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AIBU To wonder why and on what basis we attribute colour

(113 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?

maryeliza54 Sun 27-May-18 20:59:52

Exactly - it’s not rocket science is it

Jalima1108 Sun 27-May-18 20:03:56

Perhaps 'where do you live?'

maryeliza54 Sun 27-May-18 20:01:58

I think asking a black person where they are from is really a potential minefield as we don’t know what experiences they’ve had if that type of question - I think we should be much more nuanced in how we ask that question - there are lots of ways to do that depending on the circumstances we meet them in

Jalima1108 Sun 27-May-18 19:58:44

Eglantine grin

I met someone recently who was very anxious to explain that, although she was from Port Glasgow, it wasn't actually Port Glasgow - all I was going to ask was did she know my friend from there?

Jalima1108 Sun 27-May-18 19:56:42

It’s the follow-up question that’s important - avoiding the assumption that because someone is a person of colour they have been born in a certain place.

That's right janea

I've been called 'me luverr' many times and never assumed anything grin

Eglantine21 Sun 27-May-18 19:56:36

I was at next doors house warming party and asked them, “So what made you decide to live here?”
The husband painstakingly explained that although India was a rapidly developing country they thought the culture and opportunities that Britain offered were their best chance of making a good life for their family.

What I really meant was why this bit of town ?

Bridgeit Sun 27-May-18 19:49:58

Ha that’s good to know Petra, thanks me lover?

PS, my other half once said that to a lady, who rapidly replied , I assure you My lover you will never be ?

janeainsworth Sun 27-May-18 19:34:20

I don’t think there’s anything wrong in asking where someone is from. It’s a common way of getting to know someone and initiating a hopefully polite conversation.
It’s the follow-up question that’s important - avoiding the assumption that because someone is a person of colour they have been born in a certain place.
And asking where someone is from doesn’t necessarily mean asking where they were born. It can mean where they grew up or where do they live now.
My DC were all born in Hongkong but if you asked them where they were from, they wouldn’t say they were from China. They might say Newcastle (where they were brought up) or most probably, where they live now.

Jalima1108 Sun 27-May-18 17:47:54

I only usually ask if I recognise an accent as being 'from home'

petra Sun 27-May-18 17:42:02

One of the most intelligent men I ever knew (Patrick ) had the same accent.

Bridgeit Sat 26-May-18 21:56:51

I have an accent that seems to invite,comments or inquisitiveness about my origins, it is associated with certain phrases & perhaps even IQ.
There must be something inherent in humans to want to catagorise each other ,one would like to think to better understand each other,but more often it is judgemental. The problems arise when the judgement is steeped in bias ,pre judgements, ignorance, intolerance etc,

maryeliza54 Sat 26-May-18 21:42:05

Yes we should be hesitant to ask where someone comes from if they are a different colour because that has been a loaded question for many people. Asking a white person IS different. If I met a black person who had an accent I thought I recognised I would say - is that a xxxxx accent I’m hearing, I used to live there.

Jalima1108 Sat 26-May-18 17:44:39

^ It will be good when people stop asking such questions.^
should we be hesitant to ask where someone is from if they are a different colour to us? I recently met someone and asked where he was from because his accent was similar to mine (not the same town in fact, but nearby) and we had a chat about it.

Gerispringer Sat 26-May-18 08:13:27

A non white friend is often asked “ where are you from?” When she say “London”, the follow up question often is: “ But where are you from originally?” She then replies “London”. It will be good when people stop asking such questions.

Elrel Sat 26-May-18 01:01:42

Waiting for someone from the sub-continent to comment on 'wheaten' young women being more sought after in matrimonial advertisements.

Eloethan Sat 26-May-18 00:28:30

I am so pleased to see the last few contributions.

joelsnan You expressed puzzlement as to why "many [mixed race] people choose to identify with a group who consider that they are disadvantaged."

First of all, black people don't just consider they are disadvantaged. A great deal of research has shown quite clearly that they are disadvantaged in education, employment, housing, and the justice system.

As others have already pointed out, mixed race people tend be viewed by the predominantly white population as being black. I'm sure anyone on here who has mixed race children/relatives born in this country can give examples of them being asked where they come from, surely indicating that their skin colour sets them apart from the mainstream population? I don't think either of my children spend too much time thinking about whether they feel they are white or mixed race but occasions have arisen when the behaviour and comments of white people have forced them to do so.

Iam64 Fri 25-May-18 07:48:26

I agree with you maryeliza. I had a work colleague who only identified as white. His father was black West Indian origin, his mother white British. He’d been brought up in England, went to private school and been ‘privileged’. His skin colour and facial features made it clear his heritage was mixed. He suffered serious mental health problems later in life
I worked with one 18 year old black youth who spent hours in the shower, trying to “wash himself white”.
I don’t mean to over dramatise this discussion but I don’t believe we do anyone any good by denying or minimising the oppression of black and ethnic minority countries and communities.

maryeliza54 Thu 24-May-18 17:17:25

It actually wouldn’t make any difference if they chose to identify as white because they would still be identified as black or mixed race by others. Also I think many also chose to identify as black as a deliberate act of pride after centuries when blackness was so denigrated - that’s what black pride black power and black is beautiful was all about

Joelsnan Thu 24-May-18 17:09:32

Iam64 No I am not suggesting they should identify as white, they should be whatever they want to be, just interested though that many choose to identify with a group who consider that they are disadvantaged.
This is where i think identifying by colour is wrong

Iam64 Thu 24-May-18 16:43:58

Joelsnan- are you suggesting those with mixed African and White European heritage would be wiser to self identify as white?

Gerispringer Thu 24-May-18 09:53:48

But its how others would view them isn't it? Anyone of black ancestry , no matter how little were historically black and treated as such. Megan Markle told a story of how, when she was acting in Suits her father in the story was introduced played by a black actor, one online reaction was - "EWWW...she's black, I thought she was hot"

Joelsnan Thu 24-May-18 08:36:00

BlueBelle your comment about those with mixed African and European heritage often choosing to identify more with their African heritage is interesting in that in this day and age those of African descent still consider themselves disadvantaged.

BlueBelle Thu 24-May-18 06:21:11

Gabriella that’s really picking holes, of course we all have blood and bones under the skin which is what the poster meant, she didn’t mean doing an X-ray or a blood test

As for why mixed race are referred to as black if not noticeable it s usually down to what the person themselves want to be known as My mixed race kids identify with their black heritage in varying degrees, one far more than the other two but if someone had to describe them They would call them black because a darker skin colour is more obvious. If we were placed down in the middle of an African village we d be referred to as that white woman even if we had a deep tan My grandkids come in all shades and all levels of interest in their background I have one grandchild with fair hair and blue eyes who totally identifies with being black and loves his heritage

Joelsnan Wed 23-May-18 23:15:42

GabriellaG Of course we are the same under the skin and of course every single one of us may have slight differences just as I and my three sisters don’t look like each other. We all have the same number of bones genetics defining our looks but we all have two eyes ears, kidneys lungs etc. etc.
We all have the same rhesus blood groupings, some of south a Mediterranean descent may suffer from the blood condition Thallasaemia and those of African heritage may have the blood condition Sickle cell anaemia. These conditions do not mean their blood is any different to a white persons blood just as someone with asthma does not have different lungs to anyone else.

pollyperkins Wed 23-May-18 22:08:39

Yes but this was at work and someone neither of us knew. I didnt say anything at the time but thought it had been unnecessary to say that and have remembered it!