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 Post subject: Re: What a crying shame!
Post #81 Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 6:08 am 

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Over the years I have found that explaining why you think a word should not be considered offensive is rarely a fruitful course of action.

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 Post subject: Re: What a crying shame!
Post #82 Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 9:16 am 
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Bill Spight wrote:
FWIW, colored person was my late wife's term for herself. ;)

Bill I think this statement is very apropos because it highlights a key difference in the function of language that seems to be driving this disagreement. Broadly, I hear you and John focusing on the "intent" of the label. To simplify (I hope not too much), I hear you and John arguing that John's use of the term was not made with the intent of being offensive and conversely interpreting the word as necessarily implying offense is incorrect. This argument is then buttressed by the fact that there many other uses of the term that clearly have no offensive intent -- i.e. "oriental rug" or, in your wife's case, that members of the group choose to apply the label to themselves. Everything you are saying is completely reasonable and I would be shocked if anyone thought that John intended offense.

I think (and others should correct me if I've gotten this wrong) the argument that Kirby and others are making is a bit different. To use your statement, the key issue is not the term that your wife used to describe herself but rather the fact that it was she who chose the term. Words are powerful. And names and labels particularly are particularly powerful. The argument as I understand it is that historically marginalized populations have had labels applied to them. The act of choosing (or excluding) a label for self-reference is a statement that the historical position of the group is being rejected -- it is an act of empowerment. In this context, refusing to abide by that's groups choice not to use a particular name repudiates their right to choose their own labels. Conversely, abiding by the group's label communicates that you understand and acknowledge their right to choose what they are called.

And at an important level, the right to choose one's label is a basic social convention. Imagine that I am introduced to someone who calls himself "Bob", but I insist on calling him "Chris". The first time I call him "Chris" he'll likely say, "I'm sorry, but I think you misunderstood. My name is 'Bob'. Please do not call me 'Chris'." If at that point, I then intentionally persist in calling him "Chris", this would be quite offensive. Same principle applies to continuing to use a nickname for someone after they have let it be known that they dislike it. This example, of course, removes the larger political and historical context that terms like "Oriental" have from the discussion. But in doing so, I think it highlights the contravention of the basic social norm and the importance of having the right to choose one's own labels.

Here is another example that I think begins to incorporate some of the historical elements and illustrates why the context can amplify the offense. (I've modified the names and changed some details to ensure privacy.) I have a cousin whose given name is Jim. I grew up calling him Jim, and it was the name that everyone in our larger family used for him. Jim struggled with some very severe health issues for a few decades and when he got them under control, he felt like a completely new person. To affirm this dramatic change, he decided that he wanted to be called "Charles". To him, "Jim" represented someone with whom he no longer identified. To be sure, remembering to call him "Charles" after having called him "Jim" for 30+ years was extremely hard (family members still slip up!). But if someone had refused his request and insisted on calling him "Jim" -- even after being told the basis for the request -- it is hard to see that refusal as anything other than a challenge to his perceptions of how significantly his life had changed.

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 Post subject: Re: What a crying shame!
Post #83 Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:15 am 

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Aidoneus wrote:
Bill Spight wrote:
Brooklyn wrote:
Change is a constant and what society considers acceptable in the past may not be in accepted in the present or future. In the 1960's the African-Americans were referred to as "colored people" by the majority of society but that term is no longer used.

FWIW, colored person was my late wife's term for herself. ;)

My parents, born between 1895 and 1903, used the term colored people without rancor...but times change. I think that if I referred to my (African-American) wife as Colored, I might be sleeping least for awhile :-(

;) IIUC, person of color is still in vogue. :)

I doubt if you ever have occasion to refer to each other by race, anyway. :)

When talking about Winona to others, I sometimes used another of her locutions, "a member of one of the tri-racial families of the upper South". :cool: :D

The Adkins Principle:

At some point, doesn't thinking have to go on?

— Winona Adkins

Looking for perfection is the only way to motivate yourself.
— Ronnie O'Sullivan

"Elvis, can't we please go home?"
— One of the Jordanaires

 Post subject: Re: What a crying shame!
Post #84 Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:21 am 

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Dear White Fella
When I am born I’m black
When I grow up I’m black
When I am sick I’m black
When I go out in sun I’m black
When I git cold I’m black
When I git scared I’m black
And when I die I’m still black.

But you white fella
When you’re born you’re pink
When you grow up you’re white
When you git sick you’re green
When you go out in sun you go red
When you git cold you go blue
When you git scared you’re yellow
And when you die you’re grey
And you got the cheek to call me coloured?

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 Post subject: Re: What a crying shame!
Post #85 Posted: Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:40 am 
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Locking this thread because it's derailed from talking about Lee Changho to talking about something very unrelated.

This post by Solomon was liked by 3 people: ez4u, Joaz Banbeck, kj01a
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