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To ask someone from an ethnic minority......

(107 Posts)
SuedeEffectPochette Wed 24-Apr-13 17:08:32

......what is pc these days? My inlaws persistently say things like "do you remember that coloured girl......?" and this makes me cringe and I have to tell them that it isn't on to use this phrase any more. I know in America saying "black" is also offensive. So please can someone tell me what is the least offensive way to refer to someone's race (if indeed it is necessary to do that - but sometimes it is)......
And what about people from the Indian subcontinent - will I be causing offence to describe you as "Indian" as you may be Pakistani etc...... I am just ensuring that I don't accidentally cause offence and turn into my in laws!

EldritchCleavage Tue 30-Apr-13 01:09:26

Also why don't we say British African or similar rather than Afro Caribbean as standard?

We do. I would never refer to myself as African-Caribbean ('Afro' is a hairstyle) and nor would any of my friends or relatives. British African (or African British) is common. Your GP sounds v outdated.

Oriental is not used now and causes massive offence in the US.

breatheslowly Tue 30-Apr-13 20:42:08

Presumably we would need both African Carribean and British African to distinguish between those whose families came from Africa straight to the UK and those of Carribean descent. Or do people of those ethnic backgrounds not make this distinction themselves?

ComposHat Tue 30-Apr-13 23:04:32

Or do people of those ethnic backgrounds not make this distinction themselves?

Erm very much so. Some African-Caribbean friends have been quite disparaging about British Africans, seeing them as uptight and unsophisticated country cousins. One friend in particular was convinced all british africans were either eternal students, illegal minicab drivers or Internet fraudsters.

Kewcumber Tue 30-Apr-13 23:16:05

How old is your DD, OP? Because I don't use "black" to describe people when I'm explaining race/colour to my (mixed race) DS. People aren;t black or white or yellow they are all skin coloured and there are almost as many skin colours as there are people.

I explain that people use the word "black" or white as a short cut to describing people whose ancestors were originally from northern Europe and "black" for those whose family came from Africa or somewhere else hot.

DS is also one of those people labelled "chinese" becasue we aren;t used to using the generic "Asian", I generally correct them "central Asian" or "from Kazakhstan" which causes much confusion as most of them aren't aware there is any such place - they think Sacha Baron Cohen made it up!

breatheslowly Wed 01-May-13 00:05:24

ComposHat - I thought they would, but I think that ethnicity is a bad area to make assumptions, particularly if, like me, you come from a not very diverse area and have limited personal experience of people from non-white ethnic groups. Thanks for clarifying.

VenusRising Wed 01-May-13 09:39:45

LittleRed, I think South Africa had its own special brand of racial differentiation : for apartheid to work there they needed to say someone was white, or black, or coloured.
All the Asian population, like ghandi, who was born there iirc, were coloured, not black.

Fwiw I think that when the economic sanctions were in force, Japan still traded with SA, for the dubious pleasure of being classified as white by J'burg!

So 'coloured' means something quite particular in SA.

I must say I always describe people from their hairstyles: the woman with the short blond hair, the woman with the braids, the woman with the long black hair, the woman with the pink hair, you get my drift.
I'm colour blind, as I think we are all coffee coloured, in our own ways-from espresso to flat white.
I love hearing about other cultures; say, Bavarian, or learning how to cook using ingredients we don't find in Europe.

As for people asking me where I'm from, I don't really know, a lot of my relatives come from all over the world, with Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Buddhist faiths. So I say "I'm from Earth, even though I look like I'm from Venus"! grin

TheHumancatapult Wed 01-May-13 09:49:11

i hate this I tick white britsh for my dc and they then look at my son and say are you sure

But then i say well then do you have a half european box and they still do hmm look and say tick the mixed race box

ds2 is half italian but to be fair he is very dark even for Italian .Hair and skin

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