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Should we describe people?

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posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 10:52 AM
I'm a gringo living in Mexico. There aren't really any "blacks" here as in Negroid African descent, but you have every variety of skin tone. My girlfriend's mother is black as midnight, but has straight hair, is all "indio". Her father was pretty white with blue eyes. She is a medium tone. They all describe EVERYONE as their skin color first. She will say, "this girl, she's Mexican, my color, long hair, bla bla" or "lighter than me" or "darker than me" or "white like you" or "black like my mother" to describe anyone.

And the Mexicans discriminate by that color, big time. The lighter your skin the more respect you get. Period.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 05:48 PM
reply to post by liquidsmoke206

Funny how "Indian" has the double meaning in English for both Native Americans and Asian Indians. One would have thought that they'd changed it since 1492. In German an Asian is a "Inder", and a Native American is an "Indianer".
In German the term "neger" for a black person is neutral and acceptable. However, some English people get their knickers in a knot when they overhear us talking German, because they think we're using the "n" word! Luckily in South Africa the "n" word is not that big a deal, we have a "k" word (which I will not repeat).
"Native" is not pc in SA, and is considered quite insulting, mainly because it was used in apartheid euphemisms, such as "The Extention of Native Education Act" (when blacks were barred from white universities). Many back townships didn't have street names, just NY (native yard) numbers. So it's a bit strange to us that anyone would want to identify with "native".
I don't want to be rude, but want to know: can one still by a sweet called "'n-word'balls" in the US? I haven't seen them here in ages.
Apparently in Australia they have a popular cheese called "coon cheese" which they didn't find offensive at all (not sure if that's still the case, perhaps someone from Australia could enlighten me).

[edit on 6-1-2010 by halfoldman]

[edit on 6-1-2010 by halfoldman]

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 06:13 PM
reply to post by redoubt

But referring to people by the color of their skin with normal non-offensive adjectives isn't racist. Thats what I don't understand here. How is this thread even about racism? I don't see anyone offended to being referred to as white, or black or anything else. And I would argue that anyone who is offended by that may have a guilty conscious.

reply to post by davesidious

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.

I don't know what century you're living in but we have a black president, racism still exists but it's changed, and most people make it out to be worse than it actually is. I think classism is always the biggest issue, so does this mean we can no longer refer to people as rich, middle class, or poor? And for god's sake could you not refer to white people as "white" people? They are simply "people who have never been a minority, but may be some day."

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.

here's a way to make that solution not so simple, take out all the references to color since that what you're advocating anyway. It starts to not be as clear....why? because it's missing a crucial part of it's text called adjectives, that BTW aren't offensive to anyone. I suppose you should take out the word simple too just to be don't wanna be offending any solutions out there.

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.

the only way we can move on as a species is to eliminate racism? and you think eliminating descriptive words regarding someone's normal characteristics of skin tone are a key stepping stone to this goal? And after racism has been deemed gone, we can go back to having a skin tone?
Sheer madness...this thread is full of some of the most disjointed logic I have ever heard. I suppose we should do surgery on everyones eyes so that they can only see one color. If that pesky brain of ours realizes that there's more than one color out there it could be racism!!! GASP!

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.

You sound like someone from my parents generation. The echos are going going going....just look around you, but again I don't think skin tone references have anything to do with racism. You're just describing someones appearance, it's weird to find that offensive.

reply to post by CaptChaos

Yeah you're right actually, the mexicans I used to kick it with did the same thing, lighter skinned girls were often referred to by a slang word, simply meaning, "white girl." The masculine version of the word is used for me, it wasn't offensive though, just a way of describing me that was universally understood. I didn't notice any type of disrespect for people based on skin tone in the parts of mexico that I've been to.

reply to post by halfoldman

I don't know what sweet you're referring to buddy, never heard of it. And I'm pretty sure that's how the term native american came into being, so that they could be differentiated from actual indians who come from india. I just don't think it's caught on everywhere.

posted on Jan, 6 2010 @ 06:56 PM
reply to post by liquidsmoke206

Re: the "n-wordball" sweet, according to Wikipedia it is a kind of "gobstopper" that is nowadys called a "jawbreaker" in the US. In Sweden it is a kind of confectionary, and many countries retain the name. The last time I heard of it was in Bill Bryson's "The Thunderbolt Kid" about growing up in Des Moines in the 1950s. From your response I assume it fell into disuse around that time.

posted on Apr, 9 2010 @ 08:33 PM
I don't think we can completely avoid noticing and describing people by their skin tone, but I like your idea to practice not doing so.

I became a little disappointed in my mother about this type of thing recently. She had met my nephew's new girlfriend. When I asked what the girl is like, my mother whispered to me (altho we were already talking privately lol): "she's black".

What bothered me is that she couldn't tell me anything else about the girl, only that the girl is darker than we are. She couldn't tell me whether the girl was tall or short, fat or thin, quiet or loud, or how she was dressed, or whether she seemed nice.

I wouldn't really call my mother "racist". I'm sure she wasn't outwardly rude to the girl or anything, but it's a little unfair of her to not even notice anything else about her.

So, I guess I don't see a problem with quickly describing a person by their skin tone in some situations, as long as we don't act like it tells more about the individual than it does.

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