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None of the above

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Topic: 6) None of the above (1 of 9), Read 128 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Barbara Wallraff (msgrammar@theatlantic.com)
Date: Wednesday, March 24, 1999 09:24 AM

Kathleen Cumberbatch, of Cheverly, Md., writes: "This is not a political, cultural, social, or racial question. Which word should best be used in the following circumstance?

"In most situations the word 'black'is used negatively. Yet black children are taught to use this word to describe themselves and be proud to be identified as a black person.

"Many 'black' people have light complexions, and many dark-complexioned people are not African-American. The NAACP represents 'colored people' -- meaning 'black people' who are often offended to be identified as 'colored people.'

"'White' suggests purity, cleanliness, peace, etc.; I guess 'black' suggests the opposite.

"I am of West Indian heritage and was born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. I am half Indian and half Negro. I am still a national of this country. I am also a Canadian citizen and have been for over twenty-five years. My only son, age 22, was born and raised in Montreal, and presently lives in Toronto with his fiancee and her family, who are refugees from Cambodia. I am now a resident of the U.S. and still a Canadian and a West Indian.

"I am dark-skinned, but I am not African-American. I am not black, and I am not white.

"What would be the correct word that should be used to describe someone who is not white, not Hispanic, not American Indian, and not 'other' as suggested on many forms?"

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Topic: 6) None of the above (2 of 9), Read 106 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Aaron Reneker (zanazarius@yahoo.com)
Date: Wednesday, March 24, 1999 08:33 PM

No offense intended, but why does a person absolutely HAVE to be described as a skin color? Does my skin color matter to those I teach? Probably not...unless I suddenly came to school with my skin having changed to a lovely shade of lavender or mauve. If we must use a descriptive based on skin color, why not just go the way of Rizzo of the Muppets and say, "Whatever?" We are so much more than the color of our skin--so why don't we just do away with all of these questions on all the forms on which they appear, statistics be damned?
Soapbox aside now...as far as I've seen and heard, being the son of a military man, I don't know of another word to describe a person with mixed heritage that isn't considered derogatory (another good argument to get rid of them altogether). And besides, if you REALLY want to get picky...only albinos are truly white. The rest are peach, pink or some very light shade of tan. What a wonderful planet this would be if we could just say our names and a little about ourselves without people first noticing, "Oh, he's a black man," or, "Oh, she's a Polynesian woman."

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Topic: 6) None of the above (3 of 9), Read 104 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Aaron Reneker (zanazarius@yahoo.com)
Date: Thursday, March 25, 1999 08:14 PM

Thanks to an apt (and, oh, did she love correcting me on this!) pupil of mine, I have been informed that Rizzo of Muppets' fame is a rat, not a Whatever. It is Gonzo that is of unknown species origin. Gotta be careful around those kids--they'll get you every time!

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Topic: 6) None of the above (4 of 9), Read 92 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Randy Silvers (randy.silvers@asu.edu)
Date: Sunday, March 28, 1999 04:06 AM

As a human, I concur with Aaron, that we shouldn't need to identify ourselves by skin color. A friend of mine was once asked a strange question: "What's it like working with them?" by another white person, in reference to his work on a reservation. He had never thought of those with whom he worked as "them." It is unfortunate that we seem to learn, quite well, to identify each other by color of skin.
As an economist though, the selection is important in measuring the wage or education gaps between these "groups." So long as politicians and political groups continue to segregate people by skin color, it helps to know whether the problems they cite are growing or dying out (happily, the black-white wage gap has narrowed and almost vanished, after accounting for differences in education, over the past few decades).
The growing number of people who are of mixed race poses problems for using such statistics. The choice that people make, including the choice of "other" or to abstain, does reflect changes in demographics and society's views on race.

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Topic: 6) None of the above (5 of 9), Read 73 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Lori Casanova (loricas@ptd.net)
Date: Wednesday, April 07, 1999 08:20 AM

Isn't an individual of the status you're describing referred to as a "Mulatto"? Maybe I'm misunderstanding that term, and if so, I hope someone will correct me.

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Topic: 6) None of the above (6 of 9), Read 63 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Zanny Q (mizqzanny@hotmail.com)
Date: Wednesday, April 07, 1999 11:13 AM

That is an interesting question , and perhaps in spite of many opinions an important one , especially when there are children involved. I am 'white' and when I was caring for a 'black' friends son I asked here how she referred to their skin color when it was necessary- oddly it does come up in unusual places- one being hair care- and she replied that they are not black they are brown- as that is the actual color of their skin. I suppose if they had been darker they might have been 'black' but they were both the loveliest creamy coffee color. I guess I should really refer to myself as ' white with blue and red splotches ' or 'red with whits patches under where my shirt was when I went out in the sun' but I think you get the idea.
Interestingly I just returned from London and the black/brown people I encountered there refer to themselves as colored-I found myself bristling on the train as I overheard just the tail end- only to turn around and discover it was a er uh-deep brown man speaking.I generally avoid the whole problem by referring to my friends as my friends regardless of their color and others by name - relationship- etc.
Maybe we could start reffering to different ethnic groups by the climate their skin was made for originally- ie I would be cold-not-too-much-sun and my friend could be warm-and-sunny-almost-year-round ,...Mayhaps shortened to Conomussun and Wassayer ?
:B good luck!
QZ

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Topic: 6) None of the above (7 of 9), Read 57 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Rus Bowden (lowelldude@aol.com)
Date: Wednesday, April 07, 1999 08:41 PM

Well, being of Irish descent, I should properly be referred to as pink or peachy maybe, certainly not white. And so-called blacks are dark brown, some milk chocolate and some go into a deep purplish hue. But that's just how it is... this range of colors and hues from very light to very dark.

The Black and White thing seems so very political. Like which of the two great American cultures do YOU belong to? Asking whether someone is black, white, or other, is different from asking if someone is lighter-skinned or darker-skinned. Of course, some of my best friends are neither.

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Topic: 6) None of the above (8 of 9), Read 40 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Christine Wolak (kaligrrl@yahoo.com)
Date: Thursday, April 08, 1999 06:33 PM

I like "human". Unfortunately that choice is never offered on the forms I fill out...
This is actually one of the things that I use on those web sites and other software that requires me to tell them my gender so that they can "provide advertisements that are appropriate to me" or "that I would find interesting". I always ask them why they don't require me to specify my race or religion - that maybe I feel that THOSE things will be more helpful to them in their advertising. But they would not DREAM of REQUIRING me to give that information. So then they say "we don't care which gender you pick - pick whichever one you most identify with". So I tell them that I am a computer programmer, recently married, living in South Carolina, who likes to read and watch movies, and could they please tell me, from that description, what my gender is.

The thing is, I would have NO problem with them asking for this information if it were OPTIONAL. But most of the time it's not.

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Topic: 6) None of the above (9 of 9), Read 41 times
Conf: Word Fugitives, with Barbara Wallraff
From: Michael Fischer (tsuwm@aol.com)
Date: Friday, April 09, 1999 12:45 AM

It seems to me that there's another side to this coin. Crayola is currently running a contest to rename their "Indian Red" crayon, which has been around for 40 years. They claim that it is named for a natural dye from India. True or not, it makes no difference to the colorless (and humorless) self-proclaimed arbiters of political correctness. (now there's a worn-out phrase for which we could use new coinage...)


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