Misinformation about race - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 26 Old 12-24-2008, 07:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi all
Coming out of lurkdom for a minute.
I'm Hispanic and my dh's Caucasian.

I hope this doesn't come across as snarky or anything .... is there any specific misinformation about race out there that bothers you (a lot)? (ha ha, who am I kidding? of course, there probably is!)

I'd like to share the following:
I try to ignore this one but I find it very difficult to because it happens so often, the fact that many people don't know that "Hispanic" is not a race.

They'll say "white, black, or hispanic".... sometimes they'll also mistakenly mention the nationality as a race- ex. "white, black or (fill in the blank.. Puerto Rican/Mexican/Cuban/etc)"

Our origins may be; white, black, Amerindians, Asian or often times any combinations of these.

As for myself, I'm of mixed heritage, mostly European, 1/4 Middle Eastern, and a smaller part African descent. (And I love it!) However, many of my family members only belong to 1 or 2 of these racial groups (which is also a difficult concept for many people to understand.) People might say something like "your aunts look white".... lol, well, yeah, probably because-- they are. lol

Once, when I asked a biracial (African American/Italian) girl if she was Hispanic, I could see that she was a bit offended even though she admitted that she was often asked, until..... I explained to her that many Hispanics are also black/white as she was or of other racial combinations. It finally made sense to her why people would walk up to her and just start speaking Spanish.

Anyway..... just wanted to let this out on here since there aren't too many places where people actually care about the topic.

For the most part, I let it slide, but other times I have to fight this really strong urge to ... 'splain it to Lucy.
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#2 of 26 Old 12-24-2008, 07:59 PM
 
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i find it funny when random people of asian decent come up to me and start speaking to me and i look utterly confused cuz i may be asian but i am not that "asian." or when people ask what nationality i am and i answer korean than they list off all the kims and lees and what not asking if i know them... just cuz they have a common last name doesnt mean i know them ..i am not the korean phone book information desk lady..
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#3 of 26 Old 12-24-2008, 10:11 PM
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I'd like to share the following:
I try to ignore this one but I find it very difficult to because it happens so often, the fact that many people don't know that "Hispanic" is not a race.

They'll say "white, black, or hispanic".... sometimes they'll also mistakenly mention the nationality as a race- ex. "white, black or (fill in the blank.. Puerto Rican/Mexican/Cuban/etc)"
Along those same lines, I suppose: people using the term Caucasian to refer to white people bugs the crap out of me. It is really a HUGE pet peeve of mine, although I realize that it considered an "acceptable" term and I guess is even the standard term for it. I am white and if someone refers to me as Caucasian I will invariably respond along the lines of "No, I am not of Caucasian heritage actually. Are you? And what part of the Caucasus is your family from?"

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#4 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 12:11 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Along those same lines, I suppose: people using the term Caucasian to refer to white people bugs the crap out of me. It is really a HUGE pet peeve of mine, although I realize that it considered an "acceptable" term and I guess is even the standard term for it. I am white and if someone refers to me as Caucasian I will invariably respond along the lines of "No, I am not of Caucasian heritage actually. Are you? And what part of the Caucasus is your family from?"
Yikes, I've used that term before for lack of a better term, although I'll admit it feels odd to say.
I know how these terms can seem insignificant on the surface, yet they're important to the recipient for whatever reason.

I try not to get upset about the terms people use, unless the intent or the context is intended to be derogatory.
It's difficult to always say the right thing to keep from offending anyone, especially when you don't know enough about other cultures/races. Also, I'm personally not a big fan of the extreme political correctness police because it keeps these topics in the closet and keeps people from learning anything.
For ex- For me, I actually prefer when people make the Archie Bunker type blunders than when people pretend race is totally invisible to them.
The former gives me the opportunity to provide new information to the person. The latter makes me feel subhuman because my culture/race must be ever-present in the person's mind for them to be able to remain hypervigilant of their words while in front of me, kwim?

The reason for my original post wasn't to say that it angers me so much I'm on the verge of committing homicide when someone misspeaks.... lol, it was simply to say that I'm surprised that so many people still aren't aware that "Hispanic" is not a race.
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#5 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 12:59 AM
 
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If you want to get technical about it, black and white are not races either. In fact there is only one race--the human race. The rest are either skin tones or in some limited contexts ethnicities or nationalities. Middle Eastern is not a race, it's a geographical description. Arab describes a common geographical origin and language. Hispanic refers to a common language, Latino is a more geographical description. Black refers to a skin tone, African American is a geographical description of a presumed origin that doesn't seem to apply to those from North Africa, which are more commonly considered Arabs. White is a skin tone that is claimed by many and rejected by many more.

These designations are political, cultural, social, or simply descriptive. So many people in the world today are so mixed (my kids have Arab, Danish, British, Irish, Italian, Native Mexican and possibly Yemeni blood) that it really is impossible to know anything about anyone by simply looking at them. I don't think any of those labels are useful at all.

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#6 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 02:03 PM
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Yikes, I've used that term before for lack of a better term, although I'll admit it feels odd to say.
I know how these terms can seem insignificant on the surface, yet they're important to the recipient for whatever reason.
Well, I think the reason I am very sensitive to this term is because I lived in the Caucasus for a few years (dd was even born there), so many of my friends are "real" Caucasians. As a result, it feels absolutely ridiculous to me to call myself Caucasian, because, well, ethnically I am not at all of Caucasian background (the Caucasus is comprised of many very disctinctive ethnic and national groups). And if my friends in the Caucasus ever heard my call myself Caucasian, they would think I was completely out of my mind

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#7 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by LauraN View Post
If you want to get technical about it, black and white are not races either. In fact there is only one race--the human race. The rest are either skin tones or in some limited contexts ethnicities or nationalities. Middle Eastern is not a race, it's a geographical description. Arab describes a common geographical origin and language. Hispanic refers to a common language, Latino is a more geographical description. Black refers to a skin tone, African American is a geographical description of a presumed origin that doesn't seem to apply to those from North Africa, which are more commonly considered Arabs. White is a skin tone that is claimed by many and rejected by many more.

These designations are political, cultural, social, or simply descriptive. So many people in the world today are so mixed (my kids have Arab, Danish, British, Irish, Italian, Native Mexican and possibly Yemeni blood) that it really is impossible to know anything about anyone by simply looking at them. I don't think any of those labels are useful at all.
I agree with some of what you're saying- labels are used for various purposes to pigeonhole people into neat little categories but these labels don't accurately depict the complete picture.
Although I respect your opinion, I also look at it a bit differently than you do.
I can belong to the human race and simultaneously identify myself as a member of many other smaller groups. As you’ve mentioned, there are various reasons for being labeled a member of a particular group, and they’re not always bad reasons. While it’s fine to say that we all belong to the human race, most people have a need to also identify with a smaller subgroup/s- even down to having the need to belong to *A* family. I wouldn’t want to have to abandon membership to MY family and instead say I’m related to ALL families of the world, kwim?

When people are denied a specific identity, they tend to feel lost. It’s why many adopted children are drawn to find their biological parents or why people set out on expeditions to find out about their cultural roots.
While I’ve dealt with my fair share of annoying/rude comments made to me based on my “race” and physical appearance. However, not every experience has been negative for me. Often my physical and supposed racial appearance has led to interesting conversations. So, *I* wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It’s true that the criteria for race is subjective and forever changing.
According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there are 6 major racial categories (which currently are characterized primarily by geographical region- though you may not like this method or any method. ??). So yes, racial criteria isn’t limited to skin color or ethnicity. It’s also true that many people identify as one group but may not be 100% purely of that particular ancestry.
White is defined as people having origins from the *original peoples* of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa.
Black “” original black peoples of Africa (subsahara).
American Indian “ ” original peoples of North, Central and South America who maintain tribial affiliation.
Asian “” from the Far East.

The reason for my starting this thread was to share that it bothers me that the term Hispanic is misused as a racial description. Also, I was inviting others to post about the misconceptions about race that bother them.

While many Spanish-speaking people from Latin America have origins from the original peoples from Central and South America (Inca, Maya, Aztec, Taino..).
Many people (like myself) DON’T have origins from the original peoples from the region but do have origins from the original peoples from Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

An analogy would be to say that ALL Australians are of aboriginal origin, instead of acknowledging that many are of European origin.
Or to say that All Americans (U.S.) are of Native American origin, instead of saying that we have origins from many geographical regions ALL over the world.
“American” is not a race.
We speak English as a national language, but we’re NOT English.
This is the best, but not the most comparable analogy to being Hispanic/Latino.

Sorry for the ramble, I hope this clarified the message I was trying to convey.
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#8 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 03:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by EVC View Post
Well, I think the reason I am very sensitive to this term is because I lived in the Caucasus for a few years (dd was even born there), so many of my friends are "real" Caucasians. As a result, it feels absolutely ridiculous to me to call myself Caucasian, because, well, ethnically I am not at all of Caucasian background (the Caucasus is comprised of many very disctinctive ethnic and national groups). And if my friends in the Caucasus ever heard my call myself Caucasian, they would think I was completely out of my mind
Thanks for elaborating.
I can definitely relate to people thinking you're (I mean you generally speaking not YOU in particular) out of your mind. LOL
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#9 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 04:04 PM
 
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Originally Posted by EVC View Post
Well, I think the reason I am very sensitive to this term is because I lived in the Caucasus for a few years (dd was even born there), so many of my friends are "real" Caucasians. As a result, it feels absolutely ridiculous to me to call myself Caucasian, because, well, ethnically I am not at all of Caucasian background (the Caucasus is comprised of many very disctinctive ethnic and national groups). And if my friends in the Caucasus ever heard my call myself Caucasian, they would think I was completely out of my mind
I could not not respond to this post. Just after DS was born, he had his first (and last) meeting with the local pedi and she wanted to know where DH and I were from. (Here in Israel it is a common question - with the *real* question being whether both partners are Ashkenazi Jews or Mizrachi Jews as this can have genetic implications.) I am not born Jewish, so this is a total non issue.

This doctor would not accept that my ancestry was Canadian and English/Irish and kept asking DH to tell her where I was *really* from until he told her the origin of the 'white' race is that Caucasus. And the silly woman wrote down 'kafkaz', the Hebrew for Caucasus.

So, yeah, I do not call myself caucasian or anything. In fact, I have been known to walk out of HR shouting that I am just me, no race, religion, etc. when I do not fit into the little boxs that they want to tick off.

Megan, mama to her little boy (Feb2008) and introducing our little girl (Dec 2010)
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#10 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 04:15 PM
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This doctor would not accept that my ancestry was Canadian and English/Irish and kept asking DH to tell her where I was *really* from until he told her the origin of the 'white' race is that Caucasus. And the silly woman wrote down 'kafkaz', the Hebrew for Caucasus.
And the funny thing is, most so-called "Caucasians" don't even look remotely Caucasian. I am very fair skinned, grey eyes, medium brown hair (Irish-Swiss background, mainly). Most Caucasians have dark skin, dark brown eyes, and dark brown or black hair. Ironically (from an English speaking point of view), in Russia, Caucasians are generally considered to be (and often referred to as) "black." Which shows you how stupid, inaccurate, and subjective many of these labels really are

PhDin' mama to dd (Oct. 2005)
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#11 of 26 Old 12-25-2008, 04:53 PM
 
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The "white" races came from the east over the Caucus mountains, thus Caucasian. I think It was originally intended to seperate the Celts/Germans from the earlier settlers in Europe(Italians etc), but I'm not really sure. Hhighly inaccurate, but not quite as subjective as color words. I know "black" people who are lighter than some "white" people.

I am not Hispanic, but I do find it funny that people don't realize that not all Latinos are dark. One of my Puerto Rican cousins is blond. Or the perception that all "Asians" are short, like all of east Asia has no genetic variation.

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#12 of 26 Old 12-26-2008, 12:34 PM
 
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Not race-related, really, but general ignorance ignores the heck out of me. When I first got engaged I'd mention my dh's home country, Ethiopia, and people would say "Oh, that's somewhere in Asia, right?".

'Course, given that a large percentage of American students can't even find their own country and state on a globe, I shouldn't be surprised. But it's always annoyed me.

There is a guy in our church (who is African American) who always greets dh with "Ah, there is my friend, the Abyssinian Nubian". Drives dh crazy but he's too polite to say anything.
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#13 of 26 Old 12-30-2008, 11:50 PM
 
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I'm Euro-American and my DH is HK-Chinese.

The "eurasian beauty" myth kind of annoys me + people also seem to think that Eurasian kids are more clever. Not that my kids aren't beautiful and clever, but I'm not so thrilled that it's considered a generic attribute (IYKWIM).

Oh, yeah and my dad is Jewish and in the past HK people or people from the PRC ask my background and I've mentioned it and they often say things like "Oh yes, You-tai Yan - very clever! Einstein!".

One time I did laugh when my eldest was about 6 months old & I ran into an acquaintance (a biologist, from the PRC) and he asked after my baby and I showed him her picture in my wallet and he took a look and grinned and said "Hybrid vigor!"

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Hi all

I hope this doesn't come across as snarky or anything .... is there any specific misinformation about race out there that bothers you (a lot)? (ha ha, who am I kidding? of course, there probably is!)
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#14 of 26 Old 12-31-2008, 12:25 AM
 
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To the OP, lately I've been coming across forms that tell me to check boxes and it gives me these two choices among others: Hispanic, non white or White, non Hispanic. What? How does that make sense? I think of my blond/redhead Mexican friends or me, with a dad from Mexico and a mom from Kansas. Who writes these things?
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#15 of 26 Old 01-01-2009, 02:06 PM
 
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A lot of times when I tell people my dd's are half-Indian they ask which tribe. So now I say "their father is from India" and that clears it up.

7yo: "Mom,I know which man is on a quarter and which on is on a nickel. They both have ponytails, but one man has a collar and the other man is naked. The naked man was our first president."
 
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#16 of 26 Old 01-01-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LauraN View Post
If you want to get technical about it, black and white are not races either. In fact there is only one race--the human race. The rest are either skin tones or in some limited contexts ethnicities or nationalities. Middle Eastern is not a race, it's a geographical description. Arab describes a common geographical origin and language. Hispanic refers to a common language, Latino is a more geographical description. Black refers to a skin tone, African American is a geographical description of a presumed origin that doesn't seem to apply to those from North Africa, which are more commonly considered Arabs. White is a skin tone that is claimed by many and rejected by many more.

These designations are political, cultural, social, or simply descriptive. So many people in the world today are so mixed (my kids have Arab, Danish, British, Irish, Italian, Native Mexican and possibly Yemeni blood) that it really is impossible to know anything about anyone by simply looking at them. I don't think any of those labels are useful at all.
Hurrah to that. We speak in terms of national and tribal heritage.

USAmma, at least people don't ask you "dot or feather?"

(Re: "mixed race" kids being more beautiful and smart, once over the phone when I was detailing DD's background a woman said, "She must be beautiful!" I said yeah, she's gorgeous, but she looks exactly like her father, who is very much a purebred, so there you go!)

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And the funny thing is, most so-called "Caucasians" don't even look remotely Caucasian.
Well, you can blame* that on the Turks and Arabs, though. The original Indo-Europeans really did pass through there, they have just had some fun with other peoples along the way. *Tongue-in-cheek! Tongue-in-cheek!

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#17 of 26 Old 01-03-2009, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Didn't want to hijack..... I can somewhat relate to the thread "white native american."

It doesn't bother me the MOST that people are ignorant of the racial heritage of Hispanics as much as it bothers me
*** how much resistance you get when you try to explain how/why you identify yourself as you do and your own racial makeup.
People will undermine your words or act as if you've fallen out of your rocker.***

So, picture your female-self entering a ladies' restroom, when suddenly you're detained because you're mistaken for a man.
You make an attempt to clarify that you're really, in fact, a woman.
But NO one believes you and they insist that you are indeed, a man, unless you are willing to prove it by exposing your goods- otherwise you must use the men's room!

This is not the best example because I identify with several racial/ethnic groups but people will try to force me to self-identify with only one (which btw, is inaccurate for many).
However, I think most can relate to this example of misidentification and having to "prove" your identity. It's annoying.
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#18 of 26 Old 01-04-2009, 04:28 AM
 
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Everything mention so far, bothers me. But especially a "color" being considered a "race".

And on a personal level, whenever someone ask me "what race are you?" and I tell them, they give me a follow up question "what else are you?" That makes me want to Scream!!!!!

Or because of the way I dress "what country are you from?", is also another annoying follow up question.
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#19 of 26 Old 01-22-2009, 10:01 PM
 
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does it annoy me that indivuals call me white? not really. does is bother me that society as a whole calls me white? YES! Heres what I mean, if an indivual has a lack of specific label I don't get offended at being called white because in general someone is just referring to skin tone. I do that too. It's just a physical description. However, curturally speaking it does bother me when people call me white... especially if comparing me to someone who they give a very specific label to. People will look at me and think, "white". Ok, then they stop there, then they will go on to ask dh his specific background because they think people of darker skin are somehow more diverse in makeup???? What? Having light skin says ZERO about where my ancestors are from. With my skin tone my origion could be from a zillion places but, people are just satisfied with "white". Quite frankly it's insensitive. Is no one ever curious where I come from when standing next to my more colorful dh (or anytime really). Why is white so unimportant or uninteresting to seemingly everyone?

grrrrrrr.

It also bothers me when people that are of mixed race but don't have an overly prodominate percentage refer to themselves as only one of there races. For instance, my very own dh is half mexican, 1/4 sue, and the other 1/4 is of unknown (unknown to him) european decent. But, if you ask him what he is he'll simply answer, "mexican". He recently told me that it comes down to not feeling very connected to the other 2.... but, I still don't get it I guess. In the 7 years we've been together he has mentioned being part Sue a few times to others who ask but has NEVER copped to the light skinned, european decendants. Come on... it's not THAT BAD to be from light skinned europeans!

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Originally Posted by LauraN View Post
If you want to get technical about it, black and white are not races either. In fact there is only one race--the human race. The rest are either skin tones or in some limited contexts ethnicities or nationalities. Middle Eastern is not a race, it's a geographical description. Arab describes a common geographical origin and language. Hispanic refers to a common language, Latino is a more geographical description. Black refers to a skin tone, African American is a geographical description of a presumed origin that doesn't seem to apply to those from North Africa, which are more commonly considered Arabs. White is a skin tone that is claimed by many and rejected by many more.
yah that!

~TRACY, wife to loving dh, mommy to dd (10/05), ds(12/08), 3 kitties, & 2 pups.
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#20 of 26 Old 01-22-2009, 11:23 PM
 
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To the OP- I often refer to Hispanics (as in the culture, the community, the descendents- you know, like, La Raza style) as being pre-mixed.

As in, lots of different people from different areas came together and form new distinct people, cultures, communities.

It is amazing how many weird looks I get when I say this. It's like people never put it together before. So I get where you are coming from.

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#21 of 26 Old 01-22-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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USAmama and EdnaMarie- is there something wrong with saying "dots or feathers"?

Because where I live, people say that all.the.time.

Indigenous Americans are the #1 minority group here, and our area has recently experienced an influx of new immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent. "Native American" never really caught on here- Indigenous Americans call themselves Indians. (The tribal gov'ts are here are the Keewenaw Bay Indian Community and the Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.)

So, if it comes up, people ask "dots or feathers", I guess because it's less cumbersome than "What kind of Indian?"

However, *I* will stop saying it if there is a danger of offending people.

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#22 of 26 Old 01-23-2009, 12:58 AM
 
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As a kid I used to get really annoyed when I told people my parents were from El Salvador and it turned into this:

Them: Where's that?

Me: Central America

Them: Oh you're from the states?

Me (drawing maps, playing charades)

Them: So do you speak Mexican?



So it later changed to me answering "where's that?" with...South of Mexico, I speak Spanish, and no I'm not Spanish.
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#23 of 26 Old 01-23-2009, 02:49 PM
 
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USAmama and EdnaMarie- is there something wrong with saying "dots or feathers"?

Because where I live, people say that all.the.time.

Indigenous Americans are the #1 minority group here, and our area has recently experienced an influx of new immigrants from the Indian Subcontinent. "Native American" never really caught on here- Indigenous Americans call themselves Indians. (The tribal gov'ts are here are the Keewenaw Bay Indian Community and the Sault St. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians.)

So, if it comes up, people ask "dots or feathers", I guess because it's less cumbersome than "What kind of Indian?"

However, *I* will stop saying it if there is a danger of offending people.
Here is what bugs me. Not all Native Americans wear or ever wore feathers- that is only a few tribes, and definitely not the tribe I am descended from- and certainly not all Indians are Hindu! Many are Muslim, Zoroastrian, and even Christian (and Sikh, duh, forgot, I knew I forgot one of the major ones...). If someone says they are Indian, and you are curious, I would ask, "Native American or from the Indian subcontinent?"

Actually of the maybe 50 Indians I know personally, all are Muslim. It is through my work. None of them have ancestors who wore "dots". Also not all Hindus still use the caste system, even.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#24 of 26 Old 01-23-2009, 02:52 PM
 
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Oh and to say Native American, is just geographical for me. But if you think that might offend them as they might take it as being corrected for their own terminology, you can say, "From the Americas or from the Indian subcontinent"?

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#25 of 26 Old 01-28-2009, 04:19 PM
 
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I have one that bothers me, and I have never known how to ask about it, so forgive me if this comes off as clumsy—I am asking the question so that I don’t offend in the future; hopefully I don’t offend too much just by asking.

I am confused about the term "African American". It seems to be generally accepted as a "polite" term--replacing "black" in most Americans' vocabularies, although I still hear both terms in the media, etc). However, I have also heard many people use the term to describe ALL "black" people, no matter where they are from. Like "black" people who are from France or Cuba or Canada--or even if they are just from Africa (as in "Nelson Mandela was the first African-American President of South Africa"). In reality, they aren't African-American at all, but the speaker calls them that as if they are somehow being polite??? It completely bugs the pants off me . . . but at the same time, I wonder what are we supposed to call these people (assuming we needed to use any term for some purpose)--Franco-Africans? African-Canadians?

Is it offensive to just say "black"? I don’t want to sound like my racist aunt-in-law who still says “colored” (or worse), but at the same time, I am unsure that I’d be able to define all nationalities of “black” people accurately (again, assuming I had some purpose for doing this).:
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#26 of 26 Old 01-28-2009, 05:54 PM
 
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Queethebeen, we recently moved from South Africa to Canada. i still consider myself African (my families has been been in Africa since 1700). It irks me that I can't describe myself as an African because I'm not black. My adoptive son is black, but I have no idea from which tribe, so I'm never quite sure what to say when people ask me....
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