Social Question

chinchin31's avatar

Why is it in america so many people call mixed race people black when it is clear they are not fully black?

Asked by chinchin31 (1783points) September 29th, 2014

I feel like in America there is still this obligation to identify with one particular race. I feel like in America people struggle a lot with identifying people as mixed race.

For example, Obama is not black, he is mixed race. Yet people keep calling him the first black president.

I also notice this a lot among the black community. There are a lot of actors and actresses that are mixed race but yet people call them black just because one of their parents are black or they have natural brown skin.

For me coming from a country / background where mixed race people are clearly described as mixed race, I don’t understand it.

If segregations and slavery was abolished so long ago, why are people still using this “one drop of blood rule”? As a non- American I find it very odd and I know most of my non-American friends find it strange too.

Mixed race people do not have an identity crisis . They are human beings just like every one else. They are not white, they are not black. They are mixed race. Why can’t people just say that?

I even remember one episode of Top Model where the presenter was being so rude. She kept insisting that this model that was half-white , half-Asian, call herself Asian because she had many Asian features. I actually found that to be offensive yet no one on the show said anything.

Can you Americans please explain? Why do so many Americans still have so many race issues in the 21st century? Why the need to label people so much?

I come from a very multi-cultural background and country and so for me sometimes, I find it very odd the way on American TV people are so clearly labelled as black or white or asian or whatever as though it is a sin to call someone mixed race.

Why is this ? You can be honest.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

96 Answers

hearkat's avatar

It’s based on the “One Drop” Rule.

Segregation didn’t end all that long ago, and still exists, though not legally. It’s also related to the culture with which one identifies – not so much about how one looks.

muppetish's avatar

My short, internal answer is: people identify the way that they identify. It’s not up to me or anyone else to police identity. This is much the same way that I feel about gender identification. What’s it to you, or anyone else, if I identify as being gender-neutral and not as a binary gender? What’s it to you, or anyone else, if I identify as Mexican, or half-Mexican, or half-white? My identity is my identity and mine alone.

My longer, external answer is: identity is incredibly political. Not choosing to vocally identify as being non-binary contributes to our erasure. It gives us a less of a voice. It means that we will be less recognized. It means that our rights will be put on the back burner. Not choosing to identify as Mexican contributes to our erasure.

Mixed makes me feel like a dog, like I’m not pure-bred, no certificate of authenticity for me. Hyphenation is a huge source of contention of X-American ethnic groups, especially if they—like me—are so removed from the generation that actually immigrated here. It’s not an easy thing to navigate, let alone communicate.

Granted, I have navigated this question from the perspective of a minority other than black. I am not black. I cannot speak for those who are. But I don’t doubt that some of these sentiments are similar. There’s a history. There’s a story. Identification is personal. Not everyone approaches it the same way.

marinelife's avatar

Because there is no good term for mixed heritage. Shall we coin one?

KNOWITALL's avatar

SOme Americans are gene pool snobs. In my area it’s an insult to imply you have bred with another race. For some not all

Darth_Algar's avatar

Obama himself identifies as black. What business is it of anyone else to say that he is not?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Darth a lot of mulatto’s identify as black. Traditionally whites didn’t accept them & they didn’t inherit.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Can you Americans please explain? Why do so many Americans still have so many race issues in the 21st century? Why the need to label people so much?
I can’t say which is most prevailing but part of it I believe is the government. When they (the government) came up with that farce they called Affirmative Action, they needed to be able to say X amount of people that fell into the category of benefitting from it actually were, so they had to be identified or classified. Before, I believe it came from Jim Crow politics that if you appeared Black, and had Black genes, no matter what else you were, you were Black and thus excluded from certain places to live, jobs, social structures, etc. With people themselves, I think as it has been said already, the subconscious desire to not be seen as a half-breed. That being mixed and not one breed or the other was like a mutt without papers and thus have no value. Obama is called the 1st Black president when he IS NOT, he is maybe the 1st president that is part Black, but I am sure there were other presidents that were not all one race but a blend of two; British/French, Irish/Welsh, etc. but because they appeared Caucasian no one made a deal of it. Some Entertainers that are part B lack but in such amount it is not very dominant avoid claiming that because of the still latent opposition to Blacks in the US. Which of those occurrences is most pressing I can’t say, but those would be my digest answer to your question.

CWOTUS's avatar

A long time ago a farmer had two horses, and he wanted to sell one. However, the horses looked so much alike that it was hard to tell them apart – but he didn’t think of them as exactly equal, and he knew which one he wanted to keep, and which one to sell. But the horses were almost identical in every way: same age; same long, flowing manes and tails; nearly identical strength, height, and weight, and they were both solid-colored, with no patches of “off” colors. How could he describe to a prospective buyer that “that is the one for sale, but not t’other one”?

He finally decided to measure the horses closely, and he determined that the white one was a half-inch shorter than the black one.

We’re not supposed to even notice color any more.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Diverse Americans are probably better than most countries at handling different cultural issues. But we still have a long way to go. I have no idea why we need to label everyone with something. You’re a person first, you genetic background makes no difference to me.

JLeslie's avatar

Partly tradition. There was a lot of racism and so if you had some black in you, you were tainted. Being half black didn’t make you any better than black.

Also, partly because it is understood. If I say, “the black man in the crowd,” and he has features closer to a black man than a caucasian man, then everyone knows who I am talking about.

In the past terms like quadroon were used, one quarter black, but that went out of favor. They still were black according to white people. The black community in recent years, maybe in the past too, seems to favor lighter skin.

I have a girlfriend whose uncle lived as a white doctor back in the day of segregation. His mix turned out to leave him with not very dark skin and narrow features. No one knew he was black where he lived.

Obama is black, one because he chooses to identify as black, two because looking at him he will be pigeon holed as black, and he can’t ignore that reality. He certainly could call himself biracial if he wanted to, nothing stopping him.

The reason we say he is the first black president is because of the history of the US regarding how we treated black people, and anyone who can be identified as black is a symbol of how far we have come. Not that it means racism is over, just that it is a big difference from treating black men like property.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Jleslie My only disagreement is that lighter skin did mean you were higher class, house sevants & mistresses maybe.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I’m quite dark. I had a woman ask me if I was mixed race. I laughed. I could be, I don’t know for sure. I thought I was English and Welsh, until a gene test shows I have Eastern European blood in the mix. Who knows what else is in there?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Adirondack It’s funny with America’s race issues, dark skin/ tan is sought via tanning but not by blood. Weird.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

We are mostly mixed race here in the states. Most “black” americans are also of “white” ancestry. Many “white” people have African ancestry. Racism really should not apply here.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@KNOWITALL That is funny. Dark is okay by tan, but not by blood. Mine comes because I love it outdoors.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@JLeslie Obama is black, one because he chooses to identify as black, two because looking at him he will be pigeon holed as black, and he can’t ignore that reality.
He never had a choice; he was damned if he did, or damned if he did not. If he would have said he was anything other than Black, he would have had people on both side of the fence saying the reason he did not embrace being Black was because he was ashamed or wanting to distance himself from the Black population. The Republicans would have had a field day with it; it would have been like a bone in their mouth they would never quit gnawing on. If they are making a stink about a Starbuck salute what do you think they would have made of that? ”President disrespects Blacks by denying his heritage because he feels Blacks are inferior”, yeah, it would have gone over like a lead zeppelin.

kritiper's avatar

It gets very difficult to identify someone on what they are based on exact racial genetics rather than what basic color their skin is without further inquiry. If you want to be particular about it, I am Anglo-Saxon-Irish-Cherokee. Should I be sensitive about someone just calling me “white?” How would you know otherwise, generally speaking? So people call me white and I have no problem with that. I mean no disrespect when I refer to a dark skinned person as black. If I was questioned about it by any other color of skin person, and what my terminology was, I’d pull my Anglo-Saxon-Irish-Cherokee card and ask that they call me that instead of white. Being called “black” or “white” should not be a point for question or derision.
And how dark a person’s skin (whatever color) is may be because of how much sun they got this weekend, not what jobs they or their families may have had at some time in the past. Everybody tans. And every skin color may vary in hue sans sun.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@kritiper I wish I could get a tan. I simply burn.

kritiper's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Sorry to hear that. May all your burns be very minor ones!

JLeslie's avatar

Being black is not only about skin color it is about the facial features. It was back in the day anyway. I think the more technical term they used was negros when they in whatever ivory tower at the time were trying to define the races, and negros had broader features than caucasians. Asians had other distinguishing features. This is why tanning is different than being a light skinned black person, which @KNOWITALL mentioned. Although, she is right that it is interesting how the desire for a certain color skin changes over the years, and it is ironic people might be prejudiced against people with dark skin and then will pay to tan their own skin. Now, we have enough mixing going on that all sorts of features show up on all sorts of people with all sorts of shades of skin. I think it’s better that way.

@KNOWITALL I do think you are correct now that you say it. Lighter skin was more desirable even then.

I remember years ago I worked with one girl from the islands who one day told me thatbshe loved when the summer would come and she would get really black. I was surprised and sayd, “really?” Or, something similar, and she said again that she liked when her skin was very dark. Then another black woman I worked with about 5 years ago one day asked me how she can prevent from getting dark in the sun. I guess she never really was coached about suntan lotion while growing up, while I was slathered in the stuff my whole life.

@Hypocrisy_Central I think it was to Obama’s political advantage to say he was black. I do think he he could have used biracial if he wanted to, but I actually believe he genuinely identifies as a black man. As far as society deciding for him, it’s the same for Jews. We can’t decide we aren’t Jewish. If someone finds out we were raised Jewish or a parent is Jewish, then people can’t just ignore it. I remember Jelly Qingu saying that even though he doesn’t call himself Jewish anymore other people wouldn’t let it go. I completely understand that. Hell, I admit to doing it, even though I respect however a person identifies themself. Or, in my mind I respect it, but with Qingu he is still “Jewish” to me it’s awful. LOL. My own FIL is an exJew, and it’s strange and not all at once. An antisemite certainly doesn’t care if a Jew practices their religion or not, born a Jew always a Jew.

I think younger people today who are a racial mix embrace all their ethnic backgrounds more than in previous generations.

Darth_Algar's avatar

@KNOWITALL ” a lot of mulatto’s identify as black. Traditionally whites didn’t accept them & they didn’t inherit.”

What does that have to do with what I said?

eno's avatar


Probably because it is easier to reference and because people don’t know simpler words to define it. In my area, in the U.S, we refer to someone of mixed race as a mongrel. That is the accurate term.

pleiades's avatar

Here’s food for thought. I’m half white half Filipino, but 90% of people I’ve met, thought I was Mexican at first. Go figure!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@eno This is the second answer of yours that has made me wonder where the hell you’re from. Care to divulge? If it makes you uncomfortable, I understand, but you stand out to me.

I also wanted to point out that most people don’t say “mulatto” anymore, and most people definitely don’t say “mongrel”. Both are considered unacceptable, but especially the latter.

eno's avatar

What does my answer have to do with part of the U.S I live in?

Well, first of all, you don’t know most people and I haven’t seen or heard of any statistics to very your statement.

Secondly, the word mongrel is not a slur word, so why would it be unacceptable? It means:

an individual resulting from the interbreeding of diverse breeds or strains
a cross between types of persons or things

Do you also find the word niggardly unacceptable? Even though it means a person who is stingy, not generous.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@eno Your answer has absolutely nothing to do with where you live, I’m simply curious, so I asked.

Just because the word “mongrel” isn’t a slur word according to the dictionary, that doesn’t mean that people who would be defined by it would not take offense at the word, and I know people personally who find it absolutely unacceptable who are of a mixed background. Which means that I’m going to pay attention to how it makes them feel, regardless of anything else, and in turn I will avoid using a word if it is deemed offensive.

As for your last question, my answer is no, I do not find it unacceptable – and it can’t even, logically, be used as a comparison against defining people as “mongrels”.

eno's avatar

I don’t provide that kind of info.

Ah, so now you reduced your statement from most people to only a few people of mixed background that you know personally. Given your situation, it would make sense for you to not use that word if you value their friendship.

However, as I said before, in my area, mongrel is an accepted term.

I’m sure there are all sorts of people that find various things offensive, but that doesn’t mean everyone needs to adapt to their feelings, especially if they’re not their friend.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

No, it’s not just a few people I know. In general, it’s an easy thing to understand why a lot of people may be offended by being labeled a “mongrel”. You said in your area (which is partly what got me curious about where you’re from, but it’s your choice not to divulge, which I can understand) “mongrel” is an accepted term. Accepted by who? Those using it to label people, or those being labeled by it? Because it makes a huge difference.

As for your last point? I can understand your logic – to a certain degree. However, past a certain point, it goes out the window. I don’t avoid saying certain things only because I might be friends with someone who may find a word I use offensive. Should a white person who has no black friends find it acceptable to use the word “nigger”? If people aren’t comfortable using certain words around everyone, it’s a word they shouldn’t be using at all.

eno's avatar

The demographics in my area is over 95% white variation, so logically the word mongrel would be accepted by whites, however, from personal experience, when I did encounter mongrels once in a while, I never heard any feedback about my use of the word.

Like I said, without some sort of statistic, or universally accept standard, there is no way of knowing how many mongrels accept the word mongrel. The closest evidence you have is Webster’s dictionary and it doesn’t label this word as a slur.

The word nigger is a word that expresses one’s hate for black people. That is its meaning. Mongrel is not a word that expresses one’s hate for mixed races. Realistically, if a white person finds the word nigger as an acceptable word, but experiences harmful feedback from blacks who hear it, then X white person would no longer use that word around blacks. However, the word would still be accepted among white circles, depending on the area.

To answer your question, there is no problem when words that some people find offensive are accepted and used by groups of a specific ethnicity. So whites that use the word nigger within a group of whites is not a problem for anyone. There is no harm.

Here2_4's avatar

I don’t know anyone personally who is not mixed race. The United States is a blend of people’s from all over the globe. To identify anyone to a racial group has to be done by most notable. There is no big mystery. It is like rounding up numbers. When avoiding fractions for whatever reason, 5.77 becomes 6. So?
Nobody is overlooking anything. we are just, “Rounding up”.

eno's avatar


Here is something similiar to think about. Blacks and hispanics were not capable of passing the standardized tests of the FDNY (Fire Department of New York). Naturally, of course, since they could not pass the tests, they felt the tests were racist and a 7 year ongoing lawsuit was in progress. Recently, the city, with their new racially biased mayor Bill de Blasio appeased to the black community with a settlement of 98 million dollars. Testing standards will now be lowered for fairness to minorities which means the city will have less qualified fireman.

The ridiculous part is if you look at this test, the weakest high school student should easily pass the test and the test itself is also derived from hands on training that all firefighters must maintain in order to keep their jobs. It is basically a test to see if you know your job.

Anyway, the question is do you think lowering testing standards to not offend blacks and hispanics is an acceptable course of action?

If your answer is no, then why would you think butchering the english language to protect offended ethnicities should be any different?

The connection between mongrel and niggardly is that both words are not slurs yet some people find them offensive. For you, mongrel is unacceptable, but niggardly is acceptable, yet blacks find niggardly just as offensive (sounds similar to nigger) as the racially mixed find mongrel offensive, so by your own logic, you should no longer accept the word niggardly.

JLeslie's avatar

@eno I don’t know anyone who uses mongrel for human beings. It is derogatory and offensive. Where do you live that it is common to use such words? I have lived in many over 90% white neighborhoods and no one is using that term. Also, I’m curious what your national background is and how long your family has been in America. You do not represent America, you are a single person who constantly sounds racist here. I think I offend some people for stating statisticts that sometimes sound racist, but they are stats and facts are facts, but you take the cake for having no compassion or understanding for minorities and for what I would call gross generalizations.

eno's avatar

Your experiences are not an indication that they’re universally shared. My experiences and places I lived are different than yours. Where you never experienced the common usage of mongrel, I have.

I also have the dictionary standards to confirm they’re not offensive words. Notice the definition for the word nigger

usually offensive, a black person
usually offensive, a member of any dark-skinned race

It makes it clear that it is offensive where as the word mongrel is defined as

an individual resulting from the interbreeding of diverse breeds or strains
a cross between types of persons or things

No label to indicate it is offensive. So like you said, it may sound racist to you, but facts are facts and here you have them. The rest of what you said is vague, baseless accusations, so there is nothing for me to respond to.

I’m white. Going by my family tree, the original settlement in the U.S was in the 18th century.

JLeslie's avatar

@eno Most dictionaries list mongrel as offensive.

Even when used for dogs the indication is that it is not pure bred and not as good.

eno's avatar

No such thing as most. There are only 2 main ones. The one you listed (Oxford) and Webster. The key difference is that the United States goes according to the standards of American dictionaries and the main accepted America dictionary is Webster’s dictionary which does not find mongrel offensive. Oxford Dictionary is the standard for the United Kingdom.

Also, the definition makes no indication of whether it is good or bad. In terms of dogs, it just says a dog with parents of different breeds

You’re the one who is deciding whether it is good or bad.

JLeslie's avatar

@eno How about you just say the person is mixed heritage or just name their ancestry and stay on the safe side. I know you won’t, you seem to be quite stubborn, extremely analytical, and unaware of common usage of many words. Do you have ausperger’s? I don’t mean that offensively, I mean that as a serious question.

Merriam webster probably defines Semitic or Semites as relating to Jews and Arabs, but most of America just thinks of it as Jewish. In America we say Asian people to mean east Asian, but there is a whole continent that actually os Asia.

eno's avatar

Safer side? Perhaps in your neck of the woods I would not be safe for saying mongrel, but in my area, I don’t have to worry about safety.

You must have missed my first answer. Probably because it is easier to reference and because people don’t know simpler words to define it. In my area, in the U.S, we refer to someone of mixed race as a mongrel. That is the accurate term.

Common usage? I told you that common is relative unless it is statistically significant. In my area, mongrel is a common usage.

I don’t have any mental health problems.

JLeslie's avatar

@eno Not safer in terms of being physically harmed. Oh my God.

eno's avatar

Then what do you mean by safer side?

stanleybmanly's avatar

Mixed race people are considered black simply because in the United States as elsewhere in the world, the only racial characteristic guaranteeing full legitimacy was “white”. One was either “pure” and thus entitled to unquestioned rights of citizenship, or “non white” with validity in all matters open to question and challenge. With such grim realities in store for the “unpure” it is quite understandable that one’s hopes in the world might hinge to a considerable extent on appearing in every respect “as white as possible.” So powerful and important is this tradition that its effects stubbornly persist universally to the present day. Anyone doubting the validity of this perception has merely to note the world wide proliferation of skin lightening preparations, now approaching sales volumes formerly restricted to Coca Cola and cigarettes.

Darth_Algar's avatar

I suspect that eno is not a sincere poster and that it is perhaps best not to indulge them.

ucme's avatar

I’m offended to be called white, got quite a nice tan as it happens.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@eno Secondly, the word mongrel is not a slur word, so why would it be unacceptable? It means: an individual resulting from the interbreeding of diverse breeds or strains
a cross between types of persons or things
This IS the US and most everyone has thin skin today. Even clinical or actual terms or definitions can get under people’s skin if it is felt to be used as a negative. I know many Blacks who call each other the ’N’ word can’t stand to be known as “negro”, they feel it is a putdown. Just try saying someone is a midget and not a “little person”.

Do you also find the word niggardly unacceptable? Even though it means a person who is stingy, not generous.
Well, if Black people are using it among themselves, maybe not. If some other nationality uses it, I am sure it would be. Thin skin has no boundaries. I have heard US born Mexicans refer to native born Mexican immigrants as ”those wetbacks”. Because they are Hispanic do they have more licenses to use the term to refer to a segment of their race than someone who is not Hispanic? Word usage and who can use it is never cut and dry in the US.

Testing standards will now be lowered for fairness to minorities which means the city will have less qualified fireman.
Another reason to dump that farce called affirmative action.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Part of the American culture is supporting equal rights, and when lacking, fighting for it. The US has a fair amount of diversity when it comes to gender, nationality, ancestry, religion, ethnic, culture, accent, etc. Unfortunately, the term “race” is often thrown into the equation as well. There is no such thing as race.

Let’s face it. The majority of humans, if not all, gravitate to labeling other people. Physical features, such as the color of one’s skin and the shape of body parts, is the quickest way to make a judgement. The assumption isn’t always right. For whatever reason, this seems to be prevalent in the US culture.

President Obama is a prime example. Here is a human created by two people with different skin tones. The roll of the genetic dice is how he (and all of us) ended up landing with our physical characteristics, for the most part.

Until someone comes up with scientifically valid definition of “race”, then the world would be a better place if everyone would remove it from their vocabulary and thought process.

eno's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Word usage and who can use it is never cut and dry in the US

Oh, I agree, but that is why we have dictionary standards.

I bet some people here think the word retard is offensive as well. The politically correct police will call it “developmentally disabled”. Right, I’m sure everyone is going to use those words in conversation instead of retard.

The PC police will call stupid as “intellectually impaired”

A garbageman is really a “sanitation engineer”

There is no end to this which is why you should not lower your standards and inconvenience yourself for every person that might be offended.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

The problem, @eno, is that you consider only yourself. You show a complete lack of empathy for anyone. The reason the word “niggardly” does not bother me as badly is because it is not as negatively associated with something derogatory – which a lot of people are aware of. However, it’s still a word that I would choose not to use personally.

As for ”... X white person would no longer use that word around blacks”. What you mean to say is that only an asshole would stop saying it around black people, but would continue to say it around people who aren’t black, because only an asshole would show a complete disregard for the extremely negative history of the word, and what people had to endure.

”... why would you think butchering the english language to protect offended ethnicities should be any different?” I admit that it’s a little funny to me that you consider it butchering the English language. English, as with any other language on the planet, has been evolving since it came into existence. It has been “butchered” so many times that it would be completely unrecognizable to anyone who spoke it a very long time ago. So I fail to see the point you’re trying to make? At no point has the language been anything concrete and sacred. So I really don’t see the issue in trying to avoid saying certain words so as not to offend people.

eno's avatar

@DrasticDreamer The problem is that you consider only yourself. You show a complete lack of empathy for anyone.

I think the word you’re looking for is compassion, not empathy. Everyone has the capability to empathize unless they’re psychopaths. The problem is you think compassion is the only feeling that follows when one empathizes with someone else. Not true. I empathize with everyone but my compassion is selective, i.e, family, wife, kids, relatives, friends. Most of the time, I’m in a state of apathy or self-interest. I don’t see that as a problem.

In this case, my standard and convenience (my self-interest) is more important than some racially mixed individual who is offended by my choice of words which is why I said I don’t need nor want his friendship or see any business value. My tune would change if I saw him as a client or needed his friendship or saw him as a threat.

The reason the word “niggardly” does not bother me as badly is because it is not as negatively associated with something derogatory

Says you, whitey. Blacks feel it does.

Butchering and evolving are opposing terms. Removing words from the dictionary that have a legitimate meaning is butchering. Adding new words in is evolving.

Even if you say the language is dynamic, which it is, at our current point in time, the word mongrel and niggardly are not considered to be offensive words, so either way, you don’t have an argument for why we should stop using it.

eno's avatar

Think of this way. When you bought your TV, purchased your computer, Ipad, Iphone, what have you, did you consider all the starving people in the world? 25,000 die every day from starvation, yet you chose to spend your money for internet service and computer/gadgets.

My point is it is wrong to look at it as them (the offended, the starving) v.s yourself, rather look at it as you decided your self-interests were more important than theirs, so you choose your self-interests over their needs, emotions.

Are you going to lower standard now because there are 25,000 dying from starvation everyday? Are you going to reduce your standard-of-living to just basic necessities? Give up the tv, the internet, the phone, the computer, the makeup, etc?

I don’t think you would because you don’t have anything personally against the starving, you just value your convenience, your standard-of-living / quality-of-life more than those who are starving.

Same idea with word usage and those who are offended by some of it.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another and I don’t think you demonstrate that at all, thus far.

Says you, whitey. Blacks feel it does.” So let me get this straight: When I say that people are offended by being described as “mongrel”, you say I don’t know everyone and so can’t speak to how it makes people feel, but now, suddenly, you’re able to speak for all black people? While I don’t disagree with you (about some black people finding it offensive), which is precisely why I pointed out that I would not personally use the word, you’re being a bit of a hypocrite.

Also, I’m not so sure I’d count as a white person – in your neck of the woods, at least. I’m not sure my pedigree is pure enough for you.

And who is removing words from the dictionary? The meanings are simply changing. However, when the people who write the dictionary catch up and the word “mongrel” becomes a derogatory word used to describe a person, I suppose then and only then will you find it acceptably offensive.

All in all, you have no idea what I choose to spend my money on, so stop with the assumptions. Me buying personal items for myself does not equate to me not bothering to try to understand and help people who are less fortunate than myself. I don’t know why you seem to think that if someone chooses to help themselves it means they don’t ever try to choose to help others?

eno's avatar

You only think I’m not displaying empathy because you’re basing its display on a false criteria. Using your own logic, I can claim you’re not showing any empathy towards me. Your’e inconsiderate of how I said I feel about the matter.

I don’t believe I wrote all blacks, if I did, I meant to say some blacks.

Yes, everyone has their war stories but they’re limited, anecdotal evidence, so until I see a the standard change or a statistically significant disdain for the usage of the word mongrel I will not stop using it. Even then, I can use the word among those who do accept it since it poses no harm to anyone, thus it isn’t a problem.

How about this, do you have a problem with racists who use racial slurs among their own fellow racists? If it poses no harm, why would you have a problem with it?

I never said it is either or. I said the same way you chose to satisfy your personal desires instead of saving someone from death by starvation, I choose my standard and convenience (in this case the usage of mongrel) instead of being considerate of some offended stranger with a multiracial background. Like I said, mongrel is an accepted term in my area. The only people negative feedback I received so far was from you and few other members here.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@eno You’re right, I’m not showing empathy toward you, because I feel that you’re inconsiderate and don’t care at all about how words might make people feel. People who have, traditionally in this country, been treated like they’re less than human. Which is exactly why I will not use “mongrel” to describe a human being, because I’m most familiar with people using the word to describe dogs. Dogs that are, traditionally, less valued – as someone else already pointed out to you – because they aren’t “pure”. And as much as I love dogs, I’m not at all comfortable likening human beings to dogs, in any way.

Yes, I have a personal problem with racists using certain words. I would not take away their right to use such words, but they’re all assholes, regardless. Especially when they use racial slurs around children, because it then becomes a matter of hate breeding hate. So simply put, I do not agree that it “poses no harm”, because it absolutely does.

I have a feeling – yes, only a feeling – that the reason “mongrel” is an accepted term in your area is because you probably live in a pretty racist area, wherever you are.

eno's avatar

Well, there you go. You put greater importance towards the feelings of others than yourself and myself, where as I put greater importance to myself than others and yourself. If you look at this from a third perspective, the split between us can be seen on a grander scale (larger groups).

So you find racism to be a problem because the offsprings of racist parents are being taught to hate? That doesn’t make sense because again, what is the harm of having racist kids use racial slurs among their racist friends? There are so many racist sites designed for this very purpose to gather together on internet chat forums to vent their frustrations of ethnicities other than their own. Again what is the harm? It is just words among fellow friends, asshole or no asshole.

I think you’re confusing racism with ethnocentrism. My area is very ethnocentric. Preferring/putting greater value to your own ethnic group (ethnocentrism) is not the same as hating other ethnic groups (racism). Although I don’t see the relation between ethnocentrism and the usage of mongrel either.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

No, see, that’s where you’re wrong. Most of the time, racial slurs and beliefs do not stay within a single group, and that is why it’s harmful. They perpetuate hate, intolerance, and even violence – because racists think of other humans as less than human. It becomes even more harmful when you have one group that still statistically holds most of the power perpetuating racism, because they can then easily prevent equality.

As someone who is majoring in cultural anthropology, I really don’t need you to describe the difference between racism and enthocentrism. No matter how you try to slice it, they both suck, and they’re both intolerant and small-minded. And before you accuse me of being intolerant of intolerance: again, yes, I am. I hate hate and I’m proud of it.

That said, we will clearly never agree and we’re running round and round in circles. This is where I take my leave of this particular discussion with you.

eno's avatar

Again, hate and intolerance in a conversation is not harmful. It still just a conversation. Why do our constitution allows hate speech? For this very reason. Physical action, however, is harmful and against the law, but is statistically seldom. Aside from anecdotal evidence, there is no evidence for wide spread inequality because of racism. Institutional racism ended long time ago. I believe the only reason you have a problem with it is from some sort of personal insecurity.

Ethnocentrism sucks? It is biologically and evolutionary driven. You’re not going to change human nature. That is like saying it sucks that I value/prefer vanilla ice cream over chocolate. According to you, I should learn to love both and not discriminate which is ridiculous
I think the culture of the various countries in Africa are shit, hence I prefer my own. It has nothing to do with hate.

sensin's avatar

The impurity of interbreed dogs applies to humans too. There are a lot of detrimental health consequences for interbreed humans.

The U.S population is 318 million. Only 9 million of those are multiracial and the prevalence of special health care needs is highest among multiracial children (18.0 percent). s1

The same health risk are found in adulthood s2

One of the popular mental disorders they have is a self-identity crisis.

Patients of mixed ethnicity cannot find bone marrow matches s3

Mixed ethnicities suffer from a much higher rate of dysfunctional families, divorces, absentee of fathers.

CDC study found higher rates of autism and ADHD among mixed races.
1) The highest rate of ADHD, at 15.2%, is in the mixed race category.
2) The highest rate of ‘Learning Disability, at 14.6%, is in the mixed race category.
3) The highest rate of ‘Behavioral Difficulty’, at 12.8%, is in the mixed race category. s4

There is a slew of this kind of information. Mainly of physical and mental health problems. Very disproportionate considering how small the multiracial population is.

rojo's avatar

We are all mongrels @eno

JLeslie's avatar

@eno If the dictionary does not list mongrel as offensive, it is because the dictionary is lagging behind the culture. That is not uncommon. Let’s visit back in 5 years and see if it has changed.

You do have a lack of empathy and you are a snob.

You still have not answered my question. What is your national background? Are you 100% something? Your people came over on the Mayflower? Germany? Viking stock? Tell us about your purity? Are you blond, blue eyed, tall? What mix are you? The definition of mongrel in your precious dictionaries is a person of mixed descent or mixed ancestry, it’s not just mixed race.

eno's avatar

The dictionary is lagging behind on the word mongrel in 2014? Get real.

The reason webster still doesn’t label mongrel as offensive is because Americans most likely don’t find it offensive. It has nothing to do with lagging behind .You just think that your personal experiences are somehow shared by the whole country. Sounds pretty conceited if you ask me.

You don’t know what empathy means and you’re judging it on a false criteria. Nothing to talk about here.

Yes, I am a snob. Is that suppose to be another word you find “offensive”?

Do you hang out with the bums on the street?
Do you like the culture of Somalia?

If you don’t like their culture, then you’re a snob. If you do like their culture, then you’re a liar. Your choice.

Since genuine inquiry is no longer your suit, I’m not going to indulge you any further. You’re taking this too personal. Emotions run wild.

eno's avatar


Careful sensin. Your facts are accurate, but they sound “racist”. The politically correct police is around the corner to tell you that we’re all “equal”.

rojo's avatar

You are not racist if you hate everybody equally.

sensin's avatar


Racist? After reading all those facts, you have to be a complete sadomasochist or psychopath or both to want to interbreed. But, multiracials are only a small minority of overall population.. Most people are still rational.

eno's avatar


That is called misanthropy.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Do not offer sustenance to those who dwell under bridges.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

I do not think you would find a 100% pure bred nation or people unless you go to those obscure native tribes up in the Andes, or deep in the Amazon jungle and even then, you might find something else in there. Most people who are of very blended nationalities call themselves a Heinz 57, but stripping it all away if Merriam-Webster’s take on it”:

1: an individual resulting from the interbreeding of diverse breeds or strains; especially : one of unknown ancestry
2: a cross between types of persons or things

(which as @eno pointed out, doesn’t always attach it to an “offensive” tag) One can use hybrid, mixed, half breed, etc. Because humans are stuck on the connotations applied to animals by use of the world, they believe uses of the world referring to humans are referring to said human as an animal. Humans are not likely to be inbred or not knowing where their origin was. A person who is Asian may not know where in Asia their lineage originated, this province in China, that area in Japan, etc. but they know it was somewhere in Asia. I know my lineage originated somewhere on the continent of Africa some time ago, I don’t know which tribe, nation, etc. the only strong clue I would have is history and in what areas most of the slave trade was harvested from.

JLeslie's avatar

@eno It just cracks me up that you will not answer the question regarding your national background and ancestry.

eno's avatar


DNA testing makes it more accurate now. There are still some limitations. I had one done 5 years ago.


What are you talking about? I answered you already. You never asked me for my ancestry before, you asked for my national background which is American. American roots go back to 18th century. I have a germanic ancestry (dna tested).

JLeslie's avatar

@eno Of all things German. I was hoping that wasn’t the case. Our German jellies on here would be appauled.

Most people when they ask an American their national background are asking where their family is from before they came to America, but you wouldn’t understand that I guess. Plus, you are wrong, I asked you this, “You still have not answered my question. What is your national background? Are you 100% something? Your people came over on the Mayflower? Germany? Viking stock? Tell us about your purity? Are you blond, blue eyed, tall? What mix are you? The definition of mongrel in your precious dictionaries is a person of mixed descent or mixed ancestry, it’s not just mixed race.” I mentioned Germany, or German, and almost erased it, because I felt someone might give me a hard time.

eno's avatar

Appalled over what? Mongrel? And so what if they’re appalled?

Family came from Germany to America and my ancestry is 100% germanic (not to be confused with german).

I’m not giving you a description of what I look like for safety reasons. Kind of creepy that you’re so fixated to find out. This goes beyond curiosity.

JLeslie's avatar

@eno You can’t be that ignorant to not understand why feeling superior and being German, blond haired, and blue eyed, would be a little too cliché. I don’t really care what you look like, but we are talking about race, which is about what people look like. I don’t see how I am going to find you with skin, hair and eye color, but ok, be paranoid. Even ignoring what you might look like, it still fits into the stereotype of Germans thinking they are better than everyone else. Not that I am saying most of them do present day, I am saying the stereotype.

If you have no idea what I am talking about you might want to read up on the Holocaust.

eno's avatar

Oh, I forgot you’re jewish. No wonder you’re so sensitive about this topic.

It is not that I don’t understand, I do. The stereotypes might very well be accurate. However, it is you who keeps on conflating ethnocentrism with racism. As I said before, I’m ethnocentric. You might have a problem with that but I don’t. That is just good ole human nature.

eno's avatar

Pay close attention to the definitions because it doesn’t seem like you understand the distinction.

ethnocentric characterized by or based on the attitude that one’s own group is superior

racism a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race

JLeslie's avatar

I know the difference. As I said, I was raised by a sociologist. That stuff has been drilled into me since the beginnings.

Who were you before? You must have renamed yourself. You know an awful lot about me, not just that I am Jewish, but a few other things you pointed out in the past few weeks for a jelly with just 949 lurve.

eno's avatar

Ok, good, then you have to figure out for yourself why you have a problem with ethnocentrism. At least it seems that you do

First time here. I’m a member since 2013. In the past year, I’ve seen enough of your answers to know some details. You tend to share more personal information in your answers.

JLeslie's avatar

Why I have a problem with ethnocentrism? I don’t have a problem with all facets of ethnocentrism, but I do think when it is extreme there is a lack of awareness and understanding for other cultures. Same with people who are xenophobic. I wouldn’t trust you to meet a person as an individual. At least in your writing you seem very sure about your expectations of how someone is going to think and act based on things like race and socio-economics. Even though I agree there are generalizations to be made, I would never agree you can assume something about a person just by knowing their race, ethnicity, education level, or income. If that is not the message you want to send then I would say you are not communicating well.

If you were half German half English, would you mind being called a mongrel? If you can’t put yourself in the place of the person who is not 100% pure bred (If there really is such a thing, I would say it is questionable) then you do lack empathy. Empathy is being able to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. You’ll probably say you wouldn’t mind being called mongrel, but that is not really what I am most curious about, I am more curious about if you can even fathom being in a situation where you are not able to consider yourself superior. You obviously do consider yourself superior.

eno's avatar

That doesn’t make sense because the mechanics of ethnocentrism entails awareness and understanding of other cultures. How else would you have come to the conclusion to prefer and value your own as superior? Discrimination. After you’re aware and understand the cultures, you discriminate to see which one you’re going to adapt to. Every human discriminates. To not discriminate is to be unconscious.

If I don’t mind using the word mongrel, then why would I mind being called one if I was a half-breed? I don’t see the word as offensive. Doesn’t matter what side of the fence i’m on.

Again, you’re misconstruing the definition of empathy. I can and do understand a half-breed’s reasoning and feel his or her’s anger/sadness/pain over the word, however, just because I understand and feel what they do, does not mean I have to accept it. I actually think it is an irrational reason and thus an irrational display of emotions towards the word. So you see, I do show a great deal of empathy, I just reject what I experienced in their shoes.

Well, yes. Ever see a UFC fighter? I’m sure some of those guys can tear me to pieces. I surely feel inferior to them in that regard, but where I lack, I make up through adaptation. A UFC guy is good with his fists, so I bought guns instead and became a good marksman to compensate for my lack of fighting skills. I turned an inferior part of myself into a strength. Also, strength in numbers. I have a lot of siblings and 6 kids of my own. A platoon, depending on the quality of course, is more advantageous than a couple of expert fighters.

eno's avatar


you wrote you seem very sure about your expectations of how someone is going to think and act based on things like race and socio-economics

Yes, because it is based on statistical analysis categorized by ethnicity and my confidence is thus based on the high probability. So take for example a statistical analysis of sexually transmitted diseases categorized by ethnicity. What knowledge have you gathered from this STD stats by ethniticity

Chlamydia – The rate of chlamydia among black women was over six times the rate among white women. The chlamydia rate among black men was over eight times the rate among white men.

Gonorrhea – 63% of reported gonorrhea cases occurred among blacks. The rate of gonorrhea among blacks was 14.9 times the rate among whites

Syphilis – 39.7% of all cases reported to CDC were among blacks. The overall rate for blacks was 6.1 times the rate for whites. The rate of P&S syphilis among black men was 5.7 times the rate among white men; the rate among black women was 16 times the rate among white women

HIV – African Americans accounted for an estimated 44% of all new HIV infections. The rate of new HIV infection in African Americans is 8 times that of whites based on population size.HIV by ethniticity

The knowledge that I extracted from this is not to get sexually involved with black people because the probability of me catching a sexually transmitted disease would be extremely high. Is this racist? No. I’m sure there are some black individuals who don’t have any STDs at all but that doesn’t change my elevated risk now, does it? I’m not taking any chances, so I discriminate by preferencing/valuing my own ethnic group because STDs are at a minimum (ethnocentric).

How do you personally apply the knowledge you got from these stats?

JLeslie's avatar

@eno I guess you really have not been around here very long. I tried to find a Q I wrote a long time ago about why people think it is racist if something is statistically true about a group, but it didn’t pop up. Here is another Q though where you can see some of my thoughts and you will see you are arguing with the wrong person. You think you are teaching me something, but if you pause for a moment you might learn something yourself.

JLeslie's avatar

Crap, I still can’t find that Q, but here is another about developing sterotypes about groups as we get older.

eno's avatar

Well, you don’t have the same tune here as you did in those other older questions. We wouldn’t be arguing this long about it if you did.

JLeslie's avatar

I think you aren’t listening to me. My thoughts have not changed. You are spending too much in a defensive mode and time assuming and thinking everyone else is ignorant on this Q and other Q’s.

sensin's avatar

100% pure bred (If there really is such a thing, I would say it is questionable)

If pure-breeding was questionable, then there would not be a disproportionate amount behavioral, learning, substance abuse, violence, and physical and mental health problems for multi-racials.

Why can’t multiracials use bone marrow from white donors?

Here is another Study to add to the collection.

JLeslie's avatar

@sensin I have no idea what your link has to do with the 100% statement. Your link is talking about white, black and Asians as broad categories. White can mean anything from white like me, to white like my husband, and we look pretty different, with very different coloring, and our ancestors are from different parts of the world. Neither of us are 100%, but we certainly are white according to current definitions.

sensin's avatar

Broad categories do not change the results. Just because they don’t delve into the fine details of the various white variations does not mean that there is no such thing as 100% purebred. The evidence is in the the studies which still finds a disportionate amount of problems when whites (no matter the variation) mix bloodlines with blacks and any other race-mixing. Bone marrow matches would not be a problem if we were all interbred.

The logical sequence that follows these studies is that if detailed variations would be accounted for, it would be really bad to even mix outside your own specific ancestry. That is to say it would be bad for a person of german ancestry to mix with another white ancestral variation.

eno's avatar

Huh? The study makes a clear distinction of 100% purebred vs half-bred. multiracial adolescents were examined and compared with 3 monoracial groups,

Monoracial (100% purebred)
Multiracial (half-bred).

JLeslie's avatar

Well, I didn’t click on al the references within the article, and I do see it is NIH, so I am going to hope these stats are derived from large samples and account for socio-economic difference, but it doesn’t really state that they do look at socio-economic levels, unless I missed it which is possible. I was not questioning the statistics, I was questioning how 100% pure bred relates to this article after the conversation we have had here. I am very happy I had misunderstood what @eno was saying, and he and @sensin believes my ½ israeli (well, before Israel the family was probably in other parts of the middle east) ¼ Spanish, ¼ French, Mediterranean looking husband who is second generation Mexican and an immigrant to America is considered 100% pure bred, no different than the 100% Germanic background that @eno has.

sensin's avatar

They do account for socioeconomics differences. It doesn’t matter. Same results.
However, these differences remained after socioeconomic status was controlled.

It relates because you question the idea of something being 100% purebred. These studies prove that there is a distinction between 100% purebred and interbreed.

I think you’re misinterpreting what @eno and I are saying. According to your description, your husband is a multi-racial (half-bred). Those are all different ancestries in his blood.

When the study labels Europe as monoracial, it is talking about the varieties of ancestries within Europe. A monoracial (purebred) ancestry is if a 100% germanic man cohabitated with a 100% germanic female. If a 100% celtic ancestry were to cohabitate with a 100% germanic ancestry, they’re much more likely to experience all these problems that the studies found in multiracials couples/children. It doesn’t matter that both celtic and germanic ancestries come from Europe and that both are white. The ancestries are different.

JLeslie's avatar

@sensin I missed that it said European, I was just thinking white. Let me see if I understand what you said. You are saying if a German-American and Irish American have children they are more likely to have significant problems on the measures they are using in the article than similar to a child born from one black parent and one European white parent? I don’t think the article says that. Isn’t it grouping all European whites together?

How do you get my husband is multiracial? Whose definition of race are you using? On the US census he is white. By almost any official definitions he is white. I myself have argued in fluther that he is from a different part of the world and when you look at him and look at me and know the genetic diseases we each are more likely to be susceptible to it could be argued we are from different genetic pools, but officially he is white. I don’t know why you say half-bred (really you both are just too much with how you throw around the terms, it so awful. I am one of the jellies on fluther who is fairly objective and analytical about race, social norms, cultural differences, and statistical generalizations, but you an @eno take the cake in lack of understanding for how you come across) he is not half and half, and again he is not multiracial by any modern definition I know of. He is multicultural and bilingual and is ½ Israel and a ¼ Spanish and ¼ French, and some people and our census call him Hispanic (which is not a race).

If biracial children have more trouble then I think that is a commentary on how horrible society still is today and that is really what should be examined and scrutinized, not the individuals themselves.

JLeslie's avatar

I should say none of those are races, not Israeli, Spanish, French, or Hispanic, or Sephardic, or having been raised Catholic and now Jewish, which he is also all of those things. The more mix the better I say.

sensin's avatar

Yes, it doesn’t matter what type of admixture it is. German and Irish, German and African. Any ancestry that mixes increases the problems and is no longer pure. It is a half-bred (monoracial).

What do you mean how? You just told me his ancestral roots. I’m using webster’s and the scientific term. Your husband by definition is not white, but a multiethnic Race is not a correct term in science. The correct term is ethnicities. A multiethnic is just an alternate term for mongrel.

JLeslie's avatar

He is multiple ethnicites. I don’t think I used that term yet on this Q, but he is. He is white, look up caucasian.

Where does it say in your article people who are ½ Irish ½ German have the same statistical outcomes as ½ black ½ white?

Also, be warned I am flagging you. I think Sensin and eno are the same person, because I can’t imagine two people thinking the same way as you two do. Seems highly unlikely.

Edit: Here, I did it for you. Caucasian race.

sensin's avatar

It doesn’t. Those are your examples. I used your examples to explain to you what the article is talking about. The article uses different terminologies. Are you even aware of what you’re saying at this point?

Just because we share opinions from time to time, doesn’t mean we’re the same person. Someone already accused us of being the same in another question. It didn’t work then, I don’t expect it to work now.

JLeslie's avatar

You are confusing race with cultures, subcultures and ethnicties. Where is your link to a definition of race that shows my husband is not white/Caucasian? He is the same race as a German American if we must classify people by race.

@eno The most genetically pure group are the people of Iceland from a Viking background. I would think the chance of an American having been here for over 5 generations being 100% German is unlikely. Not impossible, but unlikely. Except for the fact that you sound so racist, then it makes more sense.

@sensin How about you, what is your ethnic and racial background?

JLeslie's avatar

Oh, look at this mess. It doesn’t even seem like Germans in Germany are likely to be 100% pure. Maybe you should get one of those DNA tests.

sensin's avatar

I told you there is no concept of race. All humans are homosepiens, but we’re divided by ethnic groups. Read your own wiki links. Although its validity and utility [of Caucasian race] is disputed by many anthropologists. Someone like your husband who is composed of multiple ethnic groups is by definition a multiethnic. Your husband has mexican blood in him. He wouldn’t fit the caucasian race, anyway.

I’m from Greece. Greek ancestry.

eno's avatar

Short memory span @JLeslie?

DNA testing makes it more accurate now. There are still some limitations. I had one done 5 years ago.

My american roots go back to 18th century. I have a germanic ancestry (dna tested).

my ancestry is 100% germanic (not to be confused with german)

JLeslie's avatar

More like it doesn’t matter to me enough to pay attention well I guess.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther