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-   -   A better term than "half" or "part" for biracial children... (http://www.mothering.com/forum/438-multicultural-families/1296840-better-term-than-half-part-biracial-children.html)

Logan 02-08-2011 07:09 AM

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?


la mamita 02-08-2011 07:34 AM

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.

cappuccinosmom 02-08-2011 09:03 AM

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.


Oka-san 02-09-2011 07:21 AM

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


waiting2bemommy 02-09-2011 09:27 PM

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.


Tigerchild 02-09-2011 09:49 PM

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!!!)


Logan 02-09-2011 10:18 PM

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


happysmileylady 02-09-2011 10:35 PM

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


Eclipsepearl 02-10-2011 01:15 AM

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! 


Tigerchild 02-10-2011 11:20 PM



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. 

  


Oka-san 02-11-2011 08:27 AM

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.


azgirl 02-11-2011 09:27 AM

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.


raelize 02-11-2011 10:43 PM

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.


Logan 02-11-2011 11:01 PM

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?


veggiemomNYC 02-12-2011 11:28 AM

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

 


  




peaceful_mama 02-15-2011 09:25 AM

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.


BroodyWoodsgal 02-15-2011 09:45 AM

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! ;)


MoMo's Mama 02-21-2011 10:10 AM

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.


albafan15 06-14-2011 11:37 PM

I guess it would be a latino eurasian. Lol

JFTB1177 06-15-2011 08:44 AM

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)


Gemini13 06-15-2011 11:54 AM

Well, when people ask me I usually just say I'm biracial, black and white.  Sometimes I'll quantify by saying half for each, sometimes not- depends on my mood and the intrusiveness of the question. 


skreader 06-15-2011 07:35 PM

Here in HK, the most common term is "mixed", or sometimes Eurasian (if one of the parents is of European heritage). Mixed covers a lot of bases ( mum is Korean and Dad is HK Chinese both w/ British passports; mum is Pilipino-American and Dad is white British and kids are dual passport holders; father is Russian, mother's family came to HK from India 2 generations before....)

 

I grew up in the USA and called myself "half-Jewish" if someone asked my ethnicity. Now I self-describe as European-American - 'cause my ancestors came from various parts of Europe.

 

My DD is 15  now and will self-describe as "mixed" or if giving a longer explanation "my mum is Caucasian-American and my dad is Chinese". I don't  know where she got that phrase "Caucasian-American" because it's nothing that I've ever used. Maybe at school?

 


Eclipsepearl 06-17-2011 05:34 AM

Some object to "half-Jewish" since it's a religion and you can't be half a religion. But it's a culture to so it's kind of a grey area. I say "Mixed Jewish" because I'm not pure Jewish but it IS my religion (plus with me, it's not an even split). I never knew my Christian relatives. 

 

If your religion is not Jewish, it might be better to say that you simply have/come from a Jewish background. That says right away that you don't adhere to the religion and will cut off the silly questions right away (experience speaking!) You can even lop on the others like say your background is Irish-Jewish or whatever it is. 

 

But Caucasian-American is a mouthful! Better to just say "White-American" or just white, if they know that she has an American mother. I heard European-American once on a documentary about white supremacists so I would steer clear of that one! Plus, a lot of Europeans today, are not white. 


2xy 06-17-2011 07:01 AM

You could make up a word. My cousin says his kids are Polapino (Polish and Filipino). My friend from work calls herself Blackanese. That way, there would be no "half" or "part" involved, and just talks about the child as a complete. orngbiggrin.gif


skreader 06-21-2011 08:18 PM


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eclipsepearl View Post

Some object to "half-Jewish" since it's a religion and you can't be half a religion. But it's a culture to so it's kind of a grey area. I say "Mixed Jewish" because I'm not pure Jewish but it IS my religion (plus with me, it's not an even split). I never knew my Christian relatives. 

 

If your religion is not Jewish, it might be better to say that you simply have/come from a Jewish background. That says right away that you don't adhere to the religion and will cut off the silly questions right away (experience speaking!) You can even lop on the others like say your background is Irish-Jewish or whatever it is. 

 

But Caucasian-American is a mouthful! Better to just say "White-American" or just white, if they know that she has an American mother. I heard European-American once on a documentary about white supremacists so I would steer clear of that one! Plus, a lot of Europeans today, are not white. 

 

Eclipse,

 

Perhaps you have kind intentions, but when I read your words I feel like a complete stranger is trying to tell me and my children what words we should use or NOT use to self-describe in a cultural context outside the USA. I was offering my experience to the original poster, not asking for advice or criticism from other posters.

 

re: "half-Jewish", I always thought of being Jewish as an ethnicity and those who I know  who (like me) have one parent born a Jew  (often a father) and one not seem to have no problem with the term. Maybe this is a result of my age and social circle.

 

re:European

Yes, I am well aware that many living in Europe have ancestors from outside Europe, but most would probably self-describe by their nationality or country of residence (e.g. French), or precise country or culture of origin (e.g. Turkish German) . I find "European American"  is easier than saying "German-Irish-English-Protestant-Jewish-from-what-is-now-Poland-Jewish-from-what-is-now-Russia-American".  But, YMMV.

 

I am not fond of the word "white" to self-describe, since I think it is a cultural construct even more vague than that of "Europe".  It seems odd to me that you recommend it in place of "European-American" because some *white* supremacists in a documentary you once watched used it.   "White" is also not a word used much in my experience in Hong Kong or China, "western" or "European" is far more commonly used to describe those who look as though their ancestors came from the Western side of the Eurasian land-mass.  (That is, when people want to be polite)

 

 

 


 


Eclipsepearl 06-23-2011 01:25 AM

It's just that today, "European" is thought of in terms of nationality, and not necessarily, automatically white. I'm not "trying to tell" you anything. Don't be so quick to criticize! It's just that replacing "European" with white is kind of confusing, especially since "white" is perfectly valid to use and not impolite or politically incorrect. Also, it's less confusing than referring to a continent that you're not really from.

 

It doesn't matter if you're not "fond" of a word, especially since that's what's standardly used in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. Especially since there's no better word for it.

 

If one or both of your parents is directly from Europe, especially if you have the nationality, than that's fine but I'd use the nation, instead of the vague term "European". I don't say I'm European and I have French citizenship! (because it's by marriage, not by background). 

 

Remember too that a person can be white being from Latin America or the northeast of China (minority groups-obviously!) 

 

Btw, my girlfriend and I used to joke that we were "half-chosen" but people outside the Jewish community wouldn't get it lol! 


seawitch 06-23-2011 09:42 AM

Wait, Eurasian is offensive? I use the term because I'm Hungarian - and that's European but the race has northern Asian origins, as opposed to some other white races within Europe... (And yes, I was born and partially raised in Europe.) I don't refer to myself as Hungarian-American. I probably *should* because I'm a double citizen but if asked I refer to myself as Hungarian. Because, well, I feel that way - even though I've technically spent more time in America than Hungary by now...

The kids' father is adopted - his bio mother was Puerto Rican (which is itself a mutt race smile.gif ) and it's anyone's guess who his father was, we never met him nor were even given a name to guess from. H looks dark but he doesn't really have any Puerto Rican culture so I would call him American rather than Hispanic... like he doesn't speak Spanish, etc... but he identifies as Hispanic and Catholic. (And as far as Catholicism, this man has never once been to church in the 10+ years I've known him, nor does he know even the broadest philosophies behind it (i.e. he didn't know that Catholics believe Jesus is God). But people's identities are very... I dunno. Self-defining, I guess.

seawitch 06-23-2011 09:47 AM

As far as not all Europeans being white, well, not all Africans are black. I had one classmate (in America) who just moved from South Africa, who was white-skinned, refer to himself as African-American and the rest of the kids about laughed him out of the classroom before he explained that not every African national is dark-skinned.

Oh, and about the Jewish thing, there's confusion because in a religious term, you're either Jewish or you're not. If your mother was a Jew, then you're a Jew. If she wasn't (even if your father was), you're not Jewish. The end. (Unless you're Reform in which case it gets muddier.) As far as ethnicity, I think you can definitely be half-Semitic...

SubliminalDarkness 06-23-2011 09:53 AM

"Their dad is from Pakistan." That's all I say. 


Sharlla 06-23-2011 10:03 AM

well for myself i just say "im irish, dutch and cherokee"  i dont go into how much of what



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