FEBRUARY 6, 2012 5:57AM

Naming Conventions For Entire Cultures and Ethnic Groups

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So, I found this other blog here in the Open Sewer Salon, and in it is a post  about race.  This topic is one with which I'm personally fascinated, so I read.

I thought the post was overly simple and sort of sophomoric (the person who wrote it, who I think admitted to being white, but if not very obviously was), and the writer was one of those liberal, prove I'm a goodie-goodie types.  

Those people don't have the same one black friend I do, and they aren't down with Snoop, so they're squares and racists.  I'm hip, open and definitely not racist. 

Or, that's what I imagine goes through the head of a person like that.  

farnsworth bentlt

And, that's fine, I suppose; better to be a little condescending and also trying to overcome your racist tendencies, except, pre-judging people based on only one or two words or actions is the exact same behavior that drives racism.

But, whatever.  I have to think the person who wrote the thing was young (or, a Midwest housewife...or crap...now I'm doing it...), but regardless, there wasn't much they had to say on the topic that was terribly interesting.

The lone comment, however, because of the commentator's naivety, was a bit interesting, because after giving their qualifications as a straight white person (female, I believe), which includes, but is not limited to - 

 1.  black friend

2.  black spouse

3.  black child

4.  cousin with black spouse

5.  etc.


this person proceeded to go through and note which words she liked to  use when describing people of various races/cultures/whatever (we are but one race, however, race is the term given to the subject, so race is what I use, even though I know it is a misnomer).

And thus, we get to the point of all of this - I'm not sure anyone cares about what someone else prefers to use when describing them.  The whole point of what to call or not call someone (I prefer their name if I can get it) when describing them goes to 2 things -

1.  Common Courtesy - do you truly see them as equal, and thus do you respect their wishes?  And, if you don't know the person/people you are describing intimately, then do you know what the consensus amongst people like them is as far as preference of description goes?  If you do, go with that term.  In lieu of that, use the most polite term of which you can think.


2.  We are lead by our strongest sense, and for most of us, that sense is sight.  The thing we use sight for more than any other thing is discrimination.  

I don't like the red ice cream, so I'm going to eat the blue ice cream.  The yellow berries are poison, so I'm going to avoid those and go eat the purple ones.  Yellow cats are usually aggressive, but brown cats are typically chill if you don't fuck with them.

This is a big, important development in our evolution.  The problem is, it's not nearly as useful any longer and it's certainly not useful for judging people in modern society.  But, we can't help ourselves.

It's also easy.  Stop and look around your immediate surroundings and pick out10 things in those surroundings (not people, things).   If you want, even go touch them, smell them and taste them if you can.  Now think to yourself, if you were going to describe those things to another person, how would you do so?

As it turns out, something has gotta be pretty damn wonderful, smelling or incredibly stinky, (and, this trait must be universal and known by many, as in the case in Limburger Cheese) for you to describe it by smell or anything else but shape, color and size.


The same goes for describing people, and that is really what one is talking about when they speak of what label to give a group of people that large - how should similar people be described in polite conversation?

Can you overcome your instincts, make the effort to know a thing, and then actively practice or use that thing (the thing, in this case, being the currently accepted label for X group of people)?  If so, you're probably a good person.  You're also probably still a racist, assuming you're white, but those are racist tendencies that you can't really overcome on your own because they are so much a part of you that they exist in the subconscious.  You're doing what you can, though, and I can't imagine that any person of color would hold those nasty bits, of which you're hardly even aware, against you.  

If you're not trying to overcome this instinctual shortcomings, you're an asshole (and probably a REALLY BIG racist)

If you're not white and you fall into this latter category, then you're still bigoted, which isn't exactly something of which to be proud.  You just happen to exist outside the majority racial make-up in this particular country, so you lack the power to do anything with your bigotry other than be a dick.

clayton bigsby

But, that ain't gonna stop you from calling anyone in your path a racist, now is it?

Oh, I'm white (-ish), by the way, have no real friends currently of any ethnic mix that wouldn't be described as white, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell you about them.


I don't respect every person I meet, but I've never disrespected a person I haven't met.


Those are the words I try to live by.  So far, on this particular front, anyway, they've not failed me.  I hope, if you've not adopted a similar philosophy, they can work for you as well.

Or, if that's too much to remember and you'd like it boiled down to a golden rule, of sorts, 

Don't be a dick.



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To all of the above: pretty much. Except for the Belgians, those motherfuckers creep me the fuck out.
The French, or the pseudo-French are the exception to all rules involving politeness. DUH!!!
When a Walloon comes at you jabbering "Care for a waffle, mein monsieur?" the only logical reaction is disgust.
maybe, but damn, the special rock sugar they use in certain waffles is da bomb. Also, the waffle cookies with caramel that the dutch give you with coffee are the shit.

Obviously, the French have some food stuff going for them as well, and Catherine Deneuve, of course (damn, that woman was too fine...and, if you ever read about stuff she espouses in her personal philosophy...wicked smart as well), but other than that, nuke the whole region.
Thank you for consistently being one of the more disturbing OSers.