Wednesday, November 28, 2007

boring beige?

In a world where, especially in North America, being politically correct is checked at every turn, there are places where this is not so much of a rule to abide by. In North America, the words 'persons of X origin' is not only becoming commonplace, it's also deemed as the appropriate term to use. But isn't it exhaustive, at times to try and remember the right vernacular? Why can't we just say Black, Brown, Oriental or White instead of African, South Asian, Asian or Caucasian thereby worrying about offending someone? When did things become so black and white? Why is it acceptable for a person of colour to use the politically incorrect term, but a serious faux pas for a White person to use anything but? When did things become so grey?

As a minority, a person of colour, I have no problem using the 'politically incorrect' word. No problem at all. Perhaps it's because of my minority status, that I can get away with it. And it's true. Hey, you can call me brown. I won't be offended. Heck, to make things easier, I use the word to describe myself. Most times I no longer use the word Indian in North America, because some will stupidly ask me, 'Native Indian'? Well no, because then I would have flat out said 'Native', right? Oh and a heads up to the family & friends back on the other side of the world - we 'Indians' in North America are referred to as East Indian or South Asian, not Asian - that's for the Oriental folk and not just Indian, because there are present a lot of West Indians. And as I've said earlier, it's very clear cut in North America.

In Bermuda, no one's afraid to use the word 'black'. Not even the white folk. You can forget about being politically correct and perhaps there's a reason. Unlike in America where the word African American is used, using the word African in Bermuda may cause some confusion due to the presence of African expats here on the island. Also, using persons of African origin can become tedious to say, just as persons of any other origin. Over here it's, Black, White or Portuguese (a post for another day-I promise). Or if you really want to get down to it, it's either local or expat (wink wink). Getting back to and when talking about colour, it's refreshing to just get down to the basics. So, what brought this post on? While at a book store a few weeks earlier, I came across this sign. Now if this were in North America, the sign would read African/ American or African authors. But here it is... They're saying it loud & proud.

You know what though - all this talk of colour is going to be moot in a few hundred years.
According to Russell Peters, we're all going to be BEIGE.


ZenDenizen said...

I've been ranting about this topic myself for months now. I think a lot of of it stems from reading too much SepiaMutiny and of course UltraBrown. I'm sick of the word brown. I'm Indian.

~ Ms. Cute Pants ~ said...

I never used the word Brown until I came to Canada. I think it's to make the ABD's feel like they are part of the group and also to incorporate the West Indians, Pakistanis, Bengalis, Fijians, Indians in Africa, et al.

The way I see it, Brown is better than 'Paki', the Black equivalent of the N word (which I can't stand to hear). Funnily enough, when I was in the final & my only year of high school in Toronto, I was one day rudely called PAKI. By a black girl! How's that for the pot calling the kettle black? Looking back on it now makes me laugh...

iceice said...

I love this entry. I could not agree more. During my years in Bermuda, not that many of my friends were "white" - a lot were from Indian, pakistani or African descent but you never heard me talking about that. It did not really even occur to me. That was one of the things I love about Bermuda - none of that stuff matters. Who cares...we expats are from so many different places, it would be ridiculous to make a production about who is "african" and who is "east indian" and so on. What would people refer to me as "Ami who is white or Caucasion"? Why would someone need to use the color of my skin to describe me? It will be hard to get back to the world of politically correct descriptions that are needed here in Canada where skin color seems to be more of an issue.

~ Ms. Cute Pants ~ said...

Ice Ice: Thanks for the comment! It's so true. Among expats in Bermuda, a person's colour is not so much even a topic of conversation, but only among expats. We've got that common thread, an instant mutual understanding of expat life & its trials.

And while colour is more of an issue in Canada, it's only to be politically correct so as not to offend the minority groups.

KimPossible said...

I liked your blog. We do get hung up on color. I am here in Atlanta and it is a HUGE issue here. I have seen and heard it all. Which in return feeds into racism, name calling, stereotyping. It is good to hear that you keep it pretty simple in Bermuda.

I see that you have lived in Dubai. OMG! I want to go there so desperately. Please tell me all about it. How was it? I always said once I have children I don't want their first vacation to be to Disney World in Florida. I want them to go to Dubai or France.

Thanks again for this blog. Please keep in touch and come and visit my blogspot.