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AIBU To wonder why and on what basis we attribute colour

(112 Posts)
Joelsnan Mon 21-May-18 12:49:40

I was just thinking why people derived from Africa are called Black, Europeans White, yet we don't call Chinese Yellows, Asians Beiges, South Americans Reds or Aborigines Black?
Does anyone know?

grannyactivist Mon 21-May-18 13:03:46

Interesting question Joelsnan, but as a child growing up in Manchester Chinese people were referred to as yellow and we watched cowboy films featuring 'red' Indians. This Wiki article about colour terminology may be helpful;

BlueBelle Mon 21-May-18 14:31:00

Grannyactivist is correct there have always been various colours used as description of people's ethnicity
Asians and mixed race are often called brown and in WI (Trinidad) light skinned blacks are called High Black and mixed race High red, and yes Chinese were referred to as Yellow although I ve not heard that term for a good while
Aborigines were called Blackfellow which is now considered politically incorrect although still used amongst themselves
And yes Red indians in the cowboy and Indians films so I think all races are covered

Joelsnan Mon 21-May-18 15:47:11

I know it sounds daft but this morning I was thinking when I was a child I lived in a mining village in the 1950s early 60 there was one black family yet we never referred to their colour they were just part of the community. When I married I moved to a mill town where again colour was not really mentioned their place of origin was used to identify them I.e. West Indians, Indians or Pakistanis.
Why do we need to identify a person by their skin colour ie. Black British and if we need to then are we discriminating against Yellow, Beige and Red British by not identifying their colour? smile

humptydumpty Mon 21-May-18 15:50:38

I believe the term 'black' was adopted by African-Americans themselves in the 60s (?) around the time of the Black Power protests at the Olympics, previously having been 'coloured'.

Besstwishes Mon 21-May-18 15:57:50

My niece is Asian and she refers to herself as black.

Joelsnan Mon 21-May-18 16:15:50

I think my thoughts must have drifted this way by the constant talk of Meghan Markle being a woman of colour, which I find odd as her father is 'white' and I think her mother is also half caste so effectively (and if true) Meghan is three quarters white so why call her black or a woman of colour?

humptydumpty Mon 21-May-18 16:28:31

Surely she is 'a woman of colour' if she is (at least) 1/4 black? I say 'at least', only because I don't know her mother's racial constituency...

humptydumpty Mon 21-May-18 16:29:55

All credit from me to Meghan Markle for acknowledging this - it would have been easy to 'pretend' to be white in terms of marrying into the royal family and she could easily have done that, given how light her skin is.

Grandma70s Mon 21-May-18 17:09:04

Not if anyone saw photos of her before she straightened her hair.

Joelsnan Mon 21-May-18 17:34:05

humptydumpty but if we didn't have to make reference to the skin colour of African derived individuals why should it matter. We wouldn't call an individual who was three quarters white and one quarter Chinese...Yellow would we? I don't think they would expect to be called this either.

GillT57 Mon 21-May-18 17:36:02

Interesting point. I always wondered why people kept banging on about Obama being 'black', when he was of mixed race, having a white Mother. Keeping away from the race card, why is the black part of his heritage more important than his white part? Or is that just the US right wing press who are so bothered about it? And yes, I remember the old John Wayne cowboy films with 'red indians'.

Gerispringer Mon 21-May-18 18:27:57

It’s because white slave owners who frequently raped or had relationships with black slaves, the resultant children were considered slaves if they had one drop of negro blood. Those with lighter skin would be considered higher in the pecking order and may be employed as house slaves rather than in the fields. Anyone with any kind of black ancestry was discriminated against under segregation laws after slavery. It’s not that black heritage more significant than the white, it’s any black heritage was seen by white supremacists as meaning that person is not of pure blood, so considered lower in social status.

Mapleleaf Mon 21-May-18 18:31:12

Sadly, there’s too much fixation on skin tone, isn’t there? We are all human and underneath our skin, we all have the same colour blood and bones.

Joelsnan Mon 21-May-18 18:36:46

Gerispringer But do you think by requiring skin colour to be referred to by African derived individuals they are inadvertently perpetuating the 'lesser being' ideology and division. Because whatever our skin colour, what is beneath is exactly the same.

GillT57 Mon 21-May-18 18:49:10

I understand what you are saying geri and agree with most of it, but what I meant was why is the black 'part' of a mixed race person thought to be more relevant than the white 'part'? Sorry perhaps clumsy terminology. There was a huge furore/celebration depending upon their views, on the election of Obama, and a great emphasis on him being the first black president of the USA, but he wasn't, he was the first mixed race/heritage president of the USA, it was almost as if his white Mother didn't exist or fit the description.

Gerispringer Mon 21-May-18 19:26:32

for historical and cultural reasons one drop of black blood meant that person was considered black and along with that discriminated against. Hopefully this fixation with colour will fade as more and more people are mixed race, but it hasn’t been that long ago since these views of difference were entrenched,.

Beau Mon 21-May-18 20:03:23

I was similarly puzzled about Obama, GillT57 - I kept saying, 'but he isn't black'! i just thought it was an American thing - here I'm pretty sure we would have said 'mixed race' but they're obsessed with race over there - they had apartheid until the 1960's, didn't they?
Joelsnan, I don't think one is supposed to say 'half caste' now either, just 'mixed race' - before the pc police come after you ?

Iam64 Mon 21-May-18 20:15:03

Gerispringer says it all, clearly and accurately.
“One drop me f black blood meant that a person wad considered black and discriminated against”.
Many black Americans have other races in their background, often the white skin contribution wouldn’t have been by choice.
The legacy of slavery (and colonialism) lives on.
Beau, I was advised I shouldn’t have described someone as mixed race, it was ‘dual heritage’. That was six years ago, no doubt it’s different now ?

Joelsnan Mon 21-May-18 20:21:51

Hopefully this fixation with colour will fade as more and more people are mixed race

I wonder if it ever will as it appears mixed race individuals with whatever percentage of black origin seem to tend to align themselves as black. Other mixed heritage individuals don't seem to do this.

Anyway I still wonder if we are discriminating against other persons of colour by not referring to them by their skin colour or would they be offended
Tick relevant box:
White British
Black British
Yellow British
Red British
Beige British
Olive British
Not sure

GillT57 Mon 21-May-18 20:22:09

That's probably the reason Beau, the USA has a big issue with race, ironic considering there is no such thing as an American other than the native Indians. However dreadful the slavery period, and the abuse perpetuated during that time, I don't think that applies to either Obama or Meghan Markle. But, what do I know? This is such a contentious subject area for some people, and no doubt there will be much speculation as to the colour of the skin of any child born to Harry and Meghan. Does not bother me one jot, but hopefully it will cause a few aneurisms among the more bigoted and narrow minded newspaper editors!

Beau Mon 21-May-18 20:28:43

lol, Iam64 'dual heritage' ?
Well my DGS is mixed race and we are quite happy with that description ☺️

Eloethan Mon 21-May-18 23:43:39

The term half caste is unacceptable and if "political correctness" deems it so, then, in my opinion, that is a good thing.

janeainsworth Mon 21-May-18 23:56:32

Some people take pride in identifying with a particular nation or race and they are perfectly entitled to do so.
I take the view that I happened to be born in Britain of Caucasian parents and it’s nothing for me to be either proud of or ashamed about. Nor would I respect anyone more or less depending on their country of origin or their ethnic group.
I think the pressure to identify as Black, Asian, White, etc comes in part from the requirements placed on organisations to monitor the ethnic composition of their employees, members, or consumers and to prove that they don’t discriminate in employment or service provision.

Nelliemoser Tue 22-May-18 00:35:53

The description of defining oneself as "Black" has become a statement for many black people to use for themselves as a statement of their own ethnicity and their pride in that.
Black is beautiful etc.

Showing a pride in ones ethnicity or confidence in it probably a good thing but there is a still a lot of racism .

Some of you must have heard this very stupid idea where several years ago some ignorant people were suggesting that we should not describe someone as Black or sing Baa Baa Black sheep etc, etc. because you should not say "Black." That itself depends on how someone wants to define as themselves

I have always felt that some people who did hold that idea were trying to make a point about having to be politically correct in a manner that might suggest that black people are causing every one else a nuisance.