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The cashier called DS "Oriental." UPDATE post #73 - Page 2

post #21 of 99
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
Cute baby! No matter what he's called...

At least she didn't ask which country you adopted him from or simply asked "Where did you get him?"

I heard people in Asia say "half Japanese (or whatever), half American" to meaning that the person was half white. I tactfully corrected them, every time. Funny as I have met Asian-Americans married to Europeans and Asian-Americans with husbands and wives from their parents' country. I even had a Korean-American coworker whose husband was Korean-Japanese. Yeah, all they're kids are "half" American lol! (like the U.S. State Dept. gives out half passports).
LOL Pearl... Once, we all went out to Dim Sum for New Years. It was busy, obviously, and my dh and in-laws said, "Wow, there are a lot of Americans here." I actually said, "You know, I know you mean white people. DH, you were born in SC and raised in VA, and MIL and FIL, you both are citizens, you all are just as American as me!" lol

I wonder how I'm going to act when I get the first "Where'd you get him?" question.

I doubt everyone is offended by the term Oriental. I was just taught, when I was younger, that it was inappropriate. And my DH reinforced that, although it's not like a horrible racial slur.
post #22 of 99
I had no clue people would take offense to it...especially since a co-worker of mine refers to himself as oriental.
post #23 of 99
if you want to know why it is offensive:
http://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Orientalism.html
post #24 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
I'm another person who is from Hawaii and grew up with the term "Oriental." My Japanese family members use it, still.

And to be honest, I'm still not sure what's wrong with the term. I only heard of it being a no-no within the past decade, but nobody can tell me why. I don't really see how it's any different from saying someone is Asian. Or why it's offensive to say someone is a "colored person," but it's okay to say "person of color."
I am all for calling people whatever they prefer to be called - just wanted to get that clear.
But I think that ethnic/racial terms go through phases of acceptance and use and then go out of favor because people perceive that negative/oppressive/bigoted attitudes are associated with the words.
I think the attitudes are generally independent of the words we use to describe people.

I just don't get the issue with getting offended over terms when people obviously are trying to be friendly. Sheesh, aren't there real issues in the world?

Melinda
post #25 of 99
OP, your son is adorable. I *did* know that the term oriental was offensive but as seen in this thread, many people do not. Hindsight is 20/20 but I'd use it as a chance to lightly educate. Maybe say that phrase about the rugs and people?

FWIW, my son is blended also (black & white). No one can tell what he is and some do ask. I have no problem with it as long as it's asked repsectfully.
post #26 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post
I heard people in Asia say "half Japanese (or whatever), half American" to meaning that the person was half white. I tactfully corrected them, every time. Funny as I have met Asian-Americans married to Europeans and Asian-Americans with husbands and wives from their parents' country. I even had a Korean-American coworker whose husband was Korean-Japanese. Yeah, all they're kids are "half" American lol! (like the U.S. State Dept. gives out half passports).
This is interesting... I occasionally describe our kids as 'half-American' simply because they have dual nationality!

In our cultural context 'Oriental' is never used unless describing household furnishings. Asian is the norm, & if you want to be specific you can refer to the country (ie. Japanese, Thai, etc.) or more generically 'South-East Asian', 'South Asian' or 'North Asian'.
post #27 of 99
I was always taught that the phrase "oriental" was to reference objects like rugs. Not a person.
post #28 of 99
saw wha? We always use that term, and Asian too as well.

Heck, practically the first thing my family did after DD was born was analyze to see if she had any asian features. We're always saying "oh look at that asian nose" or "look at that irish hair"

Fortunately I don't think I've ever said it to a random stranger. Phew.
post #29 of 99
First off I want to say that your LO is gorgeous. My little girl, Mei Li Jade Wang is half Chinese as well. We'll be welcoming her into the world in July. Already co-workers have been making fun of my Asian/Caucasian baby saying things like why not name her wah-mei (a popular Chinese restaurant here in town) instead of Mei Li. It really pissed me off but I need my job so I didn't make a big deal about it. However, if a random stranger said aw look at your oriental baby I'd say something. I would at least let her know I'm his mom and I'm white so obviously my baby isn't "oriental" and I would use my fingers to accentuate the parenthesis around the word oriental. Without correction she's just going to go on using the term oriental until someone is going to get seriously offended and physically straighten her out. At the very least I would nicely have pointed out that oriental is a derogatory term like the word "colored".
post #30 of 99
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BabyWang2010 View Post
First off I want to say that your LO is gorgeous. My little girl, Mei Li Jade Wang is half Chinese as well. We'll be welcoming her into the world in July. Already co-workers have been making fun of my Asian/Caucasian baby saying things like why not name her wah-mei (a popular Chinese restaurant here in town) instead of Mei Li.

Without correction she's just going to go on using the term oriental until someone is going to get seriously offended and physically straighten her out. At the very least I would nicely have pointed out that oriental is a derogatory term like the word "colored".
Congratulations on your little girl! Mei Li is a beautiful name! My ds middle name is Jiwai.

I'm sorry they are being insensitive. I agree that I def need to say something next time. I can just imagine what people would say if a cashier had said, "All, look at your baby, looking all cute and colored and all!"

Hurtful is hurtful.
post #31 of 99
It is hurtful, but please do know that the general understanding that the term is hurtful is not as widespread as the understanding of colored. I'm really glad you posted here as I myself know that I just needed one person to tell me and I was happy to change my vocabulary, but to this woman who did not know she had no idea she was being offensive. I know it's not anyone's "job" to teach everyone else, but if you are up for it once in a while a simple "Things are Oriental, People are Asian" or "Did you know that Oriental is an offensive term for Asians such as Colored is for African Americans?" would do a whole lot for people like me who had no idea. I hope this cahsier was in that category and did not mean it in a hurtful way,
post #32 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharon, RN View Post
Congratulations on your little girl! Mei Li is a beautiful name! My ds middle name is Jiwai.

I'm sorry they are being insensitive. I agree that I def need to say something next time. I can just imagine what people would say if a cashier had said, "All, look at your baby, looking all cute and colored and all!"

Hurtful is hurtful.
Thanks, your sons middle name is lovely. Me and my hubby's (we tied the knot yesterday, valentines day) middle names both start with a "J". I'm Sarah Jane and he is Mark Jinde.

It is hurtful to hear these comments. I wanted to cry when my co-worker made comments cause we've always gotten along so well but not so much anymore. I think sometimes ppl are angry/jealous because they've always believed and been taught that interracial relationships are wrong and our beautiful babies are a testament to the fact that it's not wrong. So they get jealous or angry and make racial slurs. However, I think the cashier was just ignorant and didn't know oriental is a racial slur.
post #33 of 99
I couldn't read and not comment on how adorable your DS is!

Thats bizarre though.. for the lady to have repeated herself.

I'm ignorant to this topic so I'll just read and take notes and learn some! Sorry you had that experience OP
post #34 of 99
I do think it's probably less commonly known as an offensive term than "colored" would be. At least in our area. Ignorance of current correct terms is very common, especially as they change every few years.

I would give a person the benefit of the doubt and not assume they were being mean. I have only run into two people in the course of knowing dh and having biracial babies with him who said something referring to race out of meanness or ill-intent. Everyone else who's said something that could be offensive was just clueless/ignorant, and totally well-meaning. Some people may also have non-obvious mental health issues that impair their social understandings or result in them blurting stuff out that other people might think through before saying.
post #35 of 99
You know, my problem with it would be less the term "Oriental," but that he's cute BECAUSE he's asian. That's just weird. I'm mean, even if she had said "Look athim sitting there all cute and Asian" it would be offensive to me. How else is he supposed to look, right?
post #36 of 99
OP, your LO is beyond adorable!

a dozen or so years ago i was a nanny for an infant girl who was chinese-american (well, actually both her parents were born in the US, so maybe she was just american-american...and since i dont know exactly what the ethic origins of her dad were, maybe she was chinese-norwegian or something, who know?) anyway, i would take her out with me and my then-toddler ds who is bi-racial (italian/croatian/scotch/irish/french/haitian mother and jamaican/trinny father, but that takes too long so we just say half black half white) and oh! the stares we would get LOL

i would never use a term if i had the slightest notion of it being offensive, but FWIW, i would not be the least bit put off if someone from an asian country refered to me as "occidental". to me, it would be nothing more than geography, yk?

and since i am not able to differentiate between chinese/japanese/korean, etc, i would much rather use an all-inclusive term such as asian, meaning "one who comes from, or whose ancestors came from, the continent of asia" or oriental, meaning "one who comes from a land further to the east than the land from which i originate". my father lived in thailand for many years (white guy LOL) and could tell the difference between the different asian...uh-oh...races? ethnicities? nationalities? i have lived a very sheltered life here in my part of the world, and i generally cannot.

i think i have said asian rather than oriental simply bc of the generation of which i am a part, but if that was not so, i would still refrain from using a word which i knew would offend others.
post #37 of 99
The feeling that "oriental" is offensive is pretty new, in the past no one cared. As far as that goes, there was a time and place when "colored" was considered a perfectly acceptable term.

My DH doesn't mind it. We're older, and grew up in a time when no one objected to it. Since he's had a classical education he knows doesn't specifically refer to rugs any more than the term "irish" specifically refers to pubs. Heck when we were growing up people still used "yellow" to describe Asians and Asian-Americans, so "oriental was a huge step up from that (never mind my knowledge of a few terms I won't repeat.)

Really what makes a word offensive or not is how it's used. I once had a co-worker who we all referred to as "a boy." He happened to be a lot younger than the 2 other guys who work in the shop with a bunch of women, so he was "the boy" in the group. He also happened to be a very dark skinned and Hispanic. One day a woman came in and was getting help from me and suggest that I "send the boy" to get something for her instead of getting it myself. I was not his boss and it wasn't his responsibility and there was nothing that should have lead her believe such. The way and the tone she used to refer to him as "the boy" was extremely offensive. The words "the boy" are not offensive, but can be used in an offensive manner.

Oriental in and of itself is not an offensive term. It is important to consider intent and attitude before getting too worked up.

I would simply comment on it being kind of outdated. Heck, if we ever go to visit China we will probably fly west instead of east.
post #38 of 99
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
I'm another person who is from Hawaii and grew up with the term "Oriental." My Japanese family members use it, still.

And to be honest, I'm still not sure what's wrong with the term. I only heard of it being a no-no within the past decade, but nobody can tell me why. I don't really see how it's any different from saying someone is Asian. Or why it's offensive to say someone is a "colored person," but it's okay to say "person of color."

Anyway, your baby is adorable, OP.
One of the reasons why "person of color" is preferable to "colored person" is the rise in "person first" terminology. That means that the person comes first not the label, because we are all people first. This is especially prevalent when discussing people with disabilities. I teach in a school for students with special needs, and students are referred to as a child with mental retardation as opposed to a retarded child, or a student who uses a wheelchair as opposed to a wheelchair student.

To Sharon:
As far as the cashier is concerned:
Also being a teacher who works with students who can easily pass for neurotypical until you really start into a conversation with them, and knowing that many of my students transition into jobs at walmart, or other cashier roles, I'd like to offer up the possibility that perhaps the cashier may have been a person with a disability. I'm not by any means saying all cashiers have disabilities, just that there are lots of people in this world and we shouldn't assume that everyone has the same ability to process and reclassify information. I always try to imagine how would I want someone to handle this situation if the person who upset me were one of "my" kids.

oh and btw your ds is too cute for words!
post #39 of 99
I think the reason "oriental" is offensive is because it implies that the person is from the "east", meaning the person is not from here. It implies that a person is foreign or exotic. It's not specific. "Oriental" could mean African, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc. Basically anything that isn't Northern European. In fact, in music and art "orientalism" refers to a composer or artist using any foreign influences in their works. Operas like Aida and Madama Butterfly are both "Oriental", even though one is about an Ethiopian princess and the other is about a Japanese geisha.
To the op- I would write a very non-confrontational letter to the store and ask them to educate their employees about ethnic sensitivity. I'm sure that the woman didn't mean to offend you, but she should learn not to refer to a child's ethnic origin. It's rude and offensive.
You have such a cute baby!
post #40 of 99
for what it is worth, in the UK, Asian generally means someone from the Indian subcontinent or Pakistan. I believe they use the term Oriental or far east asian to refer to folks from China, Japan, Korean, or South East Asian for Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, etc.
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