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A better term than "half" or "part" for biracial children...

post #1 of 77
Thread Starter 

Okay I am at a loss. I loathe the terms "half caucasian" and "part African" (for example). Part is moderately nicer sounding than half, but they both just don't sit right with me. I mean technically my children's heritage is 'half' one thing and half the other.  but I just don't like describing a human being that way. 

 

How do you describe your child's ethnic heritage without using these words?

 

I mean in situations where people specifically ask you what their background is. I just can't seem to think of a better way to say it. (can I blame lingering pregnancy brain? orngtongue.gif).

 

And if you do purposefully use those two terms, what is your reasoning for it? And why is it your preference? And why doesn't it bother you?

post #2 of 77
You could just say she's this and that. No halves, no parts. I tend to state nationality myself, like Japanese-American or Brazilian-Canadian or Eastern European and African or whatev...People don't usually ask for my kid's race unless it's a demographic form at the hospital or something.
post #3 of 77

Well, since people asking me IRL can see me (and thus know I'm white), I usually just say "My husband is Ethiopian".

 

My youngest recently has been saying "I'm from both 'states'", and will clarify Ethiopia and America if asked.

post #4 of 77

That's what I do, too -- when people ask, I say "their father is Japanese." 

post #5 of 77

It doesn't bother me. I'm half black and half white, to put it simply, but I have multiple ethnicities on both sides,ranging from AFrican to Hispanic to various European ancestries. But I often say I'm half black and half white, or I will say, "I'm a mutt" or I will even joke with my friends that I'm an open faced oreo.

 

I grew up around racism so I guess the sting/shock/offensiveness has been taken out of those words or phrases for me. Llikewise I am in the class of people that thinks it's ok for black people to use the n-word, but not white people. I know it is ignorant and biased and totaly politically incorrect, but my upbringing has irreparably colored my views, I think.

 

As far as my kids,sometimes when people ask me, I will retort, "why do you need to know." If I'm feeling nice I will usually say, "oh, you know, they're a bunch of stuff, they've got melting pots/mutts/ for parents, so, you know..." vaguely. My dd alone is like 6 different ethnicities and ds has a different bio father so his ethnicities are somewhat different from her. I'm not going to repeat that novel to every Tom Dick and Harry who stops me in the street to determine the reaason that my baby has so much straight hair.

post #6 of 77

I call myself eurasian.  Or "White and Japanese" if people ask for specifics (I don't find this offensive).  When describing my very white looking children in the context of heritage, I do say "part Japanese."  It just seems the easiest, since while people normally can tell a little bit when looking at me if they know it, it is not at all apparent in my kids.  For myself there is the added complication that I simply do not know anything but "German-American" from my biological father's side of the family so I could have ten other things in there as well and have no idea, so I go with the catch-all "white".

 

While my heritage was denied me until I was a young adult, my kids are proud of it, and will state that they are part Japanese as well.

 

I guess I don't understand why part or half would be offensive?  It is what it is, IMO.  Some people don't like to talk about heritage or culture or race--is that part of it?  For me, I enjoy knowing at least what little I can know about my heritage, and I don't mind sharing it with others.  I am on the flip side though--nobody would ever suspect my kids of having Japanese blood relatives unless I told them, so it's not used as a means to point them out about how different they are.

 

Anyway, I don't think any term is "better" than half or part if that's what the person wants, nor do I think half or part is "better" if the person would like something more specific OR more general (eurasian to me is pretty general, Japanese-German-Cajun is very specific.  half-whatever is...well...halfway between.  LOL!!!)

post #7 of 77
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure why it offends me. I think because of the term "Half-caste" which was (and still is by racists) used to describe aboriginal people who had some white parentage in the colonial days. If you read the second paragraph here it specifically mentions the use in Australia. Something about having to describe anything non-white about them as being 'half', I really don't know it just seems derogatory to me. They are a whole person, not white and half something else. They are the two races together one is not superior. 

 

For what its worth I was always offended growing up when people referred to my brothers (who have a different mother) as my half-brothers. Though that is a totally different thing orngtongue.gif ...But they weren't half anything, they were completely fully my real brothers. 

 

Waiting2bemommy- If my child as an adult decides they are comfortable describing themselves that way it is absolutely fine with me. However me assigning that term to them now, which I feel is in some way derogatory is a very different thing, especially as I am white myself. If I was also mixed race and decided to call my kids that then I would be coming from a place of understanding.

 

Oka-San + CappucinosMom- The line "his father is (insert race)" doesn't work for us as my children were conceived by a donor. And we don't refer to our donor as 'father'. And I don't particularly want to get into conversations about how my children were conceived with strangers at the park, eyesroll.gif kwim? Its hard enough to dodge it as it is with the kinds of questions strangers always ask me, without being blatant about it. 

 

La Mamita-  I consider myself American and Australian as my mom is American and dad Australian, so that makes 3 nationalities to add together and explain and it becomes a bit of a mouthful. I could just say Caucasian instead I guess, but sounds a bit formal for the kinds of discussions/people where it comes up. But still better than saying half smile.gif

post #8 of 77

what about saying "a mix of x and y and z" or whatever. 

post #9 of 77

I would avoid the word "Caucasian" unless your background is really from the Caucasus Mountains. It sounds like a euphemism for "white". No harm using the word "white". No need to make it sound exotic, especially if that's not your (or your child's) origins! 

 

Also, Eurasian is controversial. I would use it only if the person in question were really a European national. 

 

A lot of people I know just say "mixed". "I'm X & Y mixed..." or name it afterwards. Using portions is not that evil but often it's not really accurate. I say I'm "mixed" but in my case, it's not race but background. Most of us can say that about ourselves! 

post #10 of 77



Eh?  So if someone knows their heritage is predominantly Swedish and Chinese, but they have an American passport, they can't use the word eurasian?  Does that mean that an American can never say "oh, I'm Chinese" when someone mistakenly misidentifies their heritage as Vietnamese?  Seems kind of ridiculous to me. 

 

As we can see, everything is controversial.  In some parts of the US saying "mixed" is really flavored with racism.  Half is probably never going to be completely accurate.  Biracial might be okay, but i'm sure some people don't like that term.  using hapa if you're not Hawaiian is cultural appropriation.  And for those of us of multiple heritages, saying, "oh, I'm a mix of blah blab and blah might lead to a really long list.  In addition i always felt weird including country/states as part of my heritage on par with "race".  My white ancestors came from europe.  My non-white ones came from asia.  Simple.  As opposed to describing myself as German-Japanese-Cajun-GodKnowsWhatElse-raised-in-a-Irish-Italian-Scottish-Belgian-family.  :P

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post

 

Also, Eurasian is controversial. I would use it only if the person in question were really a European national. 

  

post #11 of 77

Interesting, Logan -- I can totally see where you wouldn’t want to get into that conversation with strangers! Maybe you could use the language that’s appearing here in this thread, such as “They are of X and Y heritage/ancestry/background” – that’s neutral, and descriptive, and means you don’t have to get into exactly how they came by that heritage.

post #12 of 77

I say "my dad is X" if it comes up. I was born in his country, so sometimes it comes up even if people don't notice that I look "mixed".  (As a side note, in my Dad's country it was very very obvious that I am mixed because of my coloring)

 

I have noticed from my experience and this thread that all of this is less awkward when ethnicity and nationality are one and the same....probably because then you are able to talk about yourself and your children in terms that aren't purely racial. For ME I think it might be more annoying to discuss my ethnicity or that of my kiddos if both sides of my family had been in America for generations, but who knows.

 

My dad would not refer to my mom as "white." In Latin America they refer to people like her as "Anglo" I am unaware of the derogatory or negative associations of that word but I have always rather liked the precision of referring to someone as "an English-speaking person of European descent" which is what the word Anglo means in that part of the world.

 

People are always commenting on my blonde/blue-eyed boy's golden coloring and black lashes.  My husband always says he's "Charlie Quarter Brown" a play on both his name and ethnic mix. Maybe that is offensive shrug.gif.  I don't refer to myself as anything, I just refer to my dad. Part of the issue is that I don't identify culturally with my dad's half since my parents divorced when I was small and I no longer speak the language etc. I just feel "American" and I am not just saying that to be vague or patriotic or wishy-washy. When my dad is upset at our cultural differences he refers to me as too "American" so that just reinforces my habit of thinking of myself that way even though he means it as an insult.

post #13 of 77

i say either my husband/their dad is Hispanic/Peruvian, or when i talk to them about it i say they are both white and hispanic/peruvian.  dd and i were talking today about communities and what is a community and we talked about how she is both and she has different communities than i because i am only 1.

 

OP- i totally wouldn't want to get into all that with strangers.  i would say personally (since its what i do now) say "my kids are both x and y."  and then if pressed further, i would just say its complicated and a long story.  that usually indicates politely that you don't want to discuss it.

post #14 of 77
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for the great ideas- I definitely have some better options now. thumb.gif I also thought I could say "Their other background/ethnicity is...." since most people can see Im caucasian. Anyone see any issues with that response?

post #15 of 77

Yeah that Tigerchild!  No one has the right to define you but you.  Your logic makes perfect sense. 
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tigerchild View Post



Eh?  So if someone knows their heritage is predominantly Swedish and Chinese, but they have an American passport, they can't use the word eurasian?  Does that mean that an American can never say "oh, I'm Chinese" when someone mistakenly misidentifies their heritage as Vietnamese?  Seems kind of ridiculous to me. 

 

As we can see, everything is controversial.  In some parts of the US saying "mixed" is really flavored with racism.  Half is probably never going to be completely accurate.  Biracial might be okay, but i'm sure some people don't like that term.  using hapa if you're not Hawaiian is cultural appropriation.  And for those of us of multiple heritages, saying, "oh, I'm a mix of blah blab and blah might lead to a really long list.  In addition i always felt weird including country/states as part of my heritage on par with "race".  My white ancestors came from europe.  My non-white ones came from asia.  Simple.  As opposed to describing myself as German-Japanese-Cajun-GodKnowsWhatElse-raised-in-a-Irish-Italian-Scottish-Belgian-family.  :P

 


  

post #16 of 77

How about just "my African-American" or in my case "Sudanese-American" children?  :)  That's exactly what my kids are and there's no real need in most conversations to discuss if it's half-half, quarter, what type of 'part whatever' they are.

post #17 of 77

My mother is Scandinavian and my father is mostly Black. <----- So that's how I put it. "My moms white, my dads black". I've never minded "part" or "half". People usually assume that I'm Mediterranean or Spanish because I don't "look" AA, just (as they put it) "mildly exotic". Whatever.

 

 

When she was very young, my smallest sister used to say to people "This is my sister, she's mixed up" - you can count on a kid to nail it, I guess! ;)

post #18 of 77

I usually say something smart alecky like oh well DD is a human being or DD is American.  Sometimes I just say I don't define DD in those terms, I leave that for her to decide when she is ready to define herself.

post #19 of 77
I guess it would be a latino eurasian. Lol
post #20 of 77

I don't really like using "half" or "part" either b/c it makes me feel like I'm talking about a breed of dog or something, even though my kids ARE technically "half" black and "half" white. I just say if asked, that my kids are biracial or that my husband is black and leave it at that (I'm white so if they can't figure it all out then I would seriously question their intelligence lol)

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