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Half caste

(213 Posts)
Pam70 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:01:34

This has been troubling me for over a week. A colleague and I were discussing Wife Swap last week and she referred to one of the wives as being half caste.

I hate the term half caste and would never refer to DS or DD as such nor would I ever want them to hear someone call them such.

I didn't say anything to my colleague then and am now wondering if I should. Bear in mind that we live in Northern Ireland which is still relatively new to the idea of multiculturalism.

I don't think she said it in malice or in a derogatory way, it just rolled off her tongue presumably because she has no other term for mixed race?

But if she's using it and she's in her 30s, what hope have I that DS won't be referred to or called such at school by other kids or other parents?

expatinscotland Tue 11-Oct-05 12:02:08

I've never heard that! Does it mean someone who is bi-racial?

Lizzylou Tue 11-Oct-05 12:07:59

Pam, when I was growing up (Midlands) the term Half-caste referred to someone bi-racial and was commonly used, it is only recently that I realised that it was was so entrenched in our vocab that the meaning passed me by..sounds just like someone who used the term without thinking, out of habit...

Rhubarb Tue 11-Oct-05 12:10:30

I have 2 brothers who are half-caste. We have always used that term to describe them and they use it themselves. I don't think it is derogatory at all!

Lizzylou Tue 11-Oct-05 12:11:50

Really? I used the term out of habit not long agao (few years or so) and was practically branded a rascist by friends so now don't ever say it!

OrribleOliveoil Tue 11-Oct-05 12:11:52

I don't think the term half-caste is racist. Have never heard of bi-racial. My friend would describe someone as half-caste and he is so don't see how it could be viewed as derogatory.

CreepyJess Tue 11-Oct-05 12:13:33

I even have issues with the term 'bi-racial' (but that's just me.. I know people I are not meaning offence by it!).. purely because how can anyone by 'of more than one race' when there IS only ONE human race!? When writing essays I tend to use the term 'mixed parentage' or 'multi cultural.. It's not about 'PC-ness' with me tho..

And yes, 'half-caste' was commonly used when I was growing up. It was meant in a derogative way.

In fact, I remember referring to half black/half white children as 'cocoa-pops' when I was little! I meant it in a complimentary way.. I wanted to be that colour too!

Mimi5 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:13:46

i would be interested as i used to use the term but now would say mixed race.I am of the opinion that some people would be offended by this so?

Pam70 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:13:56

Half caste means mixed race, expat.

I have real difficulty with the term because if my kids are half caste, what does it make their friends who are not mixed? Full caste? and is full caste better than half caste?

CreepyJess Tue 11-Oct-05 12:14:17

(In fact my only sibling is black!)

Rhubarb Tue 11-Oct-05 12:14:52

Were the friends who branded you racist coloured or not? Most coloured people (or should that be black Ooeer!) don't have a problem with the terms 'coloured', 'black' or 'half-caste', it's just us whiteys getting our knickers in a twist about the whole pc thing!

OrribleOliveoil Tue 11-Oct-05 12:15:41


Lizzylou Tue 11-Oct-05 12:16:34

They were white, Rhubarb and now I always say "mixed race" as I am paranoid of making the same mistake again!

shimmy21 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:21:30

I think it's definitely an old-fashioned term that's well out of favour and using it although doesn't mean you are racist does show that you are not really very aware of the issues that have gone on around the whole terminology thing.

I work in an office where we do a lot of work on education about discrimination etc and one of our managers used the word in discussion with me last week

colditz Tue 11-Oct-05 12:23:07

You know what?

It is getting to the point where people do not want to refer to anyone by any physical feature, for fear of being branded a racist.

I don't know any of the correct terms, so I just don't mention the subject. I know a lot of people like this. Conversations on this subject are conducted in a furtive whisper. Nobody knows what to Say!

Can we have a list, please, of correct, non-offensive terminology? because if you aren't aware, it's fast becoming taboo to talk about anyone who isn't white. I know mixed race people who offend each other.

OrribleOliveoil Tue 11-Oct-05 12:23:33

I think we tie ourselves in knots with this sort of stuff and it is very pc. There is always a course to go on for this or that, and I think most mixed race/half caste whatever people would think it a bit patronising tbh.

Pam70 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:26:16

ok I'll put my hand up and say that as a person of Chinese origin whose kids are of mixed parentage, I find the term half caste insulting and derogatory.

But then I didn't grow up in the UK and never heard this term until I came to live here. And when I first heard the term, it sounded and still does, derogatory and condescending to me.

Rhubarb Tue 11-Oct-05 12:27:14

Nice one Colditz!
Was I offensive in referring to us all 'whiteys' there? Oh dear!

dawnie1 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:27:36

OOO and Rhubarb I agree with you. I am half indian and half irish and would always describe myself as half caste or mixed race. Neither term bothers me. I have a number of friends with similar heritages who would descibe themselves the same way. The only people who are shocked by our self descriptions are white!!?!! I feel this whole pc thing has gone much too far imo.

ScreamEagle Tue 11-Oct-05 12:29:10

I'm 35 and when I was at school the term half-caste was commonplace.

Nowadays it seems it is un-pc and racist.

Madness IMO and never used by me or anyone I know in a malicious way.

beetlejuice73 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:30:18

My mother always to told me to tell people who asked that I was 'half-caste'. She thought it was something to be proud of and so did/do I. These days if people ask nicely I tend to tell them exactly what my mix is. Would never consider using a term like mixed-race, I'm just 1/2 X and 1/2 Y.

motherinferior Tue 11-Oct-05 12:32:43

I am mixed race (I happen to have white skin but my mother is Asian) and I find the term profoundly offensive.

dawnie1 Tue 11-Oct-05 12:33:42

Pam70, I always think that children of mixed parentage with Chinese heritage are always absolutley beautiful. They really are so cute. I'm sure the lady in Northern Ireland didn't mean it in a negative way its just that nowadays all descriptions are viewed as negative so people are stuck for suitable words to use. Whats acceptable now will be racist next year.

ScreamEagle Tue 11-Oct-05 12:34:01

What makes some people think the term is offensive but others not?

Rhubarb Tue 11-Oct-05 12:36:10

Perhaps we can actually have a list of acceptable words to use. Although I have a feeling that someone will be offended by every single word on there. Are we just being too sensitive?

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