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Labelling People

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There is something weird that goes on with the question: "Where are you from?"

If the question is being posed to a white or black American, the answer the questioner is seeking is something like "Shreveport, Louisiana" or "Des Moines, Iowa"

If the question is being posed to a Latin American, Arab American, or Asian American, the answer the questioner is seeking is not "Tuscon, Arizona" or "Canton, Ohio", but "Mexico" or "China". And what's worse, if this brown person you just met responds "I'm from Chicago", you respond, "No, where are you really from?"

Why? Why do we treat whites and blacks as Americans, but treat latinos, Americans of Middle Eastern descent, and Asian Americans as foreigners, no matter how many years ago their ancestors arrived in this country?

In fact, why is it so damn important to find out whether someone is of Puerto Rican descent or of Indian descent? And speaking of the latter, why do you think it's a cute follow-up question to ask "dot or feather"? Do you ever think about how someone feels when you ask these questions? To always be "the other"? To never just be an American?
 

Mr. D

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Russell Hammond said:
There is something weird that goes on with the question: "Where are you from?"

If the question is being posed to a white or black American, the answer the questioner is seeking is something like "Shreveport, Louisiana" or "Des Moines, Iowa"

If the question is being posed to a Latin American, Arab American, or Asian American, the answer the questioner is seeking is not "Tuscon, Arizona" or "Canton, Ohio", but "Mexico" or "China". And what's worse, if this brown person you just met responds "I'm from Chicago", you respond, "No, where are you really from?"

Why? Why do we treat whites and blacks as Americans, but treat latinos, Americans of Middle Eastern descent, and Asian Americans as foreigners, no matter how many years ago their ancestors arrived in this country?

In fact, why is it so damn important to find out whether someone is of Puerto Rican descent or of Indian descent? And speaking of the latter, why do you think it's a cute follow-up question to ask "dot or feather"? Do you ever think about how someone feels when you ask these questions? To always be "the other"? To never just be an American?
Good on you Russell! :agree

While you are at it, tell them about political labeling too! I'm so sick of liberal/conservative labels! All they do is provide an excuse to close your mind. If you are liberal or conservative on every issue you've probably stopped thinking years ago! I'm liberal on some issues and conservative on others. It's called being open minded, rather than an ideolog!
:2wave:
 
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There's a guy at work who calls me liberal all the time. It pisses me off.
 

Mr. D

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Russell Hammond said:
There's a guy at work who calls me liberal all the time. It pisses me off.
I know the feeling! It's easier than dealing with your ideas!
:2wave:
 

Brutus

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We treat latinos, asians, and middle-easterners different because they look different (as a society, obviously not all individuals think this way). And we ask the question probably because it has been passed down from our ancestors.

Also, I don't know about you, but I'm proud of my roots. Many don't consider themselves to be American, because they are not Native American. I ask about other's nationalities not because of racism, but because of common bonds.

And Mr. D. Funny how you use the political labels to identify yourself, even though you condemn them (liberal on some conservative on some). Also, most people aren't conservative or liberal on all issues. Generally, if they consider themselves liberal or conservative they are liberal or conservative on most issues.
 

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Brutus said:
And Mr. D. Funny how you use the political labels to identify yourself, even though you condemn them (liberal on some conservative on some). Also, most people aren't conservative or liberal on all issues. Generally, if they consider themselves liberal or conservative they are liberal or conservative on most issues.
I'm not condeming the terms themselves. My only problem is people who label others so they don't have to consider their points of view with an open mind. The ad hominem fallacy. Attack the man (with a label) rather than his argument.
 
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Brutus said:
We treat latinos, asians, and middle-easterners different because they look different (as a society, obviously not all individuals think this way). And we ask the question probably because it has been passed down from our ancestors.

Also, I don't know about you, but I'm proud of my roots. Many don't consider themselves to be American, because they are not Native American. I ask about other's nationalities not because of racism, but because of common bonds.
I don't know too many citizens of the United States who don't consider themselves to be Americans. If you asked me what my nationality is, I would say I'm American, or I'm from the United States. I wouldn't say well, I'm 1/2 German, 1/4 Norweigan, and 1/4 other Western European. Perhaps you're proud of your ethnicity, and that's fine, but that's not necessarily the case with most people.

Who your ancestors are is not your nationality. Most people who are born in the States consider themselves to be Americans, and when you ask what their nationality is, it makes them feel like they don't belong--that they'll never be anything more than a hyphenated American--no matter how good they are at football, how many Republican campaign rallies they attend, or how many generations of their ancestors lived in Ohio. When you ask the question... you are telling them, "we're not the same."

Also, if someone wants to tell you their ethnicity, they will usually volunteer the information without being asked. For example, I have a friend who declares loudly all the time that he does things a certain way because he grew up in a Filipino family.
 
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