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Am I the only one who finds it irritating when people refer to 'non-whites'?

(39 Posts)
ClairityVerity Wed 22-Jan-14 23:35:31

I walked past a news headline today saying that health warnings were being issued to 'non-whites'. I found the choice of phrase a touch irritating - it comes across as saying 'your ethnic identity exists only in relation to white people'. I'm sure that wasn't the intention, it's just a clumsy term to use. I think the favoured US phrase 'people of colour' is clumsy as well, but not clumsy and irritating grin.

Do any of you white MNers find 'people of colour' irritating to you as a non-brown wink?

Is there a phrase which would say it better than either of these two options?

HanSolo Wed 22-Jan-14 23:38:49

I would only ever take it to refer to washing!

HanSolo Wed 22-Jan-14 23:39:37

"Health warnings offered to people in ethnic minorities" would seem a better choice of words.

ClairityVerity Wed 22-Jan-14 23:42:18

grin at Han (my favourite Star Wars character, as it happens!

I do prefer your suggestion. You should be a journalist!

phoolani Wed 22-Jan-14 23:44:05

Definitely irritating. And white-normative. And lazy.

HanSolo Wed 22-Jan-14 23:45:50

grin My favourite character too! wink

I may be eloquent, but I'm probably not terse enough to write headlines.

BookroomRed Wed 22-Jan-14 23:46:40

Agreed that it's white-centric. 'People of colour' screams 'American' to me, to the point where I would find it very strange to hear it being used of non-Americans. Also sounds rather stilted, somehow...?

Which reminds me of one of the fights in the Harry Potter fandom, aeons back, when American fan fic writers regularly referred to the minor character Dean Thomas, a black Londoner, as 'African-American'.

Not that 'people in ethnic minorities' trips off the tongue, I suppose.

if it was one of those things related to sunlight & Vitamin D, in which case people with dark skin are affected disproportionately, then "non-white" is actually relevant?

otherwise, if it's an actual racial thing, then I suppose they need to be more specific - but otoh, headline-speak doesn't have space to differentiate between African/Indian subcontinent/Asian/Oriental???

maybe they shouldn't put stuff like that in a headline?

HelpTheSnailsAreComingToGetMe Wed 22-Jan-14 23:52:38

I think non-whites annoys me a little bit because there are very few things which affect people from all ethnic groups other than white in the same way without also affecting white people. It seems not to be a useful grouping to me. Even with racism people from different races often have different experiences. But I guess maybe sometimes it just seems the least clumsy way of saying what the writer wants to get across.

millefleur Wed 22-Jan-14 23:58:46

It depends on the context eg PP said bit D deficiency, in which case 'non white' people are at greater risk

also, if you are talking politically/historically/socially, then the term 'non white' is very relevant IMO, as we do still live in a 'white normative' society

millefleur Thu 23-Jan-14 00:00:50

What was the health warning, out of interest?

ClairityVerity Thu 23-Jan-14 00:02:06

millefleur - ...but not a white normative world.

The article was about BME, so not a skin thing.

ClairityVerity Thu 23-Jan-14 00:03:14

Nicestsmile - yep, I'm sure space was the deciding factor. Would be nice to have a suitable phrase that isn't white-normative, hence my starting this (my first thread on MN in aaaages).

millefleur Thu 23-Jan-14 00:07:42

But you cant just pretend its a level playing field and we are all the same. Non-white people do have different shared experiences, because they are not white. And so the term is relevant and doesn't need changing IMO

StumbledintoMayhem Thu 23-Jan-14 00:09:48

I think the story was probably about how we measure obesity and overweightness. Essentially the points we use now (25 - 30 is overweight, 30+ is obese) only works for white people and for other ethnic groups the BMIs need to be lower to avoid the risks associated with being overweight/obese.

I was only listening on the radio with half an ear and some squawking children but it did sound like it was all other ethnic groups.

ClairityVerity Thu 23-Jan-14 00:17:22

Interestingly, Stumbled, black people typically have denser bones than white people, which would mean that the BMI would show us incorrectly as overweight. <<sticks two fingers up at white-normative BMA>>


Too many similar acronyms.

mille - but that doesn't explain why we should be described as being 'people who aren't white'. White people are in the minority globally, so if anything you should be referred to as a 'non-brown' - you differ from the norm.

See what I mean? It just ain't nice.

mirai Thu 23-Jan-14 00:22:12

I teach English abroad and in a textbook I use it says: "Martin Luther King worked for equal rights for non-whites in the US." My teeth itch every time I get to that lesson!

ClairityVerity Thu 23-Jan-14 00:23:09

grin at mirai

StumbledintoMayhem Thu 23-Jan-14 00:23:57
millefleur Thu 23-Jan-14 00:25:34

I hear what you are saying but i disagree. Of course white people are in the minority globally, but we live in the uk. Context

i think the thing i would object to is that BMIs and other health parameters are White normative'. Same ad them damn baby height/weight charts. My kids have always been way off the top of them

millefleur Thu 23-Jan-14 00:27:56

The headline nor article says 'non-white'

it refers to minority ethnic groups


millefleur Thu 23-Jan-14 00:33:51

Its a bit mystifying however...

it says people of African, caribbean and Asian descent and other ME groups are at a higher risk than the population at large

that is the population at large! All barring white-british/european..

what about white carribean?

its either shoddy research, or shoddy reporting

millefleur Thu 23-Jan-14 00:35:58

Hasn't BMI been pretty much discounted ad crap anyway?

StumbledintoMayhem Thu 23-Jan-14 00:36:36

Lots of science reporting is shoddy.

And this isn't the poster the OP saw today, it's a link to the same story reported elsewhere. confused

ClairityVerity Thu 23-Jan-14 00:47:08

Oh god. MORE importantly than this whole PC language debate is that, having read that report, I (a size 10-12) am apparently now obese.

Fuck 'em.

<<scoffs KitKat>>

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