Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

What word should we use besides race and racist?

Asked by JLeslie (57498points) May 19th, 2016 from iPhone

A comment a fellow jelly made caused me to think of this Q. I often use the word racist loosely when describing a group, the word race not as much. I know Jews aren’t a race, nor are Hispanics, or people from the Middle East, and we could go on and on. The fact is we do sometimes group people for various reasons including by race, religion, ethnicity, region, etc.

What word can we use that covers all of it? I think you need to write a long phrase to accurately cover it. You can say groups or minority groups to mean a bunch of different groups, but what about the word racist and antisemitic, how are you going to put that together in one word?

I’m all for evolving the word racist to mean: assuming negative attributes about a group and being hateful towards any group of people. In the day of texting it’s a reasonable shorthand I think.

Some will probably argue we shouldn’t even think race anymore, I understand that, but as long as there is injustice and hate towards a “race” it’s impossible to avoid the language I think.

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27 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

That is such a touchy subject to the point it’s ridiculous sometimes. I was talking about a kid in a middle school once. I described him as the “Asian-looking kid.” I thought his teacher was going to go 6 kinds of crazy on me. It was stupid. It was a description, not an insult. My kids are of Asian descent.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I don’t even mean that exactly. See this Q and how Pied_Pfeffer talks about the word race and points out Jews aren’t a race. What does that mean? That on a Q about impression of races, we don’t count the Jews, and other religions? We don’t count Hispanics?

Jak's avatar


Dutchess_III's avatar

I saw that. Several times, actually.

From Wikipedia, “Race, as a social construct, is a group of people who share similar and distinct physical characteristics.” Obviously Jews don’t fit that catagory, nor do any other religions.
But we treat classifying people under those standards as some sort of discrimination.

I happen to lean toward the Three Main Races idea of Caucasoids, Negroids, and Mongoloids. Ducks.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I don’t worry about semantics. People know what I’m talking about when I talk—by the mere context, if nothing else—and if they want to digress into arguments about word choices, then I just walk away from them. The general term for all of which you describe is bigotry. A bigot is bigoted and practices bigotry.

JLeslie's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I forget about the word bigot and bigotry. In fact now that you wrote them, I think I once asked a Q similar to this before.

How do you use it for oppression though? I guess one would just ask “what groups have been oppressed?”

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@JLeslie Oppressor would be the most accurate term in that case.

Cruiser's avatar

How about idiot or imbecile

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks for asking this question, as well as sharing the link.

@Dutchess_III I understand your feelings about it being a touchy subject to the point of it becoming ridiculous. It sounds as if I come across this way to not only you, but others. This is not the intent.

What bothers me the most is when someone uses the term “race” to describe some made up form of sub-species category. Why use the “The Three Main Races” when, 1.) it doesn’t apply to everyone and, 2.) it is just simply a genetic difference that has become more common in a particular region?

@Espiritus_Corvus I wish I could be more like you and not worry about semantics. When it comes to labelling others, it triggers an internal reaction. Most may be innocuous, like in one of Mom’s weekly family letters where she wrote, I was at the grocery store, and a nice black lady helped me find…” What does the woman’s skin colour have to do with the story? Nothing, as it turns out, except the fact that in her world, it probably did.

Relate to article when it comes to the term race.

janbb's avatar

“Bigot” would seem to cover it nicely.

kritiper's avatar

Either works. All the derogatory ones don’t.

Dutchess_III's avatar

But which ones are derogatory? It seems like even mentioning race, even as a form of casual and simple description, it derogatory for some reason .

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It’s not that “race” is a derogatory word. It’s how loosely it is used. There are better words that can be used to describe a general group.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Race: People with different appearances, motivations, tastes and behaviors.

Racist: Sweeping generalization of those that agree with the above, by individuals that aren’t able to handle the truth, or consider themselves above it.

JLeslie's avatar

@SecondHandStoke I’ve never seen or heard that definition for race. I guess that kind of , but not exactly, covers what I was saying.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ Science has tried more than once but has been unable to arrive at a satisfactory definition of race.

While I evaluate individuals on an individual level the facts prevent me from ignoring attributes based on “race” as a whole.

This is just one of the multitude of freedoms granted to those that choose to not be bound by the concept of political correctness.


Some are more likely to make it the core of their identity. Other races are less likely to do the same.

I’d like to think that I fall into the latter category. Only those that objectively observe me can say for sure.

kritiper's avatar

It might be possible that anyone who despises the words “race” and “racist” are ones themselves. Some people are confrontational and will take offense on anything to cause a ruckus.
One word? Discriminative.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

Perhaps a person can dislike miss application, overuse or manipulative use of words.

Maybe this should be it’s own Fluther question, but how long ago was the last day anyone turned to Internet forums or the media and didn’t read, type or hear the word “racist” at least once?

Technically speaking, a true racist is one that is open and proud of being such.

Too often otherwise “racist” is a bully threat tactic word used by those that feel one should see the world the way they do.

I cannot speak for others but I personally would not be offended if I was called a racist as the opinion of others cannot hurt me.

It is however, thoroughly irritating to hear the word so frequently tossed about before one has taken the time to truly understand the experiences, mindset and motivations of another.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SecondHandStoke you said, “Science has tried more than once but has been unable to arrive at a satisfactory definition of race.”
From the US National Library of Medicine / National Institutes of Health: Somebody, I presume scientists, came to the conclusion that there are three main races, Caucasoids, Negroids, and Mongoloids. This article discusses the huge genetic variations within the three races.

It can be disputed, and I’m sure it is, vehemently, but for many scientists it’s a satisfactory definition.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@Dutchess_III That paper was published in 1973–4 by two researchers in Texas. Here is a more current article.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Got sidetracked. That’s when I first “learned” of it too, in the late 70’s in anthropology class at K-State. It seemed to make sense to me. I’ll start doing more up to date research. Thanks.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

You are very welcome. The article is a bit long, and I hope that you (and others) won’t be deterred by that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ll find the time.

Strauss's avatar

My teen once was asked to identify her race. By the conventional standards of m n or c she’s truly multi-racial, having “Native American” (mongoloid) “African-American” (negroid) and “European-American” (caucasian).

Her answer was, “Human”.

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