Social Question

josie's avatar

Where is it established that some groups may be identified by their skin color and others may not?

Asked by josie (30827points) October 8th, 2019

In the West, it is pretty much accepted that people of sub Saharan ancestry who have dark skin are called “Black”
Just like people of European ancestry are called “White”

I can’t prove it, but I suspect that anybody in the Western world who called indigenous Americans “Reds”, or called people native to the Far East “Yellows” would probably get fired, be forced to resign, or have to withdraw from the political campaign.

Who makes those rules?

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11 Answers

kritiper's avatar

You’d have to check in the specific rules for craps. It’s all just a roll of the dice…

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I can’t answer this but am waiting with interest.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

The Europeans.

YARNLADY's avatar

Apparently it is strictly a matter of convention and acceptance. Some people self identify by color, such the 100 Black Men, a service club to educate and empower black children.

Zaku's avatar

Who makes those rules about firing people? People who (hopefully) pay attention to how upset people tend to get when it’s done. Such as HR departments.

Some people might even start to be annoyed that some people were speaking as if they didn’t know about some of the reasons why specific groups might become upset, such as the history of a certain county that proclaims “equality”, “liberty” and “justice” proudly as core values, yet which has a recent history of racial- and skin-color- organized slavery, genocide, massacre, discrimination, prejudice, and which still has major social issues around skin color stigmas.

Demosthenes's avatar

It is a matter of convention, as @YARNLADY says. It’s just how the language and specific terms have evolved. There’s no formula to it and no one establishment setting rules. Black people don’t seem to mind “black” and white people don’t seem to mind “white”, but I don’t know any Asians who are okay with “yellow”. Why? I’m not entirely sure. The term never took off. It became almost strictly a pejorative when “black” and “white” were used inoffensively and descriptively.

(“Black” has almost made a comeback as “African American”, created later, has started to fall out of fashion in some circles).

jca2's avatar

Nobody’s making “rules” about it.

It’s trends.

ucme's avatar

You are considered highly racist & ignorant if you refer to someone from Pakistan as a “Paki” or from China as a “Chink”
Yet it’s perfectly acceptable to refer to me, being British, as a “Brit”

Each of those are examples of shortening the name of your nationality & yet 2 are seen as incendiary & socially unacceptable.

Because this is Fluther & a lot of you are, well…you know, I feel it necessary to add that I never use those terms myself, just making a simple point.

jca2's avatar

My father’s from Mexico even though I’m whiter than white. I’ll refer to myself as a Mexican and people get confused. Sometimes I’ll call myself a filthy, stinkin’ Mexican LOL.

JLeslie's avatar

This is how I see it, but I have never read anything about it.

I think it all just evolves over time, and groups decide what is acceptable. Initially, if the group has a lot of bigotry and racism against them, maybe they will reject the current label, but not necessarily.

I don’t know if it was black people or white people who pushed for the term African American, but I guess that was to switch the grouping from color of skin to national origin, but that doesn’t really work well necessarily, because there are white people from Africa here in America, and there are black people here from other parts of the world than Africa. Maybe if you go back far enough even they are from Africa originally, but they usually identify with their most recent country.

I know more than one black person who prefers black rather then African American. I ask black friends what they prefer if it comes up in a sentence that I need to use one or the other. Whatever they prefer is fine with me.

Years ago my boyfriend, whose family was from Ecuador, would answer forms that he was white. This was when the choices were often, black, white, Hispanic, Asian. I knew a black Puerto Rican woman who always answered Hispanic, and I know another PR woman who identifies more with being black. Many black people from the Islands don’t identify with black Americans as the same group. The American government I think helped change things so race is separate from national origin on forms and especially our census, so now people can choose Mexican and white, or Hispanic and Asian, etc.

America seems to have decided to call East Asians, Asians, but not other Asians. I don’t understand this at all, and I don’t know when it happened. I perceive it as happening when it became not ok to use the term Oriental. My SIL came up with being almost 50% West Asian, which is exactly what I would guess according to what we know about the family, and she was telling me her DNA results, I immediately said, “just like my sister you basically got results in line with exactly what we would guess,” but kind of over top of my response she started explaining what West Asian is, and I realized she probably didn’t know that the countries she already knows her father’s family is from are in West Asia. I blame this common use of the word Asian to mean East Asian as part of the problem, although obviously her lack of Geographical knowledge is the bigger problem. She might be an extreme example, because years ago a hurricane was headed right for Hispanola, and I asked if she had spoken to her husbands with the hurricane headed straight for him, and she told me they don’t live on Hispanola. She lived in the Dominican Republic at the time.

@jca2 Many times people ask my husband or me about how it is that he can be Jewish and Mexican.

One time in college someone asked me how I Could be Jewish and blue eyes. That’s the only time I was ever asked that, but I guess the person thought if Hitler liked blue eyes Jewish people must not have them? Just I guess, I don’t know what he was really thinking. I wish I had asked. Maybe he was thinking Middle Easterners don’t have blue eyes?

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