Jew/Jewish; Oriental/Asian; Black/African-American

In this thread a poster bemoans what he feels is needless use of “Jewish people” to avoid saying “Jews” in a (to him) mistaken belief that saying “Jews” or “Jew” will be read as offensive.

It was further noted here

Holding my opinion for a second (although it is expressed in that thread) we can at least poll here! Poll to follow!

I voted “As a group member, I don’t care between black or African-American.”

But I don’t like “blacks.” As in, “Look at all the blacks.” I’d rather hear “Look at all the black people.”

Which is probably why “Jewish people” seems more natural to me. It’s less objectifying, to my ear.

  • I don’t care between Black or African-American*

The term African American is a convenient short-hand for the distinct group that are descendants of American slaves though.

“Blacks” doesn’t bother me but, after experience, when I hear the phrase “a black” (when referring to a person), I assume I’m about to hear something racist next.

I voted “Jew” – “Jewish person” has always been silly to me (my mother’s Jewish, so I am both half-Jewish and Jewish, depending on how it’s being measured).

As a Jewish person, this is my reasoning exactly.

“Jew” = the defining characteristic of that person is her Jewishness
“Jewish person” = she’s a person who happens to be Jewish, among many other qualities

Not a member of any of those groups, so I won’t vote but:

Jew: don’t notice any trends/strong preference (“he is a Jew” does not necessarily sound bad without context), but like monstro says using the shorter term (Jews, blacks, whites) as a collective group sounds “wrong” or even offensive.

In the US, I don’t consider Oriental to be offensive per se, but it does come across as incredibly dated. Sort of like “negro,” it may not be meant with offense but it would make me wonder if you just got out of the bunker you were staying in for the past 40 years.

As I understand it, in places like Britain, Asian commonly refers to South Asian, whereas in the US it is generally meant to refer to East/Southeast Asian. In those countries, “Oriental” may be a fine usage, so your poll might split upon where Dopers live.

Black and African-American are perfectly cromulent terms for different groups of people although there is a large overlap in many cases. The former refers to a phenotype and the latter people with a shared experience as descendants of slaves in the US. You can find reference to a US TV station interviewing UK athlete Kriss Akabusi, and they cannot stop calling him a “British African-American,” although it’s hard to find the original source. Things get kind of vague when you have to refer to Americans with African descent like Colin Powell (Jamaican parents), or Dwayne Johnson (dad is from Nova Scotia).

I’m old enough to remember when “a person of the Jewish persuasion” was a roundabout put-down. Jews say “Jew.” Goys say “Jewish person.” And it’s not an n-word thing, but I think some goyim wonder if it is. Let me state categorically here that it is not. There are offensive terms for Jews, that it is not OK for anyone to use, and phrases like “Jew me down” are just wrong. Jews sometimes use the Yiddish word “Yid,” but those are mostly people who tend to use a lot of Yiddish words in their conversation when speaking with other Jews anyway, and this is just one more word. I don’t know anyone who uses the word “Yid” for “Jew,” and doesn’t use a lot of other Yiddish expressions.

I would be a little off-put if a goy used the word “Yid” out of the blue, but not if it were the word everyone else in the room were using. There is no Jewish equivalent of the n-word, and that’s the end of it.

Now we need a poll where we ask goyim if they prefer “goy,” “gentile,” or “non-Jew”; we can ask whites whether they prefer “white,” “cracker,” “non-black,” or “Caucasian.” Is there a term for people who simply are not Asian, but could be anything else? Asians probably have one. Maybe someone will let us in on it. I’ve accepted the fact that the Amish (of which there are a lot around here) call me “English” (it is what I speak mostly, after all), and that there are people who probably would call me a “Yank,” even though people from New York definitely don’t think of themselves this way (and Hoosiers even less).

George Bush, fils once called Nelson Mandela a “great African-American.”

You are a Jew with one Jewish parent, not two. Up to my mother’s generation, it was highly unusual, but now, it’s not. I’d say 1/3 of the born-Jews I know have only one Jewish parent. Not to mention, probably 20% of my synagogue membership was not born Jewish, and maybe 1/3 of those people also have one Jewish parent. My mother remembers a time when it was extraordinary to meet a convert to Judaism.

I’ve been called a “goyischer putz,” but I don’t think they were complimenting me. “Goy” is okay, as long as we can use the Hebrew plural version. “Gentile” I can embrace. “Cracker,” well, that’s something I would call someone else but I don’t consider myself to be one–it’s a class thing. :wink:

You live in Indiana? From the Amish reference, I’d guess down south. Who knew you were so close!

I’m not a member of any of these groups, but I wanted to point out that the first choice is worded differently than all the other ones – it says “As a group member I **strongly **prefer ‘Jewish person’” while all the others just say “prefer” or “don’t care”. This may skew your results.

Sorry about that … I changed things a few times first offering options for "not a member of and … " which got unwieldy and failed to end up with consistent wording on all in the end I guess. Thanks for pointing it out. I hope that it is understood that all are intended to have the same valences.

I’ve always interpreted “person of the Jewish persuasion” or “person of the female persuasion” or “person of the Democratic/Republican/Libertarian/Communist/whatever persuasion” as being a mild parody of whatever Politically Correct phrases were current orthodoxy at the time.

As a group member I don’t care between Asian or Oriental

What I was told growing up and have heard from others is “People are ‘Asian,’ things are ‘Oriental’” but personally I honestly don’t give a shit.

I voted as a group “I don’t care about Jew or Jewish person”, with an added, unsolicited, and quite possibly unwanted, “people really need to get over themselves”. Sorry to be surly - and with no intended offense to the OP - but I’ve always felt that people put way too much emphasis on this particular issue.

No offense taken. That clearly falls in the don’t care section!

FWIW my take is not too off from yours. There are contexts in which there is a clear vibe or even an explicit theme (even short of “the Jew DSeid” or “Fukkin’ Jews”) in which “Jew” or “Jews” is used and not “Jewish person” or “Jewish people” … if the words are not … clearly … being used as part of that context then either way is just fine with only a slight editorial nod for brevity and word diversity. I am … bemused … that some feel they need to avoid use of the words. Personally. But that is just my own humble opinion. Maybe others really give a shit. Numbers still smallish but so far it seems not: pretty much no offense taken more one way or the other or at all. And so far no great surprise in the votes otherwise either. Again, small numbers of a very nonscientific nonrandom sampling, and an error made in the poll options using different phrasing on one of the options, so only worth so much.

No right or wrong here, just curiosity at others’ humble opinions. The only strong opinion I know of is in the linked thread in which a strong annoyance at the conscious and often klutzy avoiding of using “Jews” and “Jew” was expressed. Otherwise I am sensing a pretty strong “meh” consensus. So far.

I’d prefer my religion be an adjective rather than a noun, but I’m not offended by being referred to as a Jew.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Black was preferred over African-American. Not all Blacks are African-American.

Asian, and please don’t call me or my SO Oriental. We probably won’t be offended, but yes, we’ll think you just stepped out of a time warp. Oriental is for rugs. And for old people. I had one of my coworkers - who is pretty old - whip it out the other day. “That nice Oriental man”. I didn’t mean to look askance at her, but I must have, for she corrected herself!

Then again, I’m Indian so even the Asians don’t really think of us as Asian. :frowning: South Asian, and we’re not wanted by anyone!

I belonged to one of those groups in the past and didn’t care then, and wouldn’t care now about any of them as long as the context indicated no offense intended. I do get a little prickly over the term ‘black’ because I think it’s generally racist, but that’s rarely the intent of the speaker and I don’t have the patience to explain my view on that over and over again, especially because it tends to piss off some people.

Eh, I’m still trying to bring back “Celestial”.

(I actually occasionally find “oriental” useful since I work in a physics dept. which has a lot of international students and staff, and if I need to give a physical description and use “asian” to someone who learned English in the UK, they figure I mean Indian/Pakistani rather than E. Asian.)