I recently went to a restaurant to meet a friend, who I knew had already arrived. I approached the hostess:
Me: "Hi, I'm meeting a friend here who came a few minutes ago. I think she's seated already."
Hostess: "Oh! Yes, I think I know who she is.... Um, she has dark hair and she's about this tall...."
Me: "She's Asian."
Hostess: "Yes! Okay, I'll take you to her."
I mean, sheesh. It's not like "Asian" is a bad word that you're not allowed to use to describe another person.
Here's a problem: I have several Asians at work. Do you mean Asian Oriental in terms of Chinese, Japanese or Asian as in Asian India Indian?ReplyDelete
I wouldn't stick with Asian. You also didn't say where you were meeting her, as in an ethnic restaurant.
Some Americans wouldn't call India Indians Asian. I've seen it used before, the term that is. This person might also see someone who is American, but who's ethnic group is Asian, might not consider them Asian.
What we do is to tell the wait staff that we are waiting for someone, who ever is the first in. The next ones in after that have to alert the wait staff. Its easier.
It may also be the person thought of Oriental vs. Asian. :) You can never tell nowadays.
She knew exactly what I meant though, and she just was afraid to say it. That was my point. :)Delete
I'm not Asian, but 90% of my friends pretty much in my entire life have been Asian. I use the term to refer mostly to East Asians. I believe it's what is preferred. I've been told by a lot of people that they find oriental offensive, so it's not a term that I ever use. I don't use the term to refer to somebody who is Indian.
There are so many Asians in many American cities these days,often it wouldn't be much help for me to use the word to distinguish someone. I'd be more likely to remember someone had a yellow jacket or was short or tall or some combination of physical characteristics (e.g. long/short hair, blond/brunette, etc.)ReplyDelete
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The blog 'Rage against the minivan' talked about this. They adopted two children from Africa and she is pale and blonde. She was telling someone which children were hers and her son wasn't dressed distinctly enough to use clothes, his general discription matched that of several others and when she said 'he is the black on' it drew attention.ReplyDelete
I have another friend who married a Nigerian and she refers to her children as 'cappacino-colored' and that is almost exactly right, until the youngest anyhow.
I think we should use the terms that the person we are talking about uses with us and stop judging people for saying something we wouldn't.