50% of the non-European population is British Asian (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Asian), whereas East and Southeast Asians comprise only 5-6% of the non-European population. Of those, the majority are of Chinese descent.
Australian English

In Australian English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_English), the term "Asian" generally refers to people of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese ethnicity. Australians generally refer to people of Korean, Japanese, or Chinese descent as Asian, and persons of Indian, Pakistani or Sri Lankan descent by their respective demonym (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demonym) but without explicit knowledge, are inconfidently inferred as Indian.
The word Oriental, in place of Asian, is seldom used in colloquial conversation in Australia and is understood, but considered anachronistic rather than offensive, similar to Grecian in place of Greek.
Canadian English

In Canadian English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_English), as with Australian English (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_English), "Asian" most often refers to people of eastern or southeastern Asian descent. It can be expanded, however, such as when referring to colonial times, to include south Asian countries such as India and Sri Lanka, as is common usage by South Asians themselves. In modern Canadian usage, according to the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, the term "Oriental" is considered offensive when applied to a person of East Asian ancestry.

Mr Flibble
12-28-2011, 01:16 AM
"words mean different things to different people, and we're writers, so let's think about the different meanings".

It's really interesting to work out why something is offensive somewhere else, but not where you are. The why tells you a lot about a culture, I think. Britain has some fairly humorous historical derogatory terms...


*inserts humorous joke about fannies, to lighten the mood*


Want me to roll a fag for you? :D

Kitty Pryde
12-28-2011, 01:33 AM
While on vacation, I spotted the window of a butcher shop in the Midlands proudly advertising "Faggots For Sale: Friday and Saturday Only", and it made me inappropriately giggly. Stern admonishments of "It's only meatballs!" did not help.

missesdash
12-28-2011, 02:07 AM
@idiots I know you didn't say it was more or less valid. But the other poster, the one we were replying to, implied that.

And in case anyone wanted to know why it's pejorative in the US, it's not because it's an English word. There are two reasons: 1. It's an outdated term that was prevalent during colonialism. In this way, it's the same as "Negro" and "colored" for some people. It's what we were called when we were considered "less" in the grand scheme. In the US we have a habit of dumping terms because of the history associated with it.

2. The term "oriental" is western-centric because it describes the "orientation" of Asia in relation to Europe (east). It's like naming one son "John" and naming his younger brother "Second Son." The term relies on a western-centric world view in order to correctly describe the area.

dolores haze
12-28-2011, 02:14 AM
Want me to roll a fag for you? :D

Which reminds me of my very first week in the States, when I managed to reduce the staff and customers of a convenience store to hysterics by my repeated attempts to purchase "a pack of fags - not too strong."

Mr Flibble
12-28-2011, 02:21 AM
@idiots I know you didn't say it was more or less valid. But the other poster, the one we were replying to, implied that.

I get ya.

In the US we have a habit of dumping terms because of the history associated with it.
We tend to see things differently. If we dumped terms because of history we'd have no language left!

2. The term "oriental" is western-centric because it describes the "orientation" of Asia in relation to Europe (east). It's like naming one son "John" and naming his younger brother "Second Son." The term relies on a western-centric world view in order to correctly describe the area.See, now to me that seems a bit silly because there's plenty of Northerners/Southerners/Westerners - describing someone as relative to where I am, which historically goes back a long way - without it being an offensive term. Although I can see why some people might want to forget all about colonialism etc. It just....like I said earlier, I think because of the whole race thing in the US, segregation, the Civil Rights Movement etc, which just didn't happen here, then there's a whole different mindset to it - I do wonder how it'll turn out in say twenty years in South Africa.

Anyway, it gives your culture a whole different perspective to this than ours. I dare say some of our linguistic customs seem silly to you too. But vive la difference. OMG, I said something French! *dies of shame* j/k j/k

missesdash
12-28-2011, 02:35 AM
I do agree that it's somewhat of an American privilege to be so picky about usage. Our history, as sordid as it is, doesn't go back nearly as far as yours. So we only have to look back two hundred years and go "Hmm...no, don't like it. Change it." And then because there aren't thousands of years of history, no one really objects.

I don't mind it, though, because people are less hesitant to demand they are referred to a certain way. I remember when I learned some Latinos are offended by the term "Hispanic" because not all of them hail from Spain. I didn't question it, I just switched. Some people think it's silly, obviously. But in the end I'd rather be seen as silly than insulting. In these matters at least.

missesdash
12-28-2011, 02:36 AM
Which reminds me of my very first week in the States, when I managed to reduce the staff and customers of a convenience store to hysterics by my repeated attempts to purchase "a pack of fags - not too strong."

Okay this is hilarious. I just posted it as a quote on my tumblr :D

Mr Flibble
12-28-2011, 02:42 AM
Some people think it's silly, obviously. But in the end I'd rather be seen as silly than insulting. In these matters at least. Oh so would I - as I said, now that I know, I wouldn't dream of calling an Asian American Oriental. I don;t get to pick what other people find offensive.


Okay this is hilarious. I just posted it as a quote on my tumblr :D

There's a thread in TIO where I talked about freaking a guy on teamspeak talking about rolling a fag and someone else said they (I think) went to NY and asked to 'bum a fag*' off someone.

*Scrounge a ciggie.

thebloodfiend
12-28-2011, 02:45 AM
Which reminds me of my very first week in the States, when I managed to reduce the staff and customers of a convenience store to hysterics by my repeated attempts to purchase "a pack of fags - not too strong."

Just imagine how fun it is for Americans to watch Australian/British television.

Mr Flibble
12-28-2011, 02:47 AM
Just imagine how fun it is for Americans to watch Australian/British television.

And vice versa - actually I recommend you try to find an episode of Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy and Rodders go to Miami. IIRC it spoofs a lot of these kind of things very well.

Also reminds me of one of my fave anecdotes.

The filming of Cleopatra, the Burton/Taylor one. The American director tells Burton to 'Grab her fanny'. He does what he thinks he's been told....

Rufus Coppertop
12-28-2011, 04:24 AM
There's a thread in TIO where I talked about freaking a guy on teamspeak talking about rolling a fag and someone else said they (I think) went to NY and asked to 'bum a fag*' off someone.

*Scrounge a ciggie.

In Australia there's "pinch a fag" too, although these days, you probably won't hear it from someone under seventy.

Kitty27
12-28-2011, 09:42 AM
This reminds me of my coworker. She's from Bristol and she asked for a"fag" from another coworker. I stared at her in complete horror while she went on about how she was feening for a "fag",etc.
What made it even more crazy was that our coworker is gay. Luckily,he knew what the term meant and didn't mind at all. I didn't know and was all set to give her a girl who likes boys who love boys verbal spanking. He explained and I understood.

British humor is quite different. I don't get ANY of it.

missesdash
12-28-2011, 09:58 AM
This reminds me of my coworker. She's from Bristol and she asked for a"fag" from another coworker. I stared at her in complete horror while she went on about how she was feening for a "fag",etc.
What made it even more crazy was that our coworker is gay. Luckily,he knew what the term meant and didn't mind at all. I didn't know and was all set to give her a girl who likes boys who love boys verbal spanking. He explained and I understood.

British humor is quite different. I don't get ANY of it.

You think British humor is odd, try French humor! I've yet to see a comedian without a song and dance routine. o_O

crunchyblanket
12-28-2011, 02:50 PM
It's similar, in some respects, to the terms 'pikey' and 'gypsy', which are both applied freely in the UK, and both met with varied reactions depending on who you're talking to. A Rom referred to as a 'pikey' would pitch a fit (largely because 'pikey' is a derogative term used by Roma to describe a Rom expelled from his/her community) whereas the majority of Travellers simply shrug their shoulders at it. Similarly, some Roma communities get up in arms about 'gypsy', whereas others aren't bothered by it. It's hard to determine who's going to take offence. You can't tell just by looking, and there's no definitive right or wrong (my own family refer to themselves as 'pikeys', despite being Roma)

Reminds me of the time I was speaking to my Vietnamese friend, not long after I'd discovered that 'oriental' was offensive in the US. I referred to her as 'Asian'. She wasn't best pleased - she explained that it was a bit like being referred to as 'European' instead of 'British' or 'English', which I get. Of course, that's just her perspective, and in recent years I've noticed more white people here use 'Asian' instead of 'Oriental'.

Snitchcat
12-29-2011, 07:03 PM
'Asian' and 'Oriental' are meaningless blanket terms, IMO, same as 'Occidental'. In fact, just sifting through the terms used in my daily interactions with people here, 'Oriental' and the blanket lone 'Asian' don't appear.

But, throwing the following out there for consideration:

In China, the specific terms we use differentiate between all the nationalities in the APAC region: Chinese (all ethnicities), Japanese, Filippino, Korean, Taiwanese, Inner Mongolians, Malaysians, Singaporeans, Russians, Australians and so on.

Blanket geographical terms include: Asia Pacific nationalities, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern Europeans, Europeans (Western), English, Americans, Ameri-Euro (aka, Americans and Europeans (including the British)), etc.

As far as nationalities are concerned, the terms run thus: Whites, Blacks, Chinese, Yellow-skinned (not deragotary since yellow represents gold, and gold is an Imperial colour), Asia Pacific nationalities, Natives, Foreigners, Non-nationals, Middle Eastern, and others.

(Btw, you might consider 'Tourists' a race -- they seem to all behave in a very similar manner, regardless of which nationality they are.)

Obviously, you have the slang, but the actual names differ across regions and cultures.

Personally, 'Oriental' bothers me because of its historical connotations. But 'Asian', to mean Chinese, really gets on my nerves: the continent contains over 47 different nationalities; surely they're not all Chinese? :tongue

In addition, I find 'Asian' insulting for reasons I can't fully explain, because those reasons are feelings. I guess my take on it is simply that 'Asian' is equivalent to calling all black people 'African American', and is a distinct lack of respect, almost as if the user of the term couldn't be bothered to do any rudimentary research regarding the continents and countries. (Really, everyone not the stereotypical Westerner is either 'Asian' or 'African American'? :tongue Hmm, I should write a fantasy spoof about these terms! Hehehe. :) )

While I was in England, secondary school classmates were actually quite careful to avoid calling everyone English, unless said person identified themselves as such. For instance, Scottish classmates were 'Scottish'; Vietnamese, the same, etc. (Although, the racism ran deep.) At university, no one cared for your nationality -- it was just, study, be friendly, be genuine, and be fun to hang with. And back to your regularly scheduled thread.

Sorry about the derail.

crunchyblanket
12-29-2011, 07:41 PM
While I was in England, secondary school classmates were actually quite careful to avoid calling everyone English, unless said person identified themselves as such. For instance, Scottish classmates were 'Scottish'; Vietnamese, the same, etc


It was similar when I was at school. We usually found out a person's nationality and went with that. So while 'Oriental' was used, it was more common to hear 'Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese' etc. Same with 'African' - we'd say 'Nigerian, Ugandan, Ghanaian'. Actually, come to think about it, only 'Asian' (meaning Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan etc) was regularly used to describe people.

Mr Flibble
12-29-2011, 07:50 PM
It was similar when I was at school. We usually found out a person's nationality and went with that. So while 'Oriental' was used, it was more common to hear 'Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese' etc. Same with 'African' - we'd say 'Nigerian, Ugandan, Ghanaian'. Actually, come to think about it, only 'Asian' (meaning Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan etc) was regularly used to describe people.


Ditto - though most people I know would only use the term Asian when either refering to a community/whatever where all those nationalities are mixed, or if you don't know the nationality (in the same way you might, say, have a European Social Club, or say I was European if you didn't know I was specifically English).

missesdash
12-29-2011, 08:03 PM
I've heard so many French people use Chinois (Chinese) when they mean "Asian." I had to explain to Mr. Dash (lol what, that's not our name, but anyway) that it's offensive. He still doesn't seem to "get it" but he stopped using it, regardless.

kuwisdelu
12-29-2011, 09:52 PM
I don't really understand why the generic terms like Asian, European, British, etc, are offensive when we might not always know specifically what someone is yet. Once you do know, I get that, but sometimes you need those generic terms.

I'm native American, and it's important to me that people recognize we're not a homogenous group, too, but many different and independent tribes, yet I certainly can't recognize what tribe most Indians come from without asking. So I'm Zuni, yes, but I'm also an Indian, because lots of times it's just simpler that way.

And I know there's no "British" accent, either, but I've never been there — I can't tell them all apart, so how else am I supposed to describe it if I don't know?

Or am I missing something and this conversation is only concerning situations where exactly nationality is absolutely known?

Mr Flibble
12-29-2011, 10:18 PM
I don't really understand why the generic terms like Asian, European, British, etc, are offensive when we might not always know specifically what someone is yet. Once you do know, I get that, but sometimes you need those generic terms.



I'm not sure why either, but I thought maybe that was my ignorance showing. :D

Kitty Pryde
12-29-2011, 10:50 PM
My friend James has one of those What The Heck Kind Of Accent Is That? accents. He has a Scottish parent and a Swiss parent and grew up half in Scotland and half in Switzerland. He identifies as European. He would rather refer to himself as "Eurotrash" than go into the whole story of his background and upbringing.

In college, freshman year I lived in the "Asian-American theme dorm (http://www.stanford.edu/group/themed/ethnicandfocus/okada.html#house_description)". (I am not Asian-American). The dorm was 50% Asian-American and 50% not. Kind of off-topic, but it was super fun living there. There is also a Chicano/Latino theme dorm, a "indigenous peoples" theme dorm, and an African/African-American theme dorm. I don't think anything about these residences implied that all people grouped under that title were alike, merely that some aspects of their experience were similar, or that scholarly analysis of their various cultures were similar.

missesdash
12-29-2011, 11:21 PM
I don't really understand why the generic terms like Asian, European, British, etc, are offensive when we might not always know specifically what someone is yet. Once you do know, I get that, but sometimes you need those generic terms.

I'm native American, and it's important to me that people recognize we're not a homogenous group, too, but many different and independent tribes, yet I certainly can't recognize what tribe most Indians come from without asking. So I'm Zuni, yes, but I'm also an Indian, because lots of times it's just simpler that way.

And I know there's no "British" accent, either, but I've never been there I can't tell them all apart, so how else am I supposed to describe it if I don't know?

Or am I missing something and this conversation is only concerning situations where exactly nationality is absolutely known?

I'm pretty sure everyone meant when the nationality is known. I think we can all agree it would be worse to identify incorrectly than to use an umbrella term.

But, to the other poster, I don't think "Asian" and "African American" can be compared. Very few African Americans can be any more specific. it's an umbrella term out of necessity.

kuwisdelu
12-29-2011, 11:35 PM
I'm pretty sure everyone meant when the nationality is known. I think we can all agree it would be worse to identify incorrectly than to use an umbrella term.

Ah, okay. I missed that part, since I sometimes see people get upset over it even in the case where the original poster could not have known more specifically (okay, I'm mostly thinking the "British accent" thing).


But, to the other poster, I don't think "Asian" and "African American" can be compared. Very few African Americans can be any more specific. it's an umbrella term out of necessity.

I assumed it was meant when it's, say, a black person from Russia. That's not an African American. If that's not what was meant, then I agree.

missesdash
12-29-2011, 11:39 PM
Lol it borders on idiotic when someone calls every black person in the world "African American."

But I've heard it done. Usually the person is flustered and trying not to offend the Negro...uh...colored...um..bla-frican American person.

crunchyblanket
12-30-2011, 12:33 AM
Actually, I do wonder. Is it out-and-out offensive to call someone 'black' in the US, or is 'African American' just preferred? (pardon my ignorance)

thebloodfiend
12-30-2011, 12:38 AM
Actually, I do wonder. Is it out-and-out offensive to call someone 'black' in the US, or is 'African American' just preferred? (pardon my ignorance)

I prefer black. African-American just sounds... I dunno, weird to me. Some black people who live in the US aren't even American. They're from Jamaica, Haiti, Trinidad, etc...

Well, technically, anyone who lives in North or South America is American, but you get my drift.

missesdash
12-30-2011, 01:02 AM
Neither is offensive. But people have different preferences. I call myself black, but I don't care if someone else says African American because I'm both.

Afro-Carribean Americans, however, tend to get extra pissy about it. I've heard a lot of them complain about the term. It's pretty easy for me to distinguish between the different groups. But for an outsider, it could be harder.

That being said, they won't flip out on you if you use it before you're aware of their ancestry. But they might correct you. And then they'll go home later and complain on their blog.

Alan Yee
12-30-2011, 03:45 AM
One of my high school friends doesn't use the term "African American" to describe herself, despite being clearly black, because the farthest back her family can trace their ancestors is to Jamaica. Unless someone expresses a preference for "African American," I usually go with "black," depending on the situation. I'm another person who gets annoyed when people refer to non-American black people as "African American." I would guess that most "African Americans" (specifically those descended from freed slaves) also have no cultural ties to Africa.

As far as "Asian" goes... if you don't know the Asian person's nationality or ethnic background, I'd rather you say "Asian" than automatically assume that every person who looks like they could be of East Asian descent is Japanese or Chinese. I'm half Chinese and half white (no more specific, since there are several Western European ethnicities in my mom's family background), but I was born here in the U.S., so even I can't always visually distinguish between Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, etc.

missesdash
12-30-2011, 04:10 AM
I would guess that most "African Americans" (specifically those descended from freed slaves) also have no cultural ties to Africa.

I'm not sure what you mean by "cultural ties" but west african culture can be seen all throughout African American culture. It's influenced everything from our music and dance style to the way we practice religion. Whether or not someone is aware of that culture is another issue entirely. But it's very very present.

But the same goes for a lot of american ethnic groups. The culture is still there, but it's evolved into something very distinct.

Alan Yee
12-30-2011, 04:37 AM
Whether or not someone is aware of that culture is another issue entirely. But it's very very present.

But the same goes for a lot of american ethnic groups. The culture is still there, but it's evolved into something very distinct.


You're correct. I should have thought about that longer before I hit the "post" button. There are West African influences in a lot of aspects of African American culture. I guess I meant that many American black people aren't consciously aware of certain cultural aspects being distinctly African, as opposed to the Chinese members of my family having certain values and traditions that are easily recognizable as Chinese. But I think that might be more a matter of my dad's relatives being first- and second-generation Chinese-American immigrants. It would make sense that the more generations you get away from the immigrant ancestors' culture, the more that the original ethnic culture combines the local culture to make a hybrid culture. There are also sub-groups within the larger ethnic group based on socioeconomic status and a number of other factors that can make the culture manifest in different ways.

Snitchcat
12-30-2011, 05:31 AM
Ah, okay. I missed that part, since I sometimes see people get upset over it even in the case where the original poster could not have known more specifically (okay, I'm mostly thinking the "British accent" thing).

It's insulting for me when the nationality is known and the user insusts on using the blanket term. IMO, such continued usage is disrespectful. However, while I despise the term, I can appreciate it's necessity. Perhaps I make a more conscious effort to ascertain someone's nationality or ethnicity so I can avoid the generalisations.


I assumed it was meant when it's, say, a black person from Russia. That's not an African American. If that's not what was meant, then I agree.Yes, I meant that when a black person is from, say, Russia or China, then barring any clarification of nationality or ethnicity, I think it's silly to refer to all of them as African American.

On the other hand, I've noticed for this part of the world, we naturally avoid generic terms unless absolutely necessary. Also, maybe because I'm always encountering the international side of society, but the lack of national or ethnic labelling, if you will, is the norm. Not that we don't care, but more, we don't have a true practical need for such practice.

Btw, I love this thread! Just thought I'd throw that out there. :)

kuwisdelu
12-30-2011, 05:53 AM
Perhaps I make a more conscious effort to ascertain someone's nationality or ethnicity so I can avoid the generalisations.

*shrug*

If I know it, I'll use it. If I don't, and I can ask, I'll ask. If I don't, and can't ask, I'll just use something generic.

Mr Flibble
12-30-2011, 05:54 AM
Ah, okay. I missed that part, since I sometimes see people get upset over it even in the case where the original poster could not have known more specifically (okay, I'm mostly thinking the "British accent" thing).



You may get a crick in the neck if you say someone has an 'English' accent when actually they are Scottish....

Thing is, these days pretty much the only people who call themselves British are the English. The rest go by Scottish, Welsh, Irish. It's a big thing for them. But if the accent is trouble, then at least say you're not sure and say British.

Do NOT, under any circumstances (and I have seen this happen, and it was not pretty) ask someone who says they are Scottish what part of England that is.

Amadan
12-30-2011, 06:01 AM
Perhaps I make a more conscious effort to ascertain someone's nationality or ethnicity so I can avoid the generalisations.


How do you do that, exactly -- if you don't know their name or hear them speak or have any other indicators of exactly which nationality/ethnicity they belong to?



Yes, I meant that when a black person is from, say, Russia or China, then barring any clarification of nationality our ethnicity, I think it's silly to refer to all of them as African American.

Generally, we don't use "African-American" for non-Americans of African descent. I mean, yes, sometimes an American used to using it as a generic word for "black person" will do so out of habit, until he realizes that this particular African-American isn't American. We certainly don't refer to "Those African-Americans who live in Kenya."

kuwisdelu
12-30-2011, 06:17 AM
You may get a crick in the neck if you say someone has an 'English' accent when actually they are Scottish....

Thing is, these days pretty much the only people who call themselves British are the English. The rest go by Scottish, Welsh, Irish. It's a big thing for them. But if the accent is trouble, then at least say you're not sure and say British.

Do NOT, under any circumstances (and I have seen this happen, and it was not pretty) ask someone who says they are Scottish what part of England that is.

I don't do the England thing, but is UK or British suitably generic? Which would be better? I know they're different.

I also say "Eastern European" accent when I'm not sure which Easter European country someone is.

What if it's an amalgam?

I'm just sayin' sometimes we need to use the generic terms. As a "Native American," I understand the frustration behind it, but I also see why it's often much more convenient or necessary.

Snitchcat
12-30-2011, 08:02 AM
How do you do that, exactly -- if you don't know their name or hear them speak or have any other indicators of exactly which nationality/ethnicity they belong to?

Simply by asking them where they're from (that's if I truly need to know), else it's more, "how would you like to be addressed?"


Generally, we don't use "African-American" for non-Americans of African descent. I mean, yes, sometimes an American used to using it as a generic word for "black person" will do so out of habit, until he realizes that this particular African-American isn't American. We certainly don't refer to "Those African-Americans who live in Kenya."

Ah, okay. Understood.

I was also approaching this from this region's POV, aka, China. We don't actually use "African American"; to us, the nationality / ethnicity is "African" or "person of Africa" (regardless of colour), or, simply "Blacks", or just a reference to that person's nationality if known.

Snitchcat
12-30-2011, 08:04 AM
I don't do the England thing, but is UK or British suitably generic? Which would be better? I know they're different.

Depends on context. If you say "from the UK" it's less likely to offend; if you say "British", I doubt anyone will blink.

Oh, just a note: Chinese-British / British-Chinese, BBC, whatever, here, so I sit between both cultures and know both. Hehehe. :)

Amadan
12-30-2011, 08:12 AM
Simply by asking them where they're from (that's if I truly need to know), else it's more, "how would you like to be addressed?"

See, this is another cultural thing. In China, that may be perfectly appropriate.

But in the US, there isn't really a polite way to ask an Asian person (especially if they are Asian-American) "Where are you from?" or "What should I call you?" (The implication is often insulting, especially for U.S. citizens.)

Also, while of course Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and other cultural groups are distinct and each have their own communities, politically Asian-Americans do tend to identify that way because as a group they face largely similar issues in the U.S.

missesdash
12-30-2011, 08:37 AM
See, this is another cultural thing. In China, that may be perfectly appropriate.

But in the US, there isn't really a polite way to ask an Asian person (especially if they are Asian-American) "Where are you from?" or "What should I call you?" (The implication is often insulting, especially for U.S. citizens.)


I was thinking the same. Asking about someone else's ethnicity or race is generally rude. I've had people ask "what are you." I just walk away.

backslashbaby
12-30-2011, 12:11 PM
Especially since most of them are as American as you are!

We talk about African-Americans, imho, because we have need sometimes to talk about our folks of African ancestry. American ones. And, yes, the fact that we aren't talking about our Italian or Greek folks, you know?

I have Irish friends who get bugged if we Americans ever say we're Irish. It's just a different cultural thing here in the big melting pot, lol. We expect folks to be both American and some other nationality or culture at home, very often in any case.

Mr Flibble
12-30-2011, 03:44 PM
But in the US, there isn't really a polite way to ask an Asian person (especially if they are Asian-American) "Where are you from?" or "What should I call you?" (The implication is often insulting, especially for U.S. citizens.)


Some find it fairly insulting or are at least tired of it (I think we had this discussion somewhere else), especially when people aren't satisfied with 'Croydon'.

Where someone is from (was born) doesn't always equal ethnicity.

Um, there was an article in the Guardian...

Ah yes there were two

'Tired of where are you from (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/03/racist-question-brown-answer-curious)'

'I welcome the question' (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/09/race-ethnicity-multicultural-britain)

alessahinlo
12-30-2011, 07:16 PM
I was thinking the same. Asking about someone else's ethnicity or race is generally rude. I've had people ask "what are you." I just walk away.

My "favorite" question is "Where are you from? No. I mean where you're really from?" Usually accompanied by a smirk and raised eyebrow.

So. Rude.

Amadan
12-30-2011, 07:46 PM
Some find it fairly insulting or are at least tired of it (I think we had this discussion somewhere else), especially when people aren't satisfied with 'Croydon'.

Where someone is from (was born) doesn't always equal ethnicity.

Um, there was an article in the Guardian...

Ah yes there were two

'Tired of where are you from (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/03/racist-question-brown-answer-curious)'

'I welcome the question' (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/mar/09/race-ethnicity-multicultural-britain)


Yeah, I think the important point there is context. If you've become friends with someone, or are at least in a relaxed conversation where discussing backgrounds is appropriate, you may be able to inoffensively inquire about someone's ethnicity. However, it's the "Where are you from?" questions that tend to get people's backs up, and I really don't think it's ever polite to ask someone that based purely on their outward appearance, even if not everyone you ask will necessarily take offense.

missesdash
12-30-2011, 07:57 PM
I'm really into etymology and word origins, so I'll occasionally ask someone the origin of their last name if it's one I don't recognize. I've yet to get the side eye for it because it really is about the name and not about how they look. So I think that's one way.

People are actually pretty enthusiastic about explaining their background if the subject comes up naturally or is broached in an appropriate way.

kuwisdelu
12-30-2011, 11:46 PM
I'll usually say I was born in Indianapolis, but I'm from Zuni pueblo.

Mr Flibble
12-31-2011, 01:18 AM
Yeah, I think the important point there is context. If you've become friends with someone, or are at least in a relaxed conversation where discussing backgrounds is appropriate, you may be able to inoffensively inquire about someone's ethnicity. However, it's the "Where are you from?" questions that tend to get people's backs up, and I really don't think it's ever polite to ask someone that based purely on their outward appearance, even if not everyone you ask will necessarily take offense.

Again the thing is often perceived intent

I'll ask anyone without a local accent where they are from. Because, uh, well when you're chatting to someone you just do (sometimes)

But if a black guy says he's from Croydon, fair play. Onmly now I wonder...shouldn't I ask that? I asked it when I went to view a house share and the guys had odd accents and they were Aussies. I ask it when a white guy comes into the pub with an accent I can't place, ir if I don't know them (I live in the kind of place you bump into a LOT of people you knwo from somewhere)

So the question itself.. I can't see how that's problem, because many people ask it of many people who are not POC. I can see how 'No, where are you from really' is a problem.

Again I think that often face to face, you can gauge intent, you know? Honest curiosity v whatever.

eyeblink
01-01-2012, 05:10 AM
Depends on context. If you say "from the UK" it's less likely to offend; if you say "British", I doubt anyone will blink.

Anyone from the British Isles could be called British, though not all of the British Isles are in the UK.

Quick summary: the British Isles are the group of islands off the northwest of continental Europe. They include Great Britain (the eighth largest non-continental island in the world (IIRC) which makes up the mainlands of England, Wales and Scotland, Ireland and lots of smaller islands.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland comprises Great Britain and its offshore islands (Scotland has a lot of them) and the six counties that make up Northern Ireland.

The rest of the island of Ireland (and its offshore islands) makes up the Republic of Ireland, which is a separate country - unlike the UK, its currency is the Euro.

The Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are self-governing Crown Dependencies. They are not in the UK (though they have UK postcodes and telephone dialling codes and use UK currency) nor are they in the EU. The Channel Islands are divided further into the Bailiwick of Guernsey (Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Herm, Jethou, Brecqhou etc) and the Bailiwick of Jersey (Jersey and its offshore islets, though AFAIK none of those islets are inhabited).

missesdash
01-01-2012, 05:32 AM
Again the thing is often perceived intent

I'll ask anyone without a local accent where they are from. Because, uh, well when you're chatting to someone you just do (sometimes)

But if a black guy says he's from Croydon, fair play. Onmly now I wonder...shouldn't I ask that? I asked it when I went to view a house share and the guys had odd accents and they were Aussies. I ask it when a white guy comes into the pub with an accent I can't place, ir if I don't know them (I live in the kind of place you bump into a LOT of people you knwo from somewhere)

So the question itself.. I can't see how that's problem, because many people ask it of many people who are not POC. I can see how 'No, where are you from really' is a problem.

Again I think that often face to face, you can gauge intent, you know? Honest curiosity v whatever.

I think this is another cultural difference. As an American I had to get used to French people constantly asking me what I'm "doing here." The answer is "living" obviously. But I did feel the question was rude. That and "how long are you staying in France?"

Now I'm used to it. But in general I prefer to offer the information instead of have someone ask. And I don't feel obligated to answer when a stranger wants to know. This is especially true if it's the first thing they say to me instead of something that casually comes up in conversation.

Amadan
01-01-2012, 06:02 AM
Again the thing is often perceived intent


So the question itself.. I can't see how that's problem, because many people ask it of many people who are not POC. I can see how 'No, where are you from really' is a problem.

Again I think that often face to face, you can gauge intent, you know? Honest curiosity v whatever.

Face to face is easier, but of course, online no one can tell what you look like so no one is likely to ask the same questions.

Intent is course important, and people can misjudge intent. But there's also cultural context. There's a lot of historical baggage Asian-Americans have to deal with. Which is why asking someone "Where are you from?" even if asked with innocent intent, hits a lot of hot buttons. (And even if asked with innocent intent, an American really shouldn't look at an Asian person and think "Maybe s/he is a foreigner, I think I'll ask." For that matter, frankly, neither should a Brit, but I'll let y'all speak about that side of the pond.)


Anyone from the British Isles could be called British, though not all of the British Isles are in the UK.

Quick summary:

Well, I don't think we needed a geography lesson. I'm pretty clear about what is "Britain," politically, and the difference between Britain and England. But it's not always obvious to us Yanks how people from different parts of Britain self-identify.

Mardigras
01-01-2012, 06:04 AM
Actually, I do wonder. Is it out-and-out offensive to call someone 'black' in the US, or is 'African American' just preferred? (pardon my ignorance)

I'd say "black" is the preferred term, although "African American" can be used also. It's awful really that there's been such discrimination against a people who have been such a priceless asset to the social fabric of the US.

kuwisdelu
01-01-2012, 06:17 AM
And if you're Native American, "Where are you from?" can often be loosely translated as "Go back to Mexico," which is insulting on at least two levels (neither of which even have anything to do with suggesting I am Mexican).

zahra
01-01-2012, 06:32 AM
You know what, the thing I'm least interested in is where someone is from. I've worked on cruise ships and been surrounded by so many nationals, and now landlubbing am surrounded again. I don't want to sound self-righteous, but I don't give a flying toss from a giant catapult. I care about whether they're funny, mean, sweet, stupid, intelligent, interesting, trustworthy, bitter, silly, sexy, reckless - any of those things. Unless I'm gonna be their girlfriend and their background become important to me, what's it matter?

If it does matter, and does impact on their life - for instance if they're a refugee from a country of horrors - it'll become evident soon enough. If they care to tell me about their country of origin, as lots of my colleagues do, fine, I'll listen, and hope it's interesting.

Dunno, maybe it's because I'm so used to being amongst non-Brits, but I can't remember the last time I asked someone where they were from.

missesdash
01-01-2012, 09:11 AM
You know what, the thing I'm least interested in is where someone is from. I've worked on cruise ships and been surrounded by so many nationals, and now landlubbing am surrounded again. I don't want to sound self-righteous, but I don't give a flying toss from a giant catapult. I care about whether they're funny, mean, sweet, stupid, intelligent, interesting, trustworthy, bitter, silly, sexy, reckless - any of those things. Unless I'm gonna be their girlfriend and their background become important to me, what's it matter?

If it does matter, and does impact on their life - for instance if they're a refugee from a country of horrors - it'll become evident soon enough. If they care to tell me about their country of origin, as lots of my colleagues do, fine, I'll listen, and hope it's interesting.

Dunno, maybe it's because I'm so used to being amongst non-Brits, but I can't remember the last time I asked someone where they were from.

This is sort of how I feel. I don't recall the last time I asked someone where they were from. I can generally place accents to regions (at least) if not specific countries. But it doesn't really matter.

Mr Flibble
01-01-2012, 01:45 PM
I care about whether they're funny, mean, sweet, stupid, intelligent, interesting, trustworthy, bitter, silly, sexy, reckless - any of those things. Unless I'm gonna be their girlfriend and their background become important to me, what's it matter?

Well I care about those things too, more than I care about the country you were born in. But when you're getting to know someone (anyone) it's a pretty standard question out of interest. And, I don't know, for many people it's an important part of who they are. Their history (and yes, that may include other places/experiences than where they were brought up) is a part of who they are. Past experiences shape who they are now. It's not the same as thinking 'Oh, they're Polish, I bet they work hard' or 'Oh they're X, they'll be Y' or whatever stereotype (or it isn't for me). Their history, including where they were brought up, is part of the context of them.

Granted, you (generic) may or may not need or want to know, depending on how well you intend to know them. But it's a fairly basic part of many conversations with people you are getting to know.


But then I'm a nosy old mare - I will talk to anyone about anything. :D /endlessly fascinated with people.

zahra
01-02-2012, 12:39 AM
Well I care about those things too, more than I care about the country you were born in. But when you're getting to know someone (anyone) it's a pretty standard question out of interest. And, I don't know, for many people it's an important part of who they are. Their history (and yes, that may include other places/experiences than where they were brought up) is a part of who they are. Past experiences shape who they are now. It's not the same as thinking 'Oh, they're Polish, I bet they work hard' or 'Oh they're X, they'll be Y' or whatever stereotype (or it isn't for me). Their history, including where they were brought up, is part of the context of them.

Granted, you (generic) may or may not need or want to know, depending on how well you intend to know them. But it's a fairly basic part of many conversations with people you are getting to know.


But then I'm a nosy old mare - I will talk to anyone about anything. :D /endlessly fascinated with people.

See, to me, where someone is from isn't really of that much interest unless you've got some interest in the country itself. I find the most useful and interesting things about people usually come across out of circumstance, anyway, not that kind of smalltalk questioning. Also, in believing that a person's country of origin is an important part of their make-up, isn't that going to tempt the making of assumptions based on that country?

I guess because I've been surrounded by loads of different nationalities so much, I've found a person's country of origin is actually one of least important or interesting things about them. Of my colleagues, M. isn't always late and very artistic and nervous because he's Polish, Re. and Ro. don't have verbal diarrhea because they're Latvian and Aussie respectively, Angeles and Magda didn't have problems with men and depression because they were - Spanish? Portuguese? (can't remember) and Canadian respectively.

Also, when I was a kid, people would ask me where I was from and then when I resolutely told them I was born here (UK), they would then, as though my answer was irrelevant to their assumptions, say, 'Oh, well, where are your PARENTS from, then?' And did they then want to know anything more about my parents' country of origin, had their questions been prompted by cultural intelligence/curiosity? No. That would be all they asked, as though the answer had ticked some little internal box they had going. THAT'S what I mean about attaching oh-so-much importance to someone's country of origin. I guess I could be a mite touchy about the subject, though, and, IdiotsRus, I don't mean to imply 'This Means You'!

Mr Flibble
01-02-2012, 12:53 AM
Obviously we have a different perspective on things. How to explain? I am interested in people as a whole, not just bits of them. The culture a person is brought up in affects their experiences, and that affects them.

I try not to assume anything (probably fail at times) but if I'm not interested in what has made this person who they are, things about themselves they have to tell me, I'm probably not that interested in them.

When you think about it, our past experiences can be (depends on the sort of friendship you have I suppose) a fair portion of just normal conversation, and an insight into who we are. I can't see why you'd not want to explore that, if you are interested in someone as a person?



Also, when I was a kid, people would ask me where I was from and then when I resolutely told them I was born here (UK), they would then, as though my answer was irrelevant to their assumptions, say, 'Oh, well, where are your PARENTS from, then?'See, if that's happened to you, I can now understand a bit why you aren't so keen on the whole knowing/asking where people come from. (Your past experience becoming a part of who you are) Because that what I quoted is just rude.

But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about in general conversation. You say you don't know/care about where people come from, but just told me where all these people came from...(or are they fictitious for examples? I can't tell). It crops up in conversations all the time between all sorts of people, not just white v POC and while yes, it CAN be rude, it can equally be a completely innocuous and normal part of conversation. So again, we're down to intent and the fact that some people don't care whether they are asked, and it pushes the odd button on some whatever the intent and all things between. Only it's hard to tell which is which until you ask the question! Then the option is don't and...well, see the previous few pages as people throw in different scenarios as to what it is or isn;t rude to call someone, but then if you don't know they're Japanese, is it rude to use a more generic term (that pisses people off too, but if you can't ask...)etc etc.

ETA: I'm put in mind of a quote (something about people who try to understand/sympathise can be more annoying than those who just hate) but I can't for the life of me remember who said it or what it was exactly. I am trying not to be annoying, honest:D

Amadan
01-02-2012, 01:12 AM
Obviously we have a different perspective on things. How to explain? I am interested in people as a whole, not just bits of them. The culture a person is brought up in affects their experiences, and that affects them.


You seem to be rather.. dedicated to the idea that no one should ever question your right to question other people about their backgrounds.

There's a saying common in certain corners of the Internet: intent is not magic. Which means even though someone might ask a well-meaning question with the best of intentions, their failure to apprehend (and to a degree, respect) the fact that not everyone will welcome that question does not erase potential offense.

No one is saying here that it is always offensive to ask about someone's nationality or ethnicity or "where they're from" or that everyone in the world takes offense at such questions or that anyone who asks is a clueless bigot.

But, you know, I think it's wise to be aware of how a question could sound if you weren't well-intentioned. Because the person you ask might not know your intentions.

I just find it hard to imagine a situation in which, in casual conversation, I'd find it appropriate to ask someone to clarify their ethnicity for me unless it's something they brought up.

Mr Flibble
01-02-2012, 01:23 AM
No, not..intent on being right. Just trying to have a discussion, you know swap perspectives....nvm.

I don't pin people down and insist they answer questions about themselves. I don't demand to know the family tree of everyone I meet. As I said, several times, it just crops up in conversation. I can see exactly why it would piss people off in the context (ie they're fed up of the question, or of people not believing a la that Guardian article) etc, but it's also hard to tell who those people are going to be.


No one is saying here that it is always offensive to ask about someone's nationality or ethnicity or "where they're from" or that everyone in the world takes offense at such questions or that anyone who asks is a clueless bigot.

Um, and I didn't say anyone did?



I just find it hard to imagine a situation in which, in casual conversation, I'd find it appropriate to ask someone to clarify their ethnicity for me unless it's something they brought up.

Er, well the conversation was about just that a couple of pages ago. Where people say they just ask, and then I quoted the bit about how some people are tired/pissed off being asked?

Okay.

Bowing out.

missesdash
01-02-2012, 02:15 AM
What's interesting about the question "where are you from/what's your ethnicity" is that a lot of people boil it down to wanting to know more about the person. But I definitely challenge everyone to think about it on a much deeper level.

What, exactly, do you know about a person when they tell you their ethnicity or country of origin? It's true our culture effects the way we are, but when someone tells you "I'm from this place" you'd have to make a lot of assumptions to figure out the information we think "where are you from" provides.

The truth is that is generally tells you nothing about the person. There are some instances (the person is a woman, you learn they're from a country where women aren't allowed to leave the house without a chaperon) where you will be able to come to logical conclusions. But it'll never be as set in stone as the person coming out and saying the fact ("I enjoy being here because I can leave the house without a chaperon.)

So again, it's not that the country of origin doesn't shape who they are. Rather, it's that we can't know how it has shaped them until they reveal other things about themselves, and in that case, those things are the information we were seeking in the first place.

Just some thoughts.

backslashbaby
01-02-2012, 02:46 AM
No, not..intent on being right. Just trying to have a discussion, you know swap perspectives....nvm.

I don't pin people down and insist they answer questions about themselves. I don't demand to know the family tree of everyone I meet. As I said, several times, it just crops up in conversation. I can see exactly why it would piss people off in the context (ie they're fed up of the question, or of people not believing a la that Guardian article) etc, but it's also hard to tell who those people are going to be.

...

I totally ask anyone with any accent that isn't from my area in NC where they are from! Well, practically :) Imho, it's different if there is an accent or something to indicate a different locale than where you are. And I'm sure I ask as many white people as PoC where they are from; that question is not about implying foreign-ness due to skin color.

I have had a couple of folks stop for a second! But when I mention that I detected a South Carolina accent, for instance, they are usually happy to explain where they got their own accent.

It may be a cultural thing itself. Southerners always ask the question, in my experience. Of everyone!

Mr Flibble
01-02-2012, 04:12 AM
*disclaimer - I have worked 24 of the last 36 hours. Tired.

Okay I said I as bowing out but this occurred to me (apart from the fact I was expecting/hoping for zahar to come and tell me why I'm wrong - for a discussion. I'm sure Amadan can work out what one of those is...maybe) For a frank and open discourse, that might enlighten me/us/everyone

Thanks for putting paid to that.

I was brought up to not judge anyone by their colour etc, To take people as they are blah blah. This was right and good at the time. Tis was what was wanted - to take people on their merits as people, not their colour (a la MLK). Was how I was brought up. This was good. This was what POC wanted. It felt right too.

I managed, until I met this board and several people that I respect very much told me that I should...take into account a person's culture too. That it would be very rude NOT to. Okay, I can do that. It goes against my 'everyone is people' thing, but if it's that important I will try. But that means treating people differently (or at least finding out what their culture i). and...that's not what I was brought up to believe was good. That everyone is a person first.

But, as I respect those people. I've tried* that too. Hard.

I can't know what it is like to be black, cos I ain't but I am sympathetic. I will, au naturalment, fuck it up. Because, I er, are not POC. I may get it(prolly don't), may sympathise, , but I can't know it.

But (as advised by many on this board) it's tricky to take a person's cultural ancestry into account if I don't know what it is. I need to take into account a person's cultural history, but I can't ask about it....

<<

>>

So what is a girl to do?


is that a dichotomy or what? What do I say? I can't assume cos that's bad. I wouldn't want to be assumed about. But..

So I fall back in my 'everyone is people' and it works IRL. Maybe not on the internet, but it works IRL. People are the sum of their experiences. All of us are. All of us. I can't tell what those experiences are by looking at someone (that person is black, bet they've got loads of stories about X! Maybe they have and maybe they haven't) assumptions are why talking to people on a person by person basis helps -. I need to talk to them and see where they are coming from, if I don' I'm just glossing over them.. wherever they are from.

As writers,(and his is a WRITING forum) we need to get down to that reality.


Maybe I'm being a dick here, but I ain't meaning to be. I'm actually trying to NOT be a dick. I am trying to get it. (again people trying to get it ar more annoying than people who just hate) Would you rather some blanket hate/tokenism/magic negro in your books than someone trying (and possibly failing) to understand a different culture's needs for POC? I barely understand the basic differences between US and UK!






* failed probably, but then they other people may fail at getting my cultural wassname.

Like I said earlier - people trying to understand are probably more annoying than people ho hate, cos you can just ignore them

I just think people are people. I want to know how/why they tick. I don't give a shit what colour they are ( no not colour blind - I notice it, but like a huge nose, which may have made someone's life a misery, it doesn't mean I treat them any differently. Part of are who they are I notice, it doesn't make me treat them any differently)How/where they were brought is part of that. Part of a normal convo.

If this is a problem, I can't help that, I just treat people as people. Sorry.



be aware of how a question could sound if you weren't well-intentioned.

Given previous posts of yours, that sword cuts both ways.

BTW I just have to say this because it's true


No, not..intent on being right.

Pot, kettle..You.

missesdash
01-02-2012, 04:25 AM
@Idiots just to clarify my post. I didn't mean there's anything wrong with knowing a person's ethnicity. I was more speaking about why I prefer for people to let me bring it up instead of them asking.

I don't understand most of your post, lol, but you did say you were tired. Anyway, I can't speak for the others but I thought we were having a frank and open discussion. Sorry if it's distressing to you for one reason or another. But none of it is personal. I can't quite read your tone, I just don't want you to get upset/feel singled out over something that isn't about you specifically.

I've had a lot of discussions like this and for some reason (again I don't mean you) white women I've spoken with often resort to crying when someone tries to explain why something they said/did was offensive/racist. I know that sounds like a stereotype but it's happened so so many times. Anyway, these discussions are generally about awareness, even if they do get heated. we all have behavior that could be considered problematic be specific groups.

Amadan
01-02-2012, 04:56 AM
Pot, kettle..You.


I don't understand why you are quoting yourself and then telling me "Pot, kettle."

I also don't know why you think I was trying to shut you up. If we put our views out there, other people are likely to challenge them. I haven't been disrespectful to you or told you you can't ask questions. (And I couldn't do that anyway; I'm neither a mod nor a POC.)

STKlingaman
01-02-2012, 05:07 AM
Aren't we all people of color?
Why do we need yet ANOTHER term
to further divide the human race.

Would a black person consider a
white person a 'person of color'?

Would a Japanese person consider a
India person a 'person of color'?

Would an Eskimo consider a
white person a 'person of color'?

Would a Mexican or consider a
Spaniard a 'person of color'?

white is a color
black is a color
brown is a color
They're all in the crayon box.

Medievalist
01-02-2012, 05:13 AM
What's interesting about the question "where are you from/what's your ethnicity" is that a lot of people boil it down to wanting to know more about the person. But I definitely challenge everyone to think about it on a much deeper level.

I'm not very interested in ethnicity or origins; I'm very interested in what languages / dialects people know.

I will ask people if they know a particular language--if I have some reason to suspect they might. I get such warm enthusiastic responses from people--even people I don't know--that I don't think I've offended anyone.

I met a cab driver in Santa Monica who was Catalan. I happened to notice that on his license, posted in the cab, he was named after a Catalan saint.

So I asked if he knew Catatlan.

He was a native speaker, and fluent--and a poet.

I met an attorney on the opposite side of an IP case I worked on.

After the trial was over, he and the other opposing attorneys took all of the others out for a beer; it was a hard, difficult case, and it ended up being settled (surprisingly so) to the benefit of both sides.

He asked what I did, what my background was, in terms of academic studies, and I found out he was a native speaker of Syriac, an ancient language that is still spoken today, and which has close ties to Aramaic.

I'm still in touch with both people.

missesdash
01-02-2012, 05:17 AM
Aren't we all people of color?
No.


Why do we need yet ANOTHER term
to further divide the human race.
It's actually used in place of "minorities."


Would a black person consider a
white person a 'person of color'?
No.


Would a Japanese person consider a
India person a 'person of color'?
Yes


Would an Eskimo consider a
white person a 'person of color'?
"Eskimo" is not a race.


Would a Mexican or consider a
Spaniard a 'person of color'?
Neither of those are races.

backslashbaby
01-02-2012, 07:25 AM
I always get asked where I am from, then where I was born after I say 'here', btw. Like 90% of people who meet me expecting a local or Southern accent do this. It's because my accent is different than the locals, because we moved often when I was learning language (it's Southern and something else folks can't place).

That's not important at all, except that it is a question that may have a different motivation than folks expect in some cases. Don't get me wrong; I know the racist or Othering way happens all the time! That point is certainly the one to take home here.

missesdash
01-02-2012, 07:47 AM
I always get asked where I am from, then where I was born after I say 'here', btw. Like 90% of people who meet me expecting a local or Southern accent do this. It's because my accent is different than the locals, because we moved often when I was learning language (it's Southern and something else folks can't place).

That's not important at all, except that it is a question that may have a different motivation than folks expect in some cases. Don't get me wrong; I know the racist or Othering way happens all the time! That point is certainly the one to take home here.

After living in New York and Paris and then coming visit family down south, I was completely thrown off by how much strangers talked to me. I remember I was in the bathroom washing my hands, and some woman just began to talk to me. I don't remember what she was talking about, I was too busy trying to remember whether or not it was the usual. But then I went to a few stores and restaurants and strangers would constantly chat me up. It's funny because I went to high school down there, so it's not new. But being away from it for a while made me realize how off putting it can be for some people. Was an interesting moment of reflection :) Southern people really are some of the friendliest people you'll meet.

Kitty27
01-02-2012, 12:09 PM
Aren't we all people of color?
Why do we need yet ANOTHER term
to further divide the human race.
"Yes,we are of the human race. But it is an unavoidable fact that POC have an entirely different experience. Hence,this forum.

Would a black person consider a
white person a 'person of color'?
"No,we wouldn't."

Would a Japanese person consider a
India person a 'person of color'?
"Yes,they would."

Would an Eskimo consider a
white person a 'person of color'?
"Eskimo isn't a race."

Would a Mexican or consider a
Spaniard a 'person of color'?
Mexican and Spaniard aren't races.

white is a color
black is a color
brown is a color
They're all in the crayon box.


That is a nice sentiment. But is NOT reality. People of color have issues,drama,and outright phuckery that needs to be discussed. Some writers here are very interested in writing characters of color and this forum is a resource for them. POC writers face challenges in the publishing industry and this is a place to discuss that and anything else that comes up.

We also just like to talk,joke,etc.


If you wish to discuss said issues or inquire about writing characters of color,you are more than welcome. Same goes if you'd like to chat.

That said,please read the sticky. This isn't a place for division amongst the rainbow that make up the human family.

Again,read the sticky and don't come with this again.

Thanks,

Kitty27

backslashbaby
01-02-2012, 12:20 PM
After living in New York and Paris and then coming visit family down south, I was completely thrown off by how much strangers talked to me. I remember I was in the bathroom washing my hands, and some woman just began to talk to me. I don't remember what she was talking about, I was too busy trying to remember whether or not it was the usual. But then I went to a few stores and restaurants and strangers would constantly chat me up. It's funny because I went to high school down there, so it's not new. But being away from it for a while made me realize how off putting it can be for some people. Was an interesting moment of reflection :) Southern people really are some of the friendliest people you'll meet.

:) Thank you! And it can be very off putting, depending on where you are from and your personality. It's just quite different than a lot of places. I love it all sorts of ways. I adore Parisians, for instance (especially the saucy attitude many have).

My grandmother used to also ask total strangers what church they went to in those bathroom conversations :ROFL: She wanted to know if she knew any of your pals or relatives. Then she'd tell you who else they knew or went to school with ;) That said, she had the happiest mailmen, garbagemen, etc in town: they each got their own favorite pie baked for them on their birthday!

Mardigras
01-02-2012, 11:48 PM
We're all descended from the same ancestor. There is no such thing as race. http://www.nationnews.com/letters/view/there-is-no-such-thing-as-race/

mirandashell
01-02-2012, 11:51 PM
I think we have to have at least two ancestors.......

missesdash
01-02-2012, 11:54 PM
We're all descended from the same ancestor. There is no such thing as race. http://www.nationnews.com/letters/view/there-is-no-such-thing-as-race/

I don't think you've blown any minds here. We all know.

This is true from an anthropological point of view. Race is indeed a social and cultural construct, just like time.

But that doesn't keep your manager from docking your pay when you're late, does it? We celebrate "the new year" despite there being no such thing as a "year."

Race is a construct, but it's still a part of our reality. Denying that is a disservice to anyone who has ever participate in the fight for racial equality. Beyond that, your post doesn't seem go relate to any of the others in the thread.


ETA: your link is rather lacking. Read the American Anthropological Association's statement on race if you'd like something to reference when making the argument:

http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/racepp.htm

backslashbaby
01-02-2012, 11:55 PM
We're all descended from the same ancestor. There is no such thing as race. http://www.nationnews.com/letters/view/there-is-no-such-thing-as-race/

We're lots of cool different colors, though :D I wish we'd all see the fun in that, or at very least, not take it as a big deal.

eta: cross posted! Sorry.

STKlingaman
01-03-2012, 12:43 AM
"Yes,we are of the human race. But it is an unavoidable fact that POC have an entirely different experience. Hence,this forum. - Kitty27

Difference as in better or worse?
Each person has different experiences,
each and everyone of us.
use skin color, hair color, body deformity
speech patterns, what ever you wish, to
declare my experiences are worthy or
special, or . . . . whatever reason you
wish to use.


If you continue to support the stereotype
it will continue to grow, and be accepted
it will continue to fester and divide people.
CHANGE Reality, change the perception
it's won't happen over night, but living with
the pass will never change it.
Learn from the past, change the present
Improve the future.

posh!

Medievalist
01-03-2012, 12:48 AM
STKlingaman won't be posting in PoC any more.

http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-36-fall-2009/colorblindness-new-racism

Amadan
01-03-2012, 12:57 AM
STKlingaman won't be posting in PoC any more.


But I almost had bingo!

Kitty27
01-03-2012, 08:44 AM
STKlingaman won't be posting in PoC any more.

http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-36-fall-2009/colorblindness-new-racism

Thank you,Medi!

crunchyblanket
01-03-2012, 01:58 PM
I've had a lot of discussions like this and for some reason (again I don't mean you) white women I've spoken with often resort to crying when someone tries to explain why something they said/did was offensive/racist.


I don't think this is exclusive to 'white women'. I find that, very often, when a privileged person has their privilege challenge, they react defensively. Often, when I try to discuss male privilege with men, or able-bodied privilege with an able-bodied person, I find the immediate reaction is hurt defensiveness. I think it's a byproduct of ingrained privilege, that we are shocked when someone points it out. Not to say that it excuses the reaction :)



But (as advised by many on this board) it's tricky to take a person's cultural ancestry into account if I don't know what it is. I need to take into account a person's cultural history, but I can't ask about it....



I think IRS makes an interesting point here. I went to school in London where the majority of the kids spoke English as a second language. I thought it was fascinating, and took the opportunity to learn as much about other cultures and languages as I could. Maybe it's because we were kids, but I didn't find there was any kind of problem with me asking those kinds of questions.

Fast forward 20+ years, and it's a different ball game. There's adult baggage, particularly in a country like the UK where, historically, and continuing to present day, the attitude towards minorities has been sadly unpleasant. So I get that a question like 'where are you from?' is far more loaded, by necessity, than might be intended. You don't know the intention of the person asking you. You don't know how they'll react. It's why I never tick 'Traveller/Gypsy' on ethnicity forms: thanks to the robust history of antiziganism, I don't feel secure in other people knowing. On the other hand, I love that the UK is so diverse, and made up of so many cultures, and would greatly welcome the chance to learn more about them, so...it's difficult to weight my desire to learn with my desire not to piss people off.

zahra
01-04-2012, 06:26 PM
Obviously we have a different perspective on things. How to explain? I am interested in people as a whole, not just bits of them. The culture a person is brought up in affects their experiences, and that affects them.

I try not to assume anything (probably fail at times) but if I'm not interested in what has made this person who they are, things about themselves they have to tell me, I'm probably not that interested in them.

When you think about it, our past experiences can be (depends on the sort of friendship you have I suppose) a fair portion of just normal conversation, and an insight into who we are. I can't see why you'd not want to explore that, if you are interested in someone as a person?


See, if that's happened to you, I can now understand a bit why you aren't so keen on the whole knowing/asking where people come from. (Your past experience becoming a part of who you are) Because that what I quoted is just rude.

But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about in general conversation. You say you don't know/care about where people come from, but just told me where all these people came from...(or are they fictitious for examples? I can't tell). It crops up in conversations all the time between all sorts of people, not just white v POC and while yes, it CAN be rude, it can equally be a completely innocuous and normal part of conversation. So again, we're down to intent and the fact that some people don't care whether they are asked, and it pushes the odd button on some whatever the intent and all things between. Only it's hard to tell which is which until you ask the question! Then the option is don't and...well, see the previous few pages as people throw in different scenarios as to what it is or isn;t rude to call someone, but then if you don't know they're Japanese, is it rude to use a more generic term (that pisses people off too, but if you can't ask...)etc etc.

ETA: I'm put in mind of a quote (something about people who try to understand/sympathise can be more annoying than those who just hate) but I can't for the life of me remember who said it or what it was exactly. I am trying not to be annoying, honest:D

As you say, 'it crops up in conversation'. I know where the people I quoted are from as an organic outcome of working with them for time periods ranging from months to years. I know Renata is Latvian like I know she has a younger brother. (Eek, now I think about it, I have a feeling she might be Lithuanian....)

Sorry if I'm wrong, but I got the idea from your earlier posting that country of origin would be something you would ASK to be told.

But I know you're not trying to be annoying and I don't think you are a dick! I totally understand that your being told to take people's culture into consideration, and now being told not to, is infuriating and confusing. OK, to address that issue: You know what, I'd rather somebody offended me because they didn't know my parents' country of origin than have them ask for that information purposely - even if it WASN'T for the express purpose of keeping their views quiet. I'm quite capable of giving them some schooling myself if they've done or said something I find ignorant, if and when it occurs.

I guess I'm saying, be as sensitive as you think you need to be about the known culture of your cab driver/fellow passenger/new colleague, but if you don't know it, you don't know it, big deal, they're just a person, and if you do step on cultural toes, you go, "Well, I didn't know you were English, but I'm gonna celebrate Fourth of July anyway, so stick it up your bum, Lord Snootington-Landgrabber!" That's how I play it, anyway. :)

I hope you're not feeling attacked; this is a discussion, of course, and people here who have been on the receiving end of 'where are you from?', especially non-white people, have a legitimate reason for feeling all teeth-gritty about it.

Snitchcat
01-04-2012, 09:19 PM
Returning to the point about asking someone's country of origin, it is a natural question for here, China. As a poster said earlier, it's a cultural thing.

Generally, due to the intense work schedule and lack of annual leave, many Chinese don't get to visit countries beyond, say, Thailand. However, asking about one's country of origin is a way of 'visiting' a country we might never otherwise get to know about. And we are intensely curious. There's no malice to the question at any level; just curiosity. But I do take the point that such a question can seem rude or offensive.

The question also serves another purpose: the correct form of address for an individual's nationality, ethnicity and, importantly, ancestry. Again, it's cultural. Especially when it comes to the Day of the Dead or Ancestor Worship (Honouring) Day, or the Chinese New Year.

The first two is simply honouring the departed and ancestors. So knowing your origins or ancestors' origins is important.

For the Chinese New Year, it's all about going home, back to your ancestral home to be with all your family and relatives and extended family to celebrate the end of winter and the new spring which will bring plenty and warmth. So when asked where one is from, it's a question related to ancestry: which province / district / village does your line hail from?

As far as the question, 'How should I address you?', goes, in Chinese, it's actually very polite and acceptable to ask. The missing, but implied word, please, is represented by tone of voice. I guess translated word for word, the informal or casual question would be, 'how address, please?' And for the formal version, it would run thus: 'Please may I ask how you like to be called / known?' Taking it to full archaic formal: 'Please may I ask your honoured self your honourable surname and given name?' Again, though, I can see how such a question could offend.

There was something else I wanted to add, but half-asleep right now! Lol, bedtime! :tongue

aruna
01-04-2012, 09:31 PM
I went to college in Germany for 4 years, and I was a minority of 1 among hundreds. There wasn''t even anybody who looked vaguely Meditteranean. I was well integrated and I had no problems with anyone. But I found it really strange that not one person ever asked me where I was from. Not one, in all those four years. Nobody expressed any sort of curiosity about my home country. Why not? Surely it's normal to have some kind of curiosity when someone is so obviously of a different background? I remember, in my third year, finally, someone asked; and she asked only because I had just left a seminar room and the lecturer had asked the group where I was from, and nobody had known. After three years!!!
Like IRU I am very curious about other countries and meeting people from other cultures. I like to know where people are from; I like to guess where they are from, and then I ask. Obviously, in a country like the UK or USA it might be considered rude because all too often non-whites are born and bred there and don't feel anything else but British or American. But these people could tell -- from my accent -- that I wasn't German. I thought it was rude for them NOT to ask; it showed a basic lack of interest in a co-student.

missesdash
01-04-2012, 09:40 PM
@Aruna that's a pretty interesting take, to consider a lack of interest rude.

I don't know if I agree. No one is obligated to give attention to another person. I actually think it's a sign of respect that they just considered you another student instead of "that girl from somewhere else."

It sounds somewhat like "but guys! I'm different! Why won't anyone notice?" Which I'm sure wasn't your mindset. But really a lack of interest in another person can't be rude. No one is owed interest.

aruna
01-04-2012, 10:07 PM
It's not that I felt they owed me their interest Missesdash. I just wanted to know why... It just seems to me such a normal, obvious thing. These were students of Social Work. There was a lot of professed interest in the so-called Third World. They were always talking about Nicaragua and Grenada and other countries that were in the news at the time; problems in Africa, poverty here and there... all very political. ANd yet, there was someone among them who might be from one of these countries... and not a word?
I never figured it out. I'm not a talkative person so it wasn't that I was offended or anything. I just found it very strange.

I'm just someone who gets very excited about foreigners. I love travelling, and the next best thing is knowing people from those countries. They bring a whole different perspective with them. I certainly wouldn't appreciate it if they all thought I was German -- how boring!

But then again, at the time I was very much alone in the world. I was hoping (not expecting!) for some warmth, some interest from the people around me, which never came. In the meantime I know: it's just the German way. Now I can live with it. As a young student it made me feel isolated.

It's just a different perspective. If you come to Guyana as a foreigner everybody is interested in you and your country. You will be invited to everybody's home and showered with hospitality; you're an honoured guest. So for me, the German lack of personal interest in foreigners felt cold.

In the migst of those studies I went to the USA for an internship. It was in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And immediately, the difference was apparent. People would be smiling and greeting me on the street, total strangers; people were warm and friendly, approaching me with interest, asking questions, making me feel at home. And I felt at home immediately, and in fact, wanted to stay and settle. It didn't work out.

zahra
01-04-2012, 11:02 PM
It's not that I felt they owed me their interest Missesdash. I just wanted to know why... It just seems to me such a normal, obvious thing. These were students of Social Work. There was a lot of professed interest in the so-called Third World. They were always talking about Nicaragua and Grenada and other countries that were in the news at the time; problems in Africa, poverty here and there... all very political. ANd yet, there was someone among them who might be from one of these countries... and not a word?
I never figured it out. I'm not a talkative person so it wasn't that I was offended or anything. I just found it very strange.

I'm just someone who gets very excited about foreigners. I love travelling, and the next best thing is knowing people from those countries. They bring a whole different perspective with them. I certainly wouldn't appreciate it if they all thought I was German -- how boring!

But then again, at the time I was very much alone in the world. I was hoping (not expecting!) for some warmth, some interest from the people around me, which never came. In the meantime I know: it's just the German way. Now I can live with it. As a young student it made me feel isolated.

It's just a different perspective. If you come to Guyana as a foreigner everybody is interested in you and your country. You will be invited to everybody's home and showered with hospitality; you're an honoured guest. So for me, the German lack of personal interest in foreigners felt cold.

In the migst of those studies I went to the USA for an internship. It was in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And immediately, the difference was apparent. People would be smiling and greeting me on the street, total strangers; people were warm and friendly, approaching me with interest, asking questions, making me feel at home. And I felt at home immediately, and in fact, wanted to stay and settle. It didn't work out.

Maybe the Germans were afraid you'd be offended that they equated you with 'problematic' countries. Did they show any interest in you as - oh - just a person, rather than a rep. of those countries?

Your stay in Cambridge sounds great, but if you flip it and take it to another, less enlightened part of the US, doesn't that immediate beam on you as a foreigner bring its own dangers?

missesdash
01-04-2012, 11:39 PM
I also think it's a generational difference. If you go on any POC forum, you'll often find lists of things to not ask POC. there's always something about not treating them like an encyclopedia of facts about their country. Not assuming they'll help you with a report on their country. Not using culture as an ice breaker. Basically a lot of people view their cultural as something deeply personal (hence the increase off discussions about cultural appropriation) and don't want to share it unless they're acquainted with the person.

I imagine this is in response to being "othered" and having their ethnicity exotified/romanticized. I've had people come up to me and talk about how much they love dreadlocks or love black women or something equally absurd. No one wants to be viewed as a single aspect of themselves.

Anyway, that's why it was strange to hear someone say they were disappointed that no one asked about their culture. I often hear the exact opposite.

aruna
01-05-2012, 11:07 AM
In my experience people love to talk about the place they come from. It's always the perfect ice-breaker, whether or not that place is 'exotic' or not. It's often the first thing people ask each other when first they meet -- where do you come from? It could be as non-exotic as Bradford or Baltimore; and it immediately creates connections: Oh, my Dad is form Baltimore! I grew up in Bradford!

I really don't understand why it shoud be different just becuase your skin is dark or you come from a faraway place! I also don't think it's an age/generational thing at all. I don't frequent PoC forums (except this one), but just about everyone I know in real life, young or old, loves to speak about their home country -- I don't want to be considered an old fogey living in the past, and not up to date with current POC mores! It seems to me that when only PoC people can exchange data about our native lands but exclude whites from asking, that is creating walls that should not exist.

I mean, just the other day, New Year's Day, in fact, I was walking along a country road when I came across two youngish white men walking with a little toddler. One of the men spoke in English to the toddler, and so, as I drew up to them (this was in Germany) I said, in English, Happy New Year! And the men smiled and were obviously delighted ot be addressed in English and we all stopped and chatted for a while about where we were from and where we had lived; I said I'd been to school in Harrogate and one of them asked if I had been to the girl's college there and I said Harrogate Ladies' College and he said oh, that's where you get your plum accent (plum accent? Me? No way!) And he said he was from Grimsby, and I asked if that's in Yorkshire, and he said no, but nearby. We just had a perfectly natural, friendly conversation and it was mostly about the places we were from; whereby they initially identified me as English, and I had to correct them and let them know I was from Guyana.

I think speaking of our backgrounds is a wonderful way to get to know people and getting offended because of it -- it just seems very complicated to me, and I very much hope this is not the wave of the future -- that you have to be afraid to ask people about their homelands because they might get offended. We would all end up walking on eggshells, and I already feel IRU's pain at being told she is 'wrong' to do so.

I know that in the English-German expat forum I sometimes frequent (Toytown Germany) the very first thing most newcomers say about themsleves is where they come from. These are mostly white people; and if they can introduce themselves by naming thier hometown, or if they don't mind other people asking, why should young PoC people? And they often remark on the phenomenon I mentioned - -that Germans tend to be reserved and expect YOU to make the effort to get to know THEM, and ask about THEM, and how long it takes to get to know a German. Many poeple on that forum feel just as isolated as I did at first, because of that lack of a friendly, interested approach.

Anyway -- I know for sure that Caribbean people just love identifying their countries to each other. A few months ago I was sitting in a train travellling towards Eastbourne when I heard someone speak to the coffee-man loudly in a very strong West Indian accent, further down the carriage. I was sure it was a Guyanese accent. I got up to peek at the speaker, and sure enough, she was black. So later on I got up and went to speak to her. She glanced up, took one look at me, and said "You're a (maiden name)". She recognised my face because she knew several members of my father's family (in fact she had lived with one of my uncles in London) and it seems there is a family resemblance. I love that kind of thing!

I do believe that on a very subtle, much higher spiritual level we are indeed all one and there are no differences. But on a human level there are these differences, there is this diversity, and it's wonderful. We first-generation immigrants are the very people who can create the understanding necessary for this to be truly one world; we build bridges between one culture and the other, and we are the ONLY ones who can do this. We know the culture that we have moved to, but they don't know ours, and the only way they can know it is through us.

That is one of the main motivations for my writing -- to put my culture, my background, out there, to share it, so that is no longer that exotic 'other'. I'm better at writing than at speaking, and so this is my way of building bridges. If nobody would write or speak about their cultures we would all remain stuck in our ignorance, knowing only the places we live in ourselves. That's sad. IMO.

So I think it's not a generational thing. It's an attitudinal thing. For some of us, it's how we share: it's a come in. For others, it's a keep out. I don't think you can put an age to those two different attitudes.

kuwisdelu
01-05-2012, 11:21 AM
I think it's definitely more of a regional thing than anything to do with generation.

Being on campus with so many foreigners, asking where you come from really is as harmless and exactly as it sounds. Other parts of the very same town it could mean "you're brown, so why are you in my country?"

missesdash
01-05-2012, 11:22 AM
Sorry, I didn't mean to imply you were old or out of date. Just that a lot of people my age have a different view on sharing culture. And it's not necessarily the dominant view of my generation, but it's becoming more prominent.

It's more about having the freedom to not share and not seem rude or inhospitable. I've had people speak to me in English in France before I say a word. I generally think it's rude unless they ask first, in French, if I speak English.

ETA: @kuwisdelu I sort of springboarded off of her comment about them not asking about her and began talking about a similar (but not identical) emerging attitude in younger POC.

aruna
01-05-2012, 11:28 AM
It's more about having the freedom to not share and not seem rude or inhospitable. I've had people speak to me in English in France before I say a word. I generally think it's rude unless they ask first, in French, if I speak English.
.


People I meet in Germany always speak to me in German; I love it! Nobody assumes I am a foreigner any more, and that is great. But they can tell from my accent and my many errors that I am not native German. And more and more, they ask.

kuwisdelu
01-05-2012, 11:29 AM
I think it boils down to how a question like "you aren't from around here, are you?" can mean either "you seem lost, so let me help you" or "you don't belong here" depending on the context.

backslashbaby
01-05-2012, 05:45 PM
I've had some of the absolute best times of my life with people I met randomly while traveling, people who live wherever I'm visiting. That's what I love so much about going other places (along with the food and views!).

The last time I was at Gatwick, I spent a great deal of time with a Jamaican lady who invited me down to her farm. I'd totally go if I could, and she knew that. She said I'd have to castrate her goat :ROFL:

OTOH, my brother is not like this at all when he travels. He finds it embarrassing and not done. Different strokes :) He has his own kind of good time. No, we do not travel together ;)

mirandashell
01-05-2012, 10:37 PM
I was once walking in my local park and it was snowing gently. It was beautiful.

There was a young black guy walking towards me and as he got close, he held a camera out and said, 'Could you take a picture of me, please? I want to send it home.'

So as I'm taking the picture, I ask him 'Where are you from?'
'Bradford.'

There's a long pause as I stare at him, wondering what the hell I should say next, when he grinned really big. So I burst out laughing and said 'That was unfair!'

He said 'I know, sorry. I'm actually from Nigeria.'

So we had a good conversation about his home and his family and what not.

And I thought about it afterwards. He must have been asked that question a lot. But I would never have asked if he hadn't mentioned home. And how I assumed he was from somewhere hot because he wanted a photo of himself in snow, not because he was black.

So him saying Bradford could have really backfired on him.

crunchyblanket
08-27-2012, 01:15 AM
Sorry to pull this thread up from the bottom, but I have a question I feel would be relevant to this thread. See, I have a character in my WIP who is a cyborg (shush) but is initially thought to be human. My MC describes her to another character as looking "Oriental."

Now, in Britain, this term isn't considered offensive - it's fairly common usage, even among East Asians. But obviously, I've learned through this thread that this is not universal.

Is it better to tread carefully with this term? I can't use 'Asian' as that specifically refers to South Asian people in the UK...but I don't know a better way to express it other than outright saying 'she looks Chinese'. Is that preferable, or does it sound clumsy?

Polenth
08-27-2012, 05:15 AM
Sorry to pull this thread up from the bottom, but I have a question I feel would be relevant to this thread. See, I have a character in my WIP who is a cyborg (shush) but is initially thought to be human. My MC describes her to another character as looking "Oriental."

Now, in Britain, this term isn't considered offensive - it's fairly common usage, even among East Asians. But obviously, I've learned through this thread that this is not universal.

Is it better to tread carefully with this term? I can't use 'Asian' as that specifically refers to South Asian people in the UK...but I don't know a better way to express it other than outright saying 'she looks Chinese'. Is that preferable, or does it sound clumsy?

For general online discussion, I think it's best to compromise with East Asian (unless you're specifically talking about British Oriental or Asian American people). But for stories, I use whatever words are appropriate for the setting. In this case, Oriental if the story is set in the UK, and Asian if the story is set in the US.

Others will disagree though.

Rachel Udin
08-27-2012, 06:35 AM
I'd compromise in order with: Country named first (Because it does matter) Sub-region next. (East Asia, South Asia) and then if you are in a bind, by continent. 'Cause last I checked, Britain still called Asia a continent (or part of the larger continent of EurAsia)

I should note the anti-"orientals" within the US is mostly because of a few things. (Not sure if you know or don't know, but I may as well shoot it.)
1. Abuse.
*rolls eyes at people in history* This is why the first three letters of Japanese is not an acceptable term, or why the four letter c word is not an acceptable term and so on. They got loaded down with ignorant people using it as a slur. (This one should be obvious)

2. Because the original etymology of "oriental" doesn't make sense.
Whoo hoo! My history classes actually covered this several times over. "Oriental" pretty much means "the horizon" so it makes no sense. The earth is round, so it's born out of an ignorant time when people thought the world was flat. By that logic, we are all "Oriental" =P

It used to be used towards people of Persia (at that time, current Iran), Iraq, Turkey etc. And because of the paintings where the people were made to be "exotic" and "other" it's another reason it got shot down in the US. (And yes, with the complete idea that they all look the same and the tribe/country divisions didn't matter.) They also included parts of Northern Africa in that definition.

Then India was included. Then it wasn't anymore. It was strictly China. Then it was China and Japan, and Korea and Mongolia got thrown in by proxy.

With the uhh... rolling definition and some rights movements (and that whole using it as an unattractive slur), that's how it got pinned down as a word not to use.

I wouldn't, personally, be offended if it was used in a historical context and used appropriately in a book. From my White grandmother yes, because she should know better, from a book in appropriate context, no. But the connotations in the US have left the word with the idea of something permanently "exotic" which has kinda set back the Asian-American community (as in all of them) back by quite a bit (and some Northern African countries in that mix too.) Thus the bitterness...

I rather know my countries and sub groups and name it by culture to play it safe unless I'm talking about the whole group. Russians are Asian too, last I checked. =P They belong to the continent of Asia (or subcontinent--geologically Asia and Europe are attached.) We've been kinda working in the US to expand the definition of "Asian" as seen by the popular media and press.

Polenth
08-27-2012, 09:52 AM
I'd compromise in order with: Country named first (Because it does matter) Sub-region next. (East Asia, South Asia) and then if you are in a bind, by continent. 'Cause last I checked, Britain still called Asia a continent (or part of the larger continent of EurAsia)

It's not about what we call Asia. It's that in the UK, some communities self-identify as Oriental, and don't want to use Asian because it's already used by the South Asian community. When Americans try to get this changed because it's not the way the words are used in the US, it doesn't go down well. It's essentially saying to people, "You can't call yourself that in your country, because in my country, it's an insult."

So for a story set in the UK, Oriental is more likely. And in instances where a character is self-identifying, rather than identifying someone else, they may have strong views on why they use it.

crunchyblanket
08-27-2012, 12:18 PM
It's that in the UK, some communities self-identify as Oriental, and don't want to use Asian because it's already used by the South Asian community


This is part of the problem I have. I went to school in an area heavily populated by Vietnamese and Chinese people (I remember on Sundays my school was a Chinese school, which was pretty awesome when we were coming in to revise during our A-Levels - we all went away with a very basic grasp of Cantonese, but I digress) Anyway, the point is, those students expressly didn't want to be called Asian, because it would lump them in with the "Asian" students (i.e Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan) Hence Oriental, because it was a ready alternative and served as a distinction between South and East.

So for a story set here - unless we assume that the UK has given over to the US usage (I don't know how likely that is - attempts to refer to the black community as anything but black have largely gone down like a lead balloon) it's more likely that the characters would use the term 'Oriental'. At the same time, I really don't want to go offending anyone, or potentially alienate a US audience who'd look (understandably, give the context Rachel provided) askance at the term.

Cyia
08-27-2012, 03:01 PM
I really don't want to go offending anyone, or potentially alienate a US audience who'd look (understandably, give the context Rachel provided) askance at the term.

Most likely, set in the UK or not, a US copyeditor will change the word to Asian for a US version, regardless. At the very least, they'll flag it and ask if you're sure you want to keep it the way you have it.

crunchyblanket
08-27-2012, 03:42 PM
Most likely, set in the UK or not, a US copyeditor will change the word to Asian for a US version, regardless. At the very least, they'll flag it and ask if you're sure you want to keep it the way you have it.

Okay, that makes sense. Thanks :)

So just out of curiosity, how do you refer to South Asians in the US? I'm assuming we've got a far greater SA population in the UK, proportionally speaking, than over the pond.

Amadan
08-27-2012, 04:09 PM
Okay, that makes sense. Thanks :)

So just out of curiosity, how do you refer to South Asians in the US? I'm assuming we've got a far greater SA population in the UK, proportionally speaking, than over the pond.


Usually we use the country, possibly with a hyphenation (e.g., "Indian" or "Pakistani-American"). Most Americans assume "Oriental" (and "Asian" for that matter) means SE Asian.

Note that "Indian" of course has problems because you may then have to clarify whether you mean Native American or South Asian Indian.

LJD
08-27-2012, 06:01 PM
So just out of curiosity, how do you refer to South Asians in the US? I'm assuming we've got a far greater SA population in the UK, proportionally speaking, than over the pond.

I'm Canadian. In informal conversation we'd say "brown". I live in Toronto, where there is a very large South Asian population.

aruna
08-27-2012, 06:01 PM
Note that "Indian" of course has problems because you may then have to clarify whether you mean Native American or South Asian Indian.


In Guyana we solve that problem quite neatly. India-Indians (52% of the population) are called East Indians, indigenous are Amerindians.

(To confuse the matter yet more, of course, is the fact that all Guyanese are also West Indians!)

crunchyblanket
08-27-2012, 06:05 PM
I'm Canadian. In informal conversation we'd say "brown". I live in Toronto, where there is a very large South Asian population.

Interestingly enough, that's also an informal term used for Asians over here.

Amadan
08-27-2012, 07:17 PM
In Guyana we solve that problem quite neatly. India-Indians (52% of the population) are called East Indians, indigenous are Amerindians.

"Amerindian" never caught on in the U.S.

crunchyblanket
08-27-2012, 07:30 PM
"Amerindian" never caught on in the U.S.

I'm probably way off here, but we were taught at school that Indian was improper, and Native American was the correct term. Not sure why, since it's sod-all to do with us...

aruna
08-27-2012, 07:46 PM
Yes, "Indian" went out of use for a while in the US, based on the reasoning that Columbus thought he had discovered India, and so the terminology was just wrong. I don't know why and when it was rehabilitated fairly recently, I think. I remember someone posting a whole thread on the subject - and very interesting -- not too long ago.

In Guyana it's always been Amerindians.

Kitty Pryde
08-27-2012, 08:01 PM
Okay, that makes sense. Thanks :)

So just out of curiosity, how do you refer to South Asians in the US? I'm assuming we've got a far greater SA population in the UK, proportionally speaking, than over the pond.

I think Southeast Asian, or just Indian, and happily ignore the rest of the countries that a person might be from... A few people might use the word desi.

I read an English children's book published in the US, and the editor had NOT changed the word Asian to anything else. I thought it was really confusing, especially for a kid, because in the US "Asian" almost always means "Chinese, Japanese, or Korean". So there were clues and discussion of the MC's cousin being "Asian", while all the cues pointed to him being a British kid of Indian ancestry.

Cyia
08-27-2012, 08:05 PM
I think Southeast Asian, or just Indian, and happily ignore the rest of the countries that a person might be from... A few people might use the word desi.

I read an English children's book published in the US, and the editor had NOT changed the word Asian to anything else. I thought it was really confusing, especially for a kid, because in the US "Asian" almost always means "Chinese, Japanese, or Korean". So there were clues and discussion of the MC's cousin being "Asian", while all the cues pointed to him being a British kid of Indian ancestry.

This is sadly true. There are far too many people who think of Asia a country, rather than a continent. (The same happens with Africa.) Asia's a country, and India's a country, so Indians can't be Asian. *headdesk*

Rachel Udin
08-27-2012, 09:02 PM
Most likely, set in the UK or not, a US copyeditor will change the word to Asian for a US version, regardless. At the very least, they'll flag it and ask if you're sure you want to keep it the way you have it.
I agree. After all, look at some of the changes to the Harry Potter books. For books, etc. I wouln't be too uptight. For forums, you probably want to be more selective.

Plus there is that pesky rule about calling yourself something and reclaiming terms, versus exogenous groups calling you something. (N-word, for example...)

crunchyblanket
08-27-2012, 10:07 PM
I agree. After all, look at some of the changes to the Harry Potter books. For books, etc. I wouln't be too uptight. For forums, you probably want to be more selective.

Oh, it's not a term I'd use on a forum. I remember the first time I got chewed out for using it (many moons ago on another forum) I had no idea it was an insulting term in the US, and they had no idea it was normal usage in the UK, and it was a bit of a mess, frankly. I steer clear now to be safe.


I think Southeast Asian, or just Indian, and happily ignore the rest of the countries that a person might be from... A few people might use the word desi.

See, that's fascinating to me, because here if you used the term Indian you'd probably end up putting a lot of people's noses out of joint. Pakistani people particularly resent being called Indian (I think it stems back to the whole Kashmir thing)



I read an English children's book published in the US, and the editor had NOT changed the word Asian to anything else. I thought it was really confusing, especially for a kid, because in the US "Asian" almost always means "Chinese, Japanese, or Korean". So there were clues and discussion of the MC's cousin being "Asian", while all the cues pointed to him being a British kid of Indian ancestry.

It seems bizarre they wouldn't change the terms to be more recognisable...you'd think they'd do their research before presenting the story to an overseas audience.

Amadan
08-27-2012, 10:57 PM
Yes, "Indian" went out of use for a while in the US, based on the reasoning that Columbus thought he had discovered India, and so the terminology was just wrong. I don't know why and when it was rehabilitated fairly recently, I think. I remember someone posting a whole thread on the subject - and very interesting -- not too long ago.


The problem, from what I can tell, is that it was mostly well-meaning white people insisting that "Indian" was no longer PC, while Indians continued to use the word and had no interest in labeling themselves "Amerindians."

backslashbaby
08-27-2012, 11:58 PM
Yeah, Indians here had been calling themselves Indian long enough that many didn't feel like changing it for someone else. OTOH, you'll meet many Native Americans who will skewer you for using the term 'Indian' :D To be safe when you don't know the folks, use Native American, imho. Or even better, use their tribe's name in its own language.

For Asians in the UK usage, I usually say 'Indian or Pakistani', etc. I mean I literally throw out the most probable choices if I don't know the exact culture.

Asians in the US usage is harder for me. That's such an enormous range of folks! And if you guess wrong, it could offend. I do still usually say 'she looks Chinese or Korean' or 'Japanese or Pacific Islander', etc.

If you know the actual culture, always use that, imho. Folks don't liked to be lumped together if it's possible not to (which it isn't always, of course).

LJD
08-28-2012, 04:58 AM
Asians in the US usage is harder for me. That's such an enormous range of folks! And if you guess wrong, it could offend. I do still usually say 'she looks Chinese or Korean' or 'Japanese or Pacific Islander', etc.

If you know the actual culture, always use that, imho. Folks don't liked to be lumped together if it's possible not to (which it isn't always, of course).

My mom's family is from China, but I rarely call myself (half)-Chinese. Always half-Asian. Or I'll say that my grandparents are from China.

I don't speak Cantonese or Mandarin, and I feel very little connection to the Chinese community here. My mom, who was Canadian-born, didn't either.

So I actually prefer the less specific term. To me, it's on par with saying "white", which also lumps a whole lot of people together :)

Rachel Udin
08-28-2012, 06:27 AM
Canadians call their indigenous groups by "First Nations." So I usually group that way, "Native Americans and First Nations' people have many tribes," for example.

Because of the inherent idiocy in the US (directed towards those who like to auto-make slurs), Asian has come to mean a wider population and I really stick to my guns to keep the term open to not just East Asian because it annoys Indians (at least the friends I run into) when they are told outright that India isn't in Asia. =P Then where is it? (I have a youtube video supporting this too)

Usually it is better to honor the individual group first. Because, personally, I dislike people assuming Korean culture is exactly like Japan and the general mixing up of culture (Also being called a slur when it was created for another ethnicity because of the assumption we all are the same--though slurs in general disgust me.) And I'm all for honoring the other people who belong to the continent of Asia as being part of that continent rather than buckling into popular culture--most likely because I know the origins of those thoughts, and buckling to those thoughts kind of leave a sick feeling in my mouth.

If I'm not sure of what ethnicity a person is, I either wait for them to tell me (because it really doesn't matter so much) or I ask. It's usually safer, I think if you wait for them to offer it. Because really, ethnicity really doesn't tell *who* a person is deep down. You won't get to know what kind of choices they will ultimately make. Their culture *may* influence them, but it won't inform you automatically if they will follow those so-called "rules." And I'm more interested in who people are more than where they are from. I don't blind guess anymore unless I seriously know. (An Ajumma perm, saying aigoo, wearing bright patterned clothes. Harsh back-of-the-throat sound--Korean. No doubt. =P Koreans will get that in-joke.)

aruna
08-28-2012, 09:18 AM
I remember once reading a book by Elizabeth George (I think it was Deception in His Mind) which takes place partly among the Pakistani community of London or Bristol or somewhere inthe UK.
She kept using the term Asian to refer to them. And she even had them refer to themselves as "Asian", as in "We Asians blahblahblah." That felt so utterly wrong. I don't actually know any British Pakistanis (or Pakistanis in Britain) but I really can't imagine them referring to themselves as Asians. Susrely they'd call themselves what they are -- Pakistanis? Would an Italian, Englishman, Frenchman, Spaniard, refr to himself as European in a novel, or in real life? I rather doubt. It's funny how that one little niggling point made me hate the book!

Purple Rose
08-28-2012, 10:19 AM
... And she even had them refer to themselves as "Asian", as in "We Asians blahblahblah." That felt so utterly wrong. I don't actually know any British Pakistanis (or Pakistanis in Britain) but I really can't imagine them referring to themselves as Asians. Susrely they'd call themselves what they are -- Pakistanis? Would an Italian, Englishman, Frenchman, Spaniard, refr to himself as European in a novel, or in real life? I rather doubt. It's funny how that one little niggling point made me hate the book!

Totally agree with this and I have seen such annoying references many times. To me it just shows up the ignorance or sheer stupidity of the writer.

As a Singaporean-Indian, I find the whole idea of "South Asian", coined by the Americans, I believe, so strange. Ok, i get that Native Americans were called Indians but not any more and not for a long time. Besides, as someone pointed out, they were wrongly "labelled" in the first place because Columbus wrongly thought he was in India!

My ethnic origin is India so why can't I be referred to as Indian in America? Every Indian refers to another Indian as "Indian" or, more affectionately, "desi". And I don't have a problem with being called "Asian" if people just know I'm from Asia because, after all, I'm also Southeast Asian, like millions of ethnic Chinese and Indians who have lived in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Phillippines for years, sometimes several generations.

Personally, I find "brown" extremely offensive. This is the first I'm hearing it. I know of Indian who are whiter than white and have green eyes. They are not white, just Indian. My paternal grandmother on the other hand, was black as the night. Not black, just Indian.

"People of Colour" I just find laughable. It's political correctness gone too far, to my very Asian sense of reality.

I must say that as an Asian, I have often used "We Asians ..." with my half-Scottish daughters when referring to certain typically Asian practices, for instance "We Asians would never allow our children to refer to an older person by first name" when teaching them to address all our friends and even strangers as "Aunty" or "Uncle" and until they were about ten, an older kid was "Jie Jie" or "Go Go" and "Didi" or "Bhaya" (Chinese and Hindi respectively for big sister or brother) even though they were not our relatives.

So yes, while no-one really says "We Asians...", I sometimes do just to remind my children that they are also Asian, not just Indian :D

Ultimately is boils down to context.

Amadan
08-28-2012, 04:36 PM
Usually it is better to honor the individual group first. Because, personally, I dislike people assuming Korean culture is exactly like Japan and the general mixing up of culture (Also being called a slur when it was created for another ethnicity because of the assumption we all are the same--though slurs in general disgust me.) And I'm all for honoring the other people who belong to the continent of Asia as being part of that continent rather than buckling into popular culture--most likely because I know the origins of those thoughts, and buckling to those thoughts kind of leave a sick feeling in my mouth.

I've known a lot of Asians who referred to themselves as Asian-Americans, though. (They would of course be more specific in the right context, e.g. Korean-American or Chinese-American), but when talking group politics, people in the US tend to say white, black, Asian, Indian, Hispanic, etc., even though all those groups ellide a large number of individual groups.

I'll also use whichever label someone asks me to use, when speaking to that person. I just remain mindful that no one speaks for their entire group. If someone says to me "Don't use [term x]," I interpret it as "This person doesn't like that term," not "Do not ever use that term."

(Now if I know there is a consensus among that group that term x is offensive, particularly if it's a term with a pretty established history of being no longer acceptable, then I don't use it.)


As a Singaporean-Indian, I find the whole idea of "South Asian", coined by the Americans, I believe, so strange. Ok, i get that Native Americans were called Indians but not any more and not for a long time.

Actually, Native Americans still commonly refer to themselves as Indians.

Purple Rose
08-28-2012, 05:01 PM
Actually, Native Americans still commonly refer to themselves as Indians.

Thanks for this information, Amadan, I really didn't know this. I thought they stopped using this word when "Native Americans" became widely used. Now I know better! Still, I always say I am Singaporean-Indian when people in America ask me where I'm from. Nationality-before-race, instead of the race-before-nationality sequence used in most other place eg Chinese-American, British-Indian, French-Algerian, etc. Probably propaganda drilled into me since I was in school (Singapore is only 47 years old) to be proud of being Singaporean.

I was also wondering, why can't people just say "non-white" instead of "People of Colour" because isn't that what they (presumably white people who come up with such terms) really mean? Especially as white people are probably the minority in the world these days when you include the populations of Asia, Middle East, Africa and Central and South America. These places have people in every shade of non-white, not necessarily a colour.

aruna
08-28-2012, 05:55 PM
I was also wondering, why can't people just say "non-white" instead of "People of Colour" because isn't that what they (presumably white people who come up with such terms) really mean? Especially as white people are probably the minority in the world these days when you include the populations of Asia, Middle East, Africa and Central and South America. These places have people in every shade of non-white, not necessarily a colour.

I actually do use the term non-white. Just about always!

LJD
08-28-2012, 06:31 PM
Personally, I find "brown" extremely offensive. This is the first I'm hearing it. I know of Indian who are whiter than white and have green eyes. They are not white, just Indian. My paternal grandmother on the other hand, was black as the night. Not black, just Indian.

I started hearing it in high school (10-15 years ago). This is how many of my peers would refer to themselves. These were people who were usually Canadian-born (or came here quite young) but whose families were originally from India. Not uncommonly, their parents and perhaps grandparents were not born in India, but places like Kenya, Qatar, and Fiji.

The use of Asian to refer to only a subset of people from Asia doesn't bother me. It's not ideal, but there really isn't another term to use as "Oriental" has fallen out of favor here, and I often want to refer to a broader group than Chinese-Candians. (Somewhat similarly, "American" is used to refer to people from the US, not anywhere in the Americas.)

I never use "non-white." It's awful awkward if you're of mixed race...I couldn't call myself non-white. Often "visible minorities" is used here, but in Toronto, so-called visible minorities are about half the population.

Rachel Udin
08-28-2012, 10:30 PM
Ah, just historical context, rather than a position...

Where did People of Color come from?
http://www.pattyhume.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/black-and-colored-drinking-water1.jpg

Pretty much that. I see PoC as a reclaiming of the terms "coloreds" which is an American history (or why people can be stupid 101: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_ethnic_slurs)

It was kind of reclaimed and then people tagged "people" on it because it was supposed to be for general use, so humans, once again, had to remind other humans that they are humans too.

It's kind of the similar vein with "Adopted persons" v. "Adoptee". Adoptee got abused, so the community tagged on "person" on top. You'll see this with other terms too. Though some terms just stay reclaimed within the community, banning exogenous groups from using it. C-word referring to Chinese, G-word referring to Koreans, (J-word hasn't gotten there), and the N-word are good examples.

Abuse of language towards people turns it into slurs, which make people try to remind other people they are human too.

Personally, I find "non-white" acknowledging white as the dominant class and the whole point from my PoV is to change that and the idea that white==default. I'd like it when someone reads an unmarked character to ask: "So what gender, skin color, ethnicity, religion are they?"

As for color and India--from what I *understand* (which probably isn't the whole truth) there is still color grading a bit in India. (or at least historically) Is that wrong?

US-side though, color grading will happen within groups, which is just stupid. I'm guessing Kitty can talk about this better than I can (because she has), so I'll leave off on the African-American side, but its true in Korea. If a girl is born with darker skin, say in Korea, China (not sure about Japan), then they are considered undesirable. Also East Asians get freckles... some of us do, and that's also a sign of a "dishonest woman" which is part of the Chinese lore on beauty.

This is to say, it's not a matter of numbers (See women) it's a matter of who holds the power. Minority is more defined on power grades than it is on sheer numbers. Otherwise women would be paid fair amounts to men. (Women hold 51% of the population) (Thank you Ethnic Studies and Anthropology Class) In simpler terms: Who holds the biggest weapons?

mirandashell
08-28-2012, 10:35 PM
I don't like saying 'non-white' because that sounds like white is the default.

I don't really like using colour at all, to be honest. 'Black' I do use cos there isn't really another word that isn't either offensive or loaded.

'Brown' isn't something I've heard and would be wary of saying. In Britain, we say 'you're very brown!' when a white person comes back from holiday with a tan so..... it would feel odd referring to an Asian person as brown.

As for Asian, over here it's used as a catch-all because of the problems inherent in calling someone Indian if they aren't. Due to the history between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, using the wrong one can get you in a shit load of trouble.

Satsya
08-29-2012, 04:36 AM
From a California, U.S.A. perspective:

'White' for non-first generation of northern European descent. 'Black' for those of African descent raised in a western culture. Aside from that, it's considered proper to find out the person's specific ethnicity, or at least a more specific general term.

Examples: Mexican, Laotian, Samoan, Indian (for those from India), Native American, Vietnamese/Chinese (if mixed).

'Asian' is only used if you have no idea what the person's ethnicity is, but they look eastern Asian (such as Filipino, Japanese, Korean, or Chinese). It's basically a crude, lazy catch-all. Most people are proud to say their ethnicity if you ask, so it's usually quickly displaced by a more specific term.

I've never heard anyone use 'brown' or 'non-white'. Agree that 'non-white' makes it sound like white is the default -- which here, it isn't. 'Oriental' is outdated and offensive, as are most other older American terms for blacks.

Purple Rose
08-29-2012, 04:55 AM
Personally, I find "non-white" acknowledging white as the dominant class and the whole point from my PoV is to change that and the idea that white==default.

As for color and India--from what I *understand* (which probably isn't the whole truth) there is still color grading a bit in India. (or at least historically) Is that wrong?

As the colour lines and bars were drawn by whites in the first place, I found non-white to be the logical description for "The Rest of Humanity". Didn't think about "non-white" as acknowledgement of them being the dominant class but now that you mention it, I can see your point very clearly. Still, I will probably continue using "non-white" out of habit and because it is common and acceptable in Asia.


I don't really like using colour at all, to be honest. 'Black' I do use cos there isn't really another word that isn't either offensive or loaded.

I'm the same but I tend to use "Black" only for Africans outside Africa. In Asia or in Africa, I tend to say "African" because they are almost always from Ghana or Nigeria.



'Brown' isn't something I've heard and would be wary of saying. In Britain, we say 'you're very brown!' when a white person comes back from holiday with a tan so..... it would feel odd referring to an Asian person as brown.

Yes, this is common and normal to me. Even as a brown-skinned, sallow-toned person, I hear such comments when I've been in the sun. It is always a compliment made with reference to my newly-glowing skin which lasts for a week, tops. Nothing to do with my ethnicity.



As for Asian, over here it's used as a catch-all because of the problems inherent in calling someone Indian if they aren't. Due to the history between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, using the wrong one can get you in a shit load of trouble.

Very true, so I don't have a problem with being referred to as Asian. This is understandable especially in Commonwealth countries but the average American may not understand without knowing the history. Hence the use of "South Asian" to lump us all together while separating us from the Asians from the Far East.

My children who are in university in England describe themselves as half Scottish-half Indian, a bit of a mouthful but they are happy to say so when people ask. They are clearly neither all white nor all Asian. Unlike aruna's experience in Germany, students in Bristol and Exeter (where my girls study) are curious and they like that for reasons aruna mentioned.

Rachel Udin
08-29-2012, 05:32 AM
@Satsya "Asian" has also been used in ties with India, Thailand, Hmong, Laos, etc.. or at least among my community.... "East Asian" tends to be more of an assumption, I think from the East Coast or White community, though the local indie bookstores groups everything in "Asia" in the "Asian" section, but then the bookstore tends towards liberal. Not true in your part of the world?

Oh and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (http://aapress.com/community/government/capac-applauds-mou/) includes all. US-based.

Satsya
08-29-2012, 08:41 AM
@Satsya "Asian" has also been used in ties with India, Thailand, Hmong, Laos, etc.. or at least among my community.... "East Asian" tends to be more of an assumption, I think from the East Coast or White community, though the local indie bookstores groups everything in "Asia" in the "Asian" section, but then the bookstore tends towards liberal. Not true in your part of the world?

Oh and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (http://aapress.com/community/government/capac-applauds-mou/) includes all. US-based.

I bet at this level it starts to vary a lot from local community to local community.

Where I grew up, there are many first and second-generations from Thailand and Laos. Their catch-all term would be 'Asian'.

On the other hand, there are almost no Indians here. I...honestly don't know what they'd be called, aside from Indian. We do have many Pakistanis, but it would not occur to me to call them 'Asian'. I guess the catch-all term for that region and west of there would be 'Middle Eastern', but as with Asians, usually a specific country is named.

So here, 'Asian' pretty much means 'East Asian', including the area between China and Australia, regardless of ethnicity of the speaker (most of the people I've heard talk about this subject are East Asian, so I know it's not just the white community that refers to them this way).

It's an odd subject to think about. I'd never given the labels this much thought.

aruna
08-29-2012, 08:48 AM
I use non-white when I am speaking/arguing in cases where white IS the default.
In most other cases I use black. In Guyana, black and brown is the default. White is the exception. There, we use the terms African, Indian, Chinese, Amerindian, Portuguese. Note that Portuguese does not count as white. We are extremely specific. Now we have two new terms: Brazilian and Venezuelan, due to the influx of people from those countries.
I never ever use African American.