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  #51  
Old 01-09-2020, 12:16 PM
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Hispanics can be pale white or dark black or anything in between. They may have American, European, African, or Asian ancestry. Manchegans do not all resemble Bolivians. "Hispanic" is useless as a description to help pick someone out of a crowd, unless you hear him speak Spanish (this may be less useful in Buenos Aires).
Obviously, "hispanics" differ in appearance, but I disagree that it is useless as a descriptor.

If we showed a group of average persons an array of photos, I am confident there would be considerable overlap WRT the ones most commonly identified as hispanic. Sure, they would include some Filipinos and (US) Native Americans, and would likely exclude some paler, more "Spanish" folk. But there is SOME commonly understood understanding of hispanic appearance, which, if I said someone "appeared hispanic," that COULD provide useful information in some situations. In the past, I believe I have specified that someone had a very "Indian" appearance - which I'm sure is offensive - to suggest an appearance more suggestive of Aztec/Mayan... heritage than European.

Around our parts, the majority of yardwork is done by people of Mexicans heritage. Can anyone honestly tell me that if I said the folk working in my neighbor's yard were Mexican or hispanic, that you would not form ANY impression of what they looked like? And such a description MIGHT be useful - if we were discussing immigration, nationalization, who is willing to perform what jobs, etc.

My grandfather's second wife was Mexican. She had red hair. By appearance, I would never have described her as Hispanic, but if I were referring to her speaking/behavior, I might. And she was born and lived in Mexico - so she definitely WAS Mexican. (It has been a long time and I never knew her well, but as I recall, she personally considered herself and her "European" family and associates quite different than her more "Indian" countrymen.)
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  #52  
Old 01-09-2020, 12:58 PM
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"Hispanic" is useless as a description to help pick someone out of a crowd, unless you hear him speak Spanish (this may be less useful in Buenos Aires).
Yes, technically, for the people who actually know what the word means. To the average Joe, it connotes something different, so I wouldn't say it's "useless." Dinsdale is correct as to what the average person associated with a description of "Hispanic." It can be problematic for some reasons, but when somebody describes a person as looking "Hispanic" it's not because they were speaking Spanish. I feel the same way about "Indian." (Which, to me these days, is South Asian, not Native American.) Indians run the gamut in skin color and look, but when somebody describes somebody as "looking Indian," I have an idea of what they're trying to convey.

Last edited by pulykamell; 01-09-2020 at 01:01 PM.
  #53  
Old 01-09-2020, 01:01 PM
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I worked with a guy who looked pretty much full-blooded Native American. He had a blonde, blue-eyed cousin. She took entirely after her mother's family.

Me, I'm all Northern European and look it. People guess I'm Polish a lot. ( "You look just like my best friend's cousin. She's Polish. Are you related?" )
I would have thought that I'm about as American looking as I could be (tall, fat white guy usually wearing jeans), but it seems like every time I go to Europe, I get mistaken by some local for being German, Dutch or British. Not sure how that happens exactly.
  #54  
Old 01-09-2020, 01:04 PM
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It's been a few years (like, 35) since I lived in Hawaii. Are you still allowed to describe most of those non-Asian-guys as "haole" or even "hapa haole" ?

Have the rules changed over who you can call a "malihini" or a "kamaaina"? Can you still call 51% of the population "wahine"?

Times change. If I were to visit there again, I'd probably get flamed to a crisp too.
Sorry for lack of okinas which can't aren't available without a Hawaiian language font anyway!

Yep! Despite PC pressure, haole (actually anyone not native Hawaii) and hapa haole (a tricky one, defined well in this article: https://www.npr.org/sections/codeswi...-white-no-hapa) or just hapa are perfectly acceptable, at least in my non-PC circle. Personally, I think white or caucasian is more demeaning.

As for malahini (newcomer to the islands) and kamaaina (native born, regardless of race), these too are perfectly acceptable. Yesterday I bought some chocolate covered strawberries and the casher asked if I had a local ID. I thought it was because I had to hand her my CC, but she said I got a kamaaina discount. Win! Don't call someone a kanaka (native Hawaiian) unless you know for sure they're Hawaiian though.

Wahine (female) or kane (male)? Well, it's written on bathroom doors, so perfectly acceptable. Yes, I know an odd justification, but an example of it not being non PC. Just as with any gender descriptive, the tone and how you use is can make all the difference. "I'm going to be in the wahine department" is perfectly fine. "That wahine was soooo rude!" is not. YMMV
  #55  
Old 01-09-2020, 02:29 PM
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Some of the comments here are reminding me of a thread here years ago where an argument ensued over what it means to "look black". Some folks were quick to point out the vastness of Africa and the wide variety of looks, depending on specific region, etc. I wanted to ask " are you trying to tell me if I described someone to you and used the descriptor "black" you wouldn't have any idea what I meant?".
  #56  
Old 01-09-2020, 04:08 PM
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Some of the comments here are reminding me of a thread here years ago where an argument ensued over what it means to "look black". Some folks were quick to point out the vastness of Africa and the wide variety of looks, depending on specific region, etc. I wanted to ask " are you trying to tell me if I described someone to you and used the descriptor "black" you wouldn't have any idea what I meant?".
I've encountered this spurious "grain-of-sand-continuum fallacy" in discussions of race as well. Some people arguing, in bad faith, that just because you can't easily tell a light-skinned African and a dark-skinned Caucasian apart, that therefore the whole concept of race doesn't exist.
  #57  
Old 01-09-2020, 05:08 PM
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That is not quite what I am saying, at any rate. Many regions arguably have a distinctive local look. But I would not be so sure that people far away can reliably identify it. Moreover, keeping in mind the goal is to describe someone, quite possibly a stranger, to someone who does not know them, it seems to me superfluous to try to figure out whether the black or brown guy is African or Indian or maybe from somewhere else, just say he has nut-brown skin. In situations where that hardly narrows it down, you may well need to add more details anyway (height, hairstyle, and so on, even if we stipulate he is known to be from, let's say, Gambia).
  #58  
Old 01-09-2020, 10:27 PM
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... just say he has nut-brown skin. ...
In the US, at least, people of color can get quite touchy about references to shades of skin color. A person with dark skin color can allege that as a basis for a charge of discrimination by lighter skinned persons.
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  #59  
Old 01-11-2020, 03:30 PM
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Originally Posted by bump View Post
I would have thought that I'm about as American looking as I could be (tall, fat white guy usually wearing jeans), but it seems like every time I go to Europe, I get mistaken by some local for being German, Dutch or British. Not sure how that happens exactly.
I seem to look German (which is mainly what my dad's side of the family is, to be fair) to Italians; twice in Italy I was addressed in German.
  #60  
Old 01-11-2020, 03:45 PM
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In the US, at least, people of color can get quite touchy about references to shades of skin color. A person with dark skin color can allege that as a basis for a charge of discrimination by lighter skinned persons.
No one except crazy people get offended by neutral skin tone descriptions. "Light-skinned", "medium brown", and "dark brown" are perfectly valid ways of describing skin tone. "High yellow", "blue black", "shit brown", etc. are not.

You're overthinking this big time.
  #61  
Old 01-11-2020, 04:55 PM
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I seem to look German (which is mainly what my dad's side of the family is, to be fair) to Italians; twice in Italy I was addressed in German.
The conclusion is that Germany, the Netherlands, Britain, and America all contain a proportion of "tall, fat white guys", the casual wear (jeans) or more generally the clothing style marked him as a tourist, and, as fits the topic of this thread, they simply guessed the wrong ethnicity in his, and your, cases. Even if you do look absolutely more German than German.
  #62  
Old 01-11-2020, 05:09 PM
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No one except crazy people get offended by neutral skin tone descriptions. "Light-skinned", "medium brown", and "dark brown" are perfectly valid ways of describing skin tone. "High yellow", "blue black", "shit brown", etc. are not.

You're overthinking this big time.
The problem is that crazies are usually the most vocal and heaven forbid they report you or are HR or upper management.

IMO, PC has gone way to far and because it's subjective, "Oh...I'm offended!", the crazies often get their way.
  #63  
Old 01-11-2020, 05:17 PM
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The problem is that crazies are usually the most vocal and heaven forbid they report you or are HR or upper management.

IMO, PC has gone way to far and because it's subjective, "Oh...I'm offended!", the crazies often get their way.
If you can cite an article about this phenomenon, I'm all ears. Because I have never in my life witnessed or heard about someone flying off the handle over a skin tone descriptor.

I hear such these kind of descriptors on the six o'clock news all the time. It seems to me if they were the landmine you and Dinsdale seem to think they are, this wouldn't be the case.
  #64  
Old 01-11-2020, 07:14 PM
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Referring to the woman as wearing a headscarf is potentially problematic, if I do not know that she wears the scarf at all times.
Unless you have only seen that person on a holy day on their way to pray, or while relaxing in their own home, it's a safe bet that they wear the headscarf all the time. Veiling isn't a fashion accessory; it's a commitment to a religious belief. With the exception of some who do it only to pray, women who wear hijab always wear it when they go out.

(I guess there could be exceptions to that behavior, especially in non-Moslem majority countries, but still, I think it's a safe bet to assume that if a woman was wearing hijab when you met her, she'll be wearing it the next time someone sees her out and about.)
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  #65  
Old 01-12-2020, 07:32 PM
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Erk, just noticed I wrote a bit illogically above. First sentence should read: Unless you have only seen that person on a holy day on their way to pray, it's a safe bet that they wear the headscarf all the time.

The part about "relaxing in their own home" didn't belong. That's the one place where women who strictly veil while out in the world don't have to cover. I must be getting too old to write sensibly.
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  #66  
Old 01-23-2020, 04:49 AM
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Say I'm sending someone to meet you, and want to tell you what they look like so you can identify them. Assume I do not know what they will be wearing. I'll probably describe them as appearing male/female, tall/average/short, thin/average/heavy. And I'll probably describe hair color/length, and whether they will likely be wearing glasses.

Let's say we are in the US, and the person I am sending is ethnically from Japan/India/Iran/Turkey/Mexico/etc. What - if any - race/ethnic descriptors do you feel are appropriate?
{Bolding mine}

This is 2020 and there are many options available :

1. Ask the traveling person for his/her cell phone number. Ask your meeter to coordinate the meetup on phone.
2. Ask the traveling person to send her/his photo for better identification
3. Ask the traveling person to send a description of themselves for the meeter to identify
4. Ask the meeter to hold a board up with the person’s name ( common method for the last 30+ years of my travel).

Also, the use of the word “ethnic” to describe people of color is so 20th century. More here : https://everydayfeminism.com/2016/07...-describe-poc/ White people don’t identify themselves with their ethnicity like German or French or Polish then why use the term for other nationalities ?


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Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
I was thinking about this after I passed a young woman wearing a head scarf. I have no idea whether her ethnicity was Persian, Indian, middle eastern, or something else. IF I was asked to describe her, is there any acceptable term/phrase I could use other than saying, "she was wearing a head scarf."
When you pass a white young woman, do you wonder about her ethnicity? like if she has German ethnicity or Italian ethnicity. Why do you have to wonder about this young lady’s ethnicity ? Because she is wearing a scarf and not white ?

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Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
Or if a person is dark skinned - apparently of African descent. Is it OKAY to describe them as "black?"
That person could be a Doctor, a lawyer or a Scientist. Ask them what they like to be described as.

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...when I was publicly castigated for referring to someone as "oriental." I've always found the descriptor "Asian" problematic.
White people belong to the social group with power and privilege. In the past this privilege has been used to develop stereotypes like “Orientals “. US is changing now and many whites have willingly decided to let go of these stereotypes. You can be one of them too - it’s not about it being “problematic” to you, it’s about being insulting to others.


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For that matter, how should I describe my lily-white ass?
You have the power and the privilege to do as you wish. Many whites guys, I have met, themselves as a mathematical equation such as : I am 1/3 Irish, 1/4 German ...... and 1/10 Cherokee on my mother’s side. I don’t get that.

I think describing yourself as Human is sufficient just like for all of us.
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Old 01-23-2020, 06:58 AM
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My step-daughter flew in from the only place in the country with a notable Muslim minority. When I saw several people coming down the concourse wearing hijabs, I told my wife "The flight from Zamboanga has arrived." She asked how I knew. What am I supposed to say? "Lucky guess"???

I refuse to be ashamed of being observant.
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:13 AM
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My step-daughter flew in from the only place in the country with a notable Muslim minority. When I saw several people coming down the concourse wearing hijabs, I told my wife "The flight from Zamboanga has arrived." She asked how I knew. What am I supposed to say? "Lucky guess"???

I refuse to be ashamed of being observant.
I sincerely ask you to consider the pain and humiliation felt by other human beings.

In circumstances like this, I take comfort in Gandhi :
“ When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
  #69  
Old 01-23-2020, 08:43 AM
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I sincerely ask you to consider the pain and humiliation felt by other human beings.
Who was hurt or humiliated by jtur88's observation that disembarking passengers wearing hijabs infers a very high likelihood that the flight in question originated from the only place in the country with a notable muslim minority?
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Old 01-23-2020, 09:53 AM
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I've encountered this spurious "grain-of-sand-continuum fallacy" in discussions of race as well. Some people arguing, in bad faith, that just because you can't easily tell a light-skinned African and a dark-skinned Caucasian apart, that therefore the whole concept of race doesn't exist.
The fact is that genetically, race does not exist. Humans are really similar genetically, but there's more variation within Africa than the rest of the world combined. if you had to divide humans into groups, you'd have three or four groups from different parts of Africa and one group covering part of Africa and the rest of the world. So, in fact, yes, the light-skinned African and the dark-skinned Caucasian (whatever that means) may well be more genetically similar than the light-skinned African and some other medium-skinned African.
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Old 01-23-2020, 10:11 AM
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Sometimes I wonder if people don’t make this problem out to be harder than it is. For instance, it sounds like this whole thread was prompted by learning that "oriental" is not generally considered a suitable way to refer to, well... anyone. Although one often hears of such things occurring to certain people, I don’t believe I’ve ever found myself in a situation in which I (1) felt it necessary to use a racial or ethnic descriptor and (2) got aggressively called out for not using a person's (then unknown) preferred descriptor. But then honestly, even working in government, I don’t believe I’ve often found myself in a situation where (1) above is even necessary, so (2) rarely even has a chance to come into play.

Seems like the easiest way, then, is to just not inject race or ethnicity into a description unless necessary to do so, and then to have a general awareness that terms like, say "oriental" are probably not the go-to for anyone with Asian ancestry, whether that ancestry happens to come primarily from China, Japan, Vietnam, etc. As to what’s acceptable... well, here I’d say just about anything from "Asian" to "country of ethnic origin" to "not applicable" would be better. If I ever got called out for using the "wrong" descriptor in someone's mind, I’d like to think I’d be nimble enough to adapt, and then have the social intelligence to consider whether or not that person might have a point in general and so I should endeavor to shift my vocabulary. Because I guess I can see an older person referring to an Asian-American as "oriental" once, but I guess I’d be scratching my head at just what is driving them if they felt compelled to try and justify using it again, or using racial/ethnic-descriptors flippantly or indifferently, as if it’s either super easy to come up with a one-size-fits all descriptor, or so hard that we might as well just call people whatever we want, irrespective of what they might want.

In other words... no. There is no such list as what the OP is asking for. That doesn’t mean t doesn’t matter, or that all descriptors are equally likely to give offense.

Last edited by ASL v2.0; 01-23-2020 at 10:15 AM.
  #72  
Old 01-23-2020, 10:53 AM
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The fact is that genetically, race does not exist.
We're not discussing genetics in this thread, we're discussing aesthetics. If someone describes a person to me and uses "African" or "African-American" as a descriptor, I'm not going to be looking for someone who looks like Muammar Gaddafi, despite the fact that he was in fact African.

The variation in appearance of people across the continent of Africa means that if I'm scanning a diverse crowd of Africans and looking for a particular person who has been described to me as "African," I'm going to have a hard time picking him out. But if I'm scanning a crowd of white people or Asian people for the one guy who looks "African," then that descriptor is going to make my job considerably easier.
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Old 01-23-2020, 11:37 AM
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When you pass a white young woman, do you wonder about her ethnicity? like if she has German ethnicity or Italian ethnicity. Why do you have to wonder about this young lady’s ethnicity ? Because she is wearing a scarf and not white ?
Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't. And not just w/ women. I do not HAVE to wonder. But I am a member of a species which receives and processes visual information. I tend to observe details about my surroundings - whether about people, animals, plants, landscape... One could obviously choose not to.

And re: headscarf usage, I recently read a lengthy article in the Chicago Trib on the topic, and the conclusion was that one could draw no conclusions either as to the manner or reasons. A significant number of respondents described choosing to wear the scarf or not in any situation depending on any number of factors, including their mood or perceived time constraints. Personally, I tend to consider most cultural/religious clothing choices silly, but I do not draw conclusions as to the manner in which a individual chooses to exercise them.
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  #74  
Old 01-23-2020, 12:00 PM
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{Bolding mine}

White people don’t identify themselves with their ethnicity like German or French or Polish.


Many whites guys, I have met, themselves as a mathematical equation such as : I am 1/3 Irish, 1/4 German ...... and 1/10 Cherokee on my mother’s side.
Okay then.
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Old 01-23-2020, 12:59 PM
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I met a guy from London who made sure to note he was 100% Irish, and exactly which kind of Irish. So, touchy stuff, that percentage idea may sound like a good theory but in real life not so much. Same for mixing up French and Germans and Poles, or Somalis and Nigerians for that matter.

Last edited by DPRK; 01-23-2020 at 01:03 PM.
  #76  
Old 01-24-2020, 10:37 PM
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My mother was from a Catholic family. Women never went into a church without their head covered. They crossed themselves when the car passed a RC church, and they would not eat meat on Friday. They did these things because it eased their conscience to comply. Protestants all knew about these edicts, nobody gave catholics a bad time about it. If you have lunch with a catholic and order a burger, it was not at all offensive, they just laugh and say they have to have fish. To this day, fish-fry is still a popular Friday social option in South Milwaukee.

People used to be cool with customs reflecting ethnic cultures. What the hell is wrong with everybody now?
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