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Should we describe people?

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posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 03:40 AM
Well.... I was making a thread about Black Intellectuals, but halfway through searching, I could really only find hate speech against white people, and eventually my brain exploded from somes ignorance and apparently a majorities sheer hate.
(Although, if anyone wants to help me on the pending thread, hit me up via U2U)

So I'll go on to ask a question, i've started a little experiment of my own at my workplace.

Whenever a black person, a mexican person, or any skin tone color person came in, when I would refer to them, I'd just say, person.

Not that black person over their needs, such such and such.

Just that person over there, and when they said which one, instead of an almost instinct of saying the black person, i'd say the guy with the blue shirt.

To my surprise, someone would always have this curious look, and say to me, "you mean the black guy", or "You mean the mexican guy?"

As if shirt color reference was wrong!

And no, it wasn't always a person of color, the same rules were evident when there was only a white person, "You mean the white guy".

I think referring to people by the color of their skin, is outdated (sadly it was indate at once) but that we should ignore this, and refer to all people, as PEOPLE!

We can only first make this change within ourselves, that's where it all starts, and it will spread, through consciousness raising.

What say you ATS, should socially describing people by their color, be something tolerable?

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 04:14 AM
OH MY GOD YESSS!! it should be something tolerable.

I'm sorry but this over the top political correctness is just ridiculous.

Think about what you're saying and then ask yourself...what would be the point of limiting some ones descriptive terms? and whats so bad about describing someone by one of their most visually obvious, and consistent defining characteristics?

I don't see where you're going with this thread, but I don't like the looks of it so far...

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 04:22 AM
I agree, one of my friends pulled me up on it the other day. i described somone as a black guy, where the term black wasn't nesesary. He was right though and it has made me think more about how I describe others.

I think it has to be a good thing. Like the original concept of political correctness, I believe has had a positive effect on society. Especially for those who's lives have been improved by political correctness. Ethnic minorities, women, homosexuals.

[edit on 6-1-2010 by woodwardjnr]

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 04:25 AM
I'm not pushing Political Correctness.

That would be to refer to blacks as African-Americans, and Mexicans as Hispanics, or Southern Americans.... SA's

Moreso, consciousness raising, as the feminist movement has done, with "Men Working" signs, and others.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 04:35 AM
reply to post by woodwardjnr

since when are people offended by their skin color, and if anyone is, why is that my problem?

where do we draw the line? Pretty soon I wont be able to describe your avatar as having a beard.....I already can't refer to him as a white guy according to this post.

None of this is good for society, political correctness is a subtle form of censorship, and creates a of false guilt in those that don't abide by it...

have you guys really thought about what you're saying?

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 04:43 AM
reply to post by Republican08

ok and you think we should not refer to anyone as anything other than people? So no more men or women either I presume? just people? How will I know which bathroom to enter?

You don't seem to be making a point. You can make an argument for changing road signs because there are actually people other than men working there. But by your own logic, it wouldn't be to change the sign but simply eliminate the word women, from the dictionary and just refer to everyone as men. Problem solved. You're not raising consciousness, you're killing adjectives, now stop it.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 04:47 AM
reply to post by Republican08

You know what?

PC is all about lies.

Yes, if someone is black, they are black - and that is how they describe themselves.

So let us get rid of PC, which means lying, and tell the truth.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 04:54 AM
If i'm in a room full of white people, and there is 1 black guy. If i don't know that persons name, i'm going to refer to him as "the black guy".

That's what he is. There is nothing wrong with that.

Now of course if he is wearing a baseball cap or something else that no one else has, i'll say "the guy with the baseball cap"

I'm referred to as "The tall guy" by strangers because i'm the tallest of my coworkers.

I guess they shouldn't call me "the tall guy"?!

Give me a freaking break.

There's no need to curtail your inferential abilities because of some misguided politically correct belief.

Sorry but this PC crap makes me feel ill . . .

[edit on 1/6/2010 by JPhish]

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 05:06 AM
What about Native Americans?
I had posts from proud full-on "Indians", and then I've had a post from a Cherokee who said he would knock out the teeth of anyone who calls him an "Indian".
Why are Latin Americans or indigenous Amazonians never called "Native Americans"? Is it a US thing?
I love history, so I post on this, and when I use "Native American" I get rude posts from other Americans who claim they are also "natives" by definition.
It's like damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
see for example

[edit on 6-1-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 05:32 AM
reply to post by halfoldman

What about Native Americans?

What about them?

I had posts from proud full-on "Indians", and then I've had a post from a Cherokee who said he would knock out the teeth of anyone who calls him an "Indian".

The cherokee was more dialed in with contemporary terminology than the "indians"(unless of course they were from India), but jeez, tell him to lighten up. Here's what wicki answers had to say...

For many, Native American is the only choice for expressing respect toward America's indigenous peoples; Indian is seen as wrong and offensive. For others, the former smacks of bureaucracy and the manipulation of language for political purposes while the latter is the natural English term, its inaptness made irrelevant by long use. Fortunately, this controversy appears to have subsided somewhat in recent years, and it is now common to find the two terms used interchangeably in the same piece of writing.

Why are Latin Americans or indigenous Amazonians never called "Native Americans"? Is it a US thing?

I think so, for example, the people in mexico refer to their indigenous people as indios, which means indians. I think amazonians would be native brazilians, or maybe even indians still...lets try wicki answers again..

Native American and Indian are not exact equivalents when referring to the aboriginal peoples of Canada and Alaska. Native American, the broader term, is properly used of all such peoples, whereas Indian is customarily used of the northern Athabaskan and Algonquian peoples in contrast to the Eskimos, Inuits, and Aleuts. Alaska Native (or less commonly Native Alaskan) is also properly used of all indigenous peoples residing in Alaska.

seems in north america at least, that it regional.

I love history, so I post on this, and when I use "Native American" I get rude posts from other Americans who claim they are also "natives" by definition.

those other americans are crazy dont listen to em...

It's like damend if you do, and damned if you don't

blame colombus, he's the one who somehow was allowed to captain a ship set sail to india without even knowing enough about india to realize he hadn't come anywhere near it. exploration fail.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 05:48 AM
The most distinctive trait about a person at first glance is the way they look. That's what makes it easy to differentiate between people in large groups.

There is nothing wrong with race, whether Black, Asian, Chinese, Indian....they are what they are and so what! What's wrong with calling a Chinese guy in a crowd, ' that Chinese guy over there'.

Race is race, and thank goodness we don't all look the same... would be kind of bland if we did and we wouldn't be unique.

People will always point out the most prominent feature of a person, and if it's their skin color or race, so doesn't make it RACISM!

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 07:04 AM
i prefer identifying a person by their shirt color!!!

my mom is 84 years old and grew up during the depression
old habits die hard

she might go to the doctor and say there is another doctor there
she'll say: "he was a colored man"

i always say: "what color was he?"

one day she didn't say "colored man" she said "black man"
i said: "yay for you, mom!"

but, alas, the new habit hasn't taken hold, yet
i don't think i'll be able to get her to the point of identifying anyone by their shirt, but "black" instead of "colored" would still be an improvement!

great thread!

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 07:46 AM
reply to post by Republican08

I think referring to people by the color of their skin, is outdated (sadly it was indate at once) but that we should ignore this, and refer to all people, as PEOPLE! We can only first make this change within ourselves, that's where it all starts, and it will spread, through consciousness raising.

We live in a time when such things are clearly, in broad daylight even, contradictory but nonetheless practiced. We claim to seek a colorblind society while openly voting for people based solely on their skin color.

One recent example was the Mayoral race for the city of Atlanta, Georgia. Of the two leading candidates, one was a white female and the other, a black male. It all made headlines because the white female was running even with the black male in a city that was majority black. The media was asking how this was possible... which is obviously a form of race baiting.

Another example was how in the presidential race of 2008, those who supported the McCain candidacy were often labeled as racist for not voting for Obama... while the same issue was completely ignored for those who did vote for Mr. Obama because of his skin color.

Of course, all of this was far less about race than politics... which once again shows just how dirty this avocation can be where winning at all costs is the name of the game.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke of a day when we would all be judged by the content of our character and not the color of our skin. The irony here is that today, so much of the judging on skin color is not being done by those whom used to discriminate against minorities, but by those minorities themselves.

Racism today isn't isolated to any one ethnicity or color. It is a human frailty that afflicts every corner of our kind.

But I do believe that someday, we will finally put aside our ancient prejudices and racisms, accepting once and for all that our differences are also our blessings.

We will no longer play PC games where speaking one's color will be a sin. To the contrary, we will rejoice in our diversity but then so too also discover that what we are is not nearly as important as who we are.


posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 07:52 AM
When I was living in a hyper-liberal college centered city even the police wouldnt disclose the race of a suspect they were actively looking for.

Be on the lookout for a male 16-20 wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.

Not that it being a white male, black male, or hispanic male would have really zeroed in on the perp but it certainly would have helped narrow it down.

Race was dropped from virtually all statistics in that city. When I say virtually I mean all the "bad" stats. We all knew when a black man or hispanic man graduated college but it was made to appear as though only the white people were committing crimes and white people never finished high school.

Even the obituaries were being skewed. White people never died apparently but everyday the paper was full of black deaths.

It's all okay though. That was a product of "good" racism.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 08:35 AM
reply to post by liquidsmoke206

Because if people who usually do that end up lynching them, or setting fire to a cross on their lawn, or just shooting them, it might have certain connotations a white person who's never been a minority in such a way would ever understand. It's not as if the US has had a particularly stellar history when it comes to racism. Heck, it's still racist as all hell in some places.

Here's a simple solution: ask black folks - if it's more common for black folks to not want to be referred to by their colour, don't do it. It's that simple. It's not for white people to decide.

It's not political correctness gone mad, it's the only way we can move on as a species. Once racism has gone, we can go back to using that phenotype as an identifier, as we might today use height or hair colour.

All of you folks saying "why the big deal?" are pretending that it's the same thing to be white or a minority. It isn't. History might have passed, but it still echoes to this day. Once the echoes go, then you'll be right. Until then you're simply being short-sighted and somewhat arrogant that you can't understand how you're not right.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 08:59 AM
"People who dont refer to a black guy as a black guy think black is somehow no good. There's nothing wrong with black."

-2 Cents

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 10:09 AM

Originally posted by woodwardjnr
He was right though and it has made me think more about how I describe others.

I think that's the best outcome of any of this. If we THINK before we speak. Someone's skin color or race shouldn't necessarily be the first descriptor, even if that's the first thing that comes to our mind, because of the sensitivity of race in this country.

Yesterday, in my water aerobics class, I was saying something about Connie (a Hispanic woman in the class). My other friend asked, "Who's Connie"?

I said, "She's in this class, she usually stands right over there. She's got a dark olive swimsuit..."

When I saw that my friend STILL didn't know who I was talking about, I said, "She's got dark hair, dark skin, she's Hispanic."

So, I described her as I would any other woman in the class, leaving her race till last, just as I would if she was white. That doesn't make me racist, it makes me thoughtful (thinking). Because I don't think Connie would want to be known as "the Hispanic one". That's a bit separatist, in my mind.

For me to feel good, I have to THINK about what I say before I say it. I always try to add a few descriptors before race. It's just the way I WISH to think about people. It all depends on the situation, too. I don't think we should be TOO careful, because that gets into a level of PC-ness that I'm very uncomfortable with.

reply to post by davesidious

Great post. I couldn't agree more!

[edit on 6-1-2010 by Benevolent Heretic]

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 10:14 AM

Originally posted by Republican08

What say you ATS, should socially describing people by their color, be something tolerable?

I dont think its intolerable, I dont do it. But to just describe them as peolpe w/o a color description would be a walk in the correct direction.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 10:18 AM
OP, allow me to offer an alternative suggestion:

Whether "that black guy over there" is offensive or not, depends on the intent/emotion with which the words are spoken.

Intent acts like a carrier-wave of the words that in and of itself mean nothing but only gain meaning with Emotion attached. Anyone can feel if Im referring to "that black guy over there" in a neutral, no-second-thought, matter-of-fact manner or in a matter hateful.

[edit on 6-1-2010 by Skyfloating]

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 10:44 AM
PC is alien to me - and I lived in America for over a decade. Not that I would want to be rude with anyone, especially on purpose. But during the eighties, black people changed official collective name three times. I had an old black friend, an intellectual who held the whole thing shameful and he lived through many things, born before the war.

What strikes me is why on earth would anyone want to be perfect from the start with anybody you don't even know? I mean, there are some black individuals wo do not like to be denominated as such. Then do not point at those individuals and say that black guy over there. Anyway, once you got to this point, you would probably know his name. Say, Freddie over there in the corner etc. Then again, there are those who stick to African - and some would even use the N word but point out that non-blacks should never use it.

I would try to find out what that individual wants from you as politeness. Some are proud to be African-American, some would say call me Freddie, some have forms I didn't think of. I'd say ask him.

When I was assistant teacher in a US high school, fresh frm Europe, I asked the principal at a meeting innocently why on earth they suspended students
when most of them did not want to attend school anyway - why not keep them after class if they did something serious against the rules. The principal, a fat white guy with a Dr. X appelation only confided to me after much sneering and winking, the meaning of which apparently I failed to catch, that most or all of such students would be black, and that parents could rightfully criticize that fact. I said I was missing the point, as such students would not be held in school because they were black, but because they smoked in the bathroom or attacked the teacher with sandwiches etc.
He waved me off tired - why this seemingly intelligent European just never gets it... when everyone does.
The next thing I asked was that since over 80% of students were black anyway, yes, there was a high probability that such group of students held in school after class would end up being all black.

That was not an excuse in the parents' eyes - as he assumed - anyway either.
So I got a fundamental lesson in Western-style hypocrisy. Different from the Soviet system but very similar. Everyone seemed to understand why we had to lie but myself...

Eliminate these lies, and the whole culture will develop enormously. If you trust that your intent is good or OK, and if you are willing to adjust your forms of speech to the individual concerned, it does not matter how you start out. Ask Freddy, listen, man, is it OK with you if I say to a customer "ask that tall black guy beghind the counter..."

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