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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => Research => Topic started by: andracill on April 11, 2012, 11:15 AM

Title: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on April 11, 2012, 11:15 AM
In my current WIP, I have a group of boys which are made up of many races -- and they're celebrating this fact.  I'm not sure what the current words are for different races these days (I don't want to use anything even remotely offensive).  I tend to use (and hear around this area) 'black' or 'latino/a' or 'Asian', but I'm not sure if these are country-wide or still inoffensive.  Unfortunately, because of the makeup of this group (and the fact that they're proud of their different cultural and racial backgrounds), I can't just leave it to the readers' imagination.

Any suggestions?  They all come from Michigan, if that helps at all.  Thanks :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: missy t on April 11, 2012, 11:27 AM
i've lived in canada and the US (although, never in michigan!) and the black people I know describe themselves as "black." i had a black friend who grew up in the washington, dc, area and not only did she and her family always use "black," they thought that people who used what i thought was the politically correct term of "african-american" were trying too hard to be politically correct.

amongst asians and latinos, i've noticed people are specific about where exactly their families hailed from. eg: my korean friend describes her ethnicity when asked as "korean" not "asian" although she was born here. same with latinos i've met--they'll say "we're colombian" not "we're latino"

i imagine you'll get a bunch of different answers from blueboarders and as long as you're not using derogatory terms, you should be fine :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: MysteryRobin on April 11, 2012, 11:48 AM
I would agree that Asian could be more specific. I have a lot of Asian friends who will reference the fact that they're Asian, but if they are interested in their heritage, will also talk about being Chinese or Korean, etc. For instance, a friend of mine who is Chinese sends her kids to Chinese school on Saturdays and is active in the greater Chinese community, is well versed in the different regions of Chinese food, makes fun of her husband's "peasant" Cantonese nose...etc. So while she'll talk about being Asian, it's also important that she's Chinese.

I also have a friend who has always described herself as Mexican, not the more generic Latina...
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Franzilla on April 11, 2012, 11:58 AM
My husband would never say Latino and he's from Chile. One of my good friends from El Salvador would also not describe herself as a Latina. But they may be exceptions. As the others have said, they'd be more specific.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: ello on April 11, 2012, 12:11 PM
As long as you don't use the term oriental, Asian is a good catchall. Especially when people don't know which specific Asian country the person's background is. Then Asian is the best way to go. But if you are talking specifically about your POC characters, then the more specific you are the better! Good luck!
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Lill on April 11, 2012, 12:13 PM
I live in Texas, just a few hours from the Mexican border. Whites are often referred to as Anglos. Hispanic is a more common word than latino or latina here. Mexican or Mexicano are also used. The language and statistics from my city's 2010 census is as follows: 59.7% Hispanic/Latino/Spanish, 33.3% white, 3.9% African American, 1.8% Asian. (I didn't include the statistics on Native American, Pacific Islander, Mixed Race, etc.)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: LeslieG on April 11, 2012, 01:04 PM
A friend of ours is a graduate student in an African American Studies department, which she regularly refers to as Afram. Don't know how widespread that usage is, though. 
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Joni on April 11, 2012, 01:20 PM
I read something somewhere that there are regional variances, so that what's perfectly acceptable and common in one part of the US is seen as offensive elsewhere. (Which is probably true on an individual basis as well, I suppose.)

One example I know of is that, while as Lil notes, Hispanic is still very common in some places, all the people who would meet that description whom I know personally in the Northwest find it mildly offensive and prefer Latino/Latina.

Are YOU from Michigan? I'd say just go with your best assessment of what's common there and maybe plan to discuss it with your editor (who, most likely being a New Yorker, may have a different take) later.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: MysteryRobin on April 11, 2012, 02:29 PM
As an aside, I was talking to a man once with a thick Spanish accent and he referenced his country, so I referred to him being "hispanic" - I got a very informative lecture after that about how one is not hispanic if one is from Spain. He was deeply offended, but very kind about and wanted very much to educate me on the subject. ;)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on April 11, 2012, 02:32 PM
Well, that's interesting to know.  Even though many of the Latinos around here are from Mexico, calling them 'Mexicans' is definitely considered derogatory.  So I guess I'll start by asking my aunt from MI (though I'm not sure she pays attention to such things), since it looks like Latino isn't preferred, either.

I will mention the specific Asian countries, as well -- thanks so much for all the information, folks!  I appreciate it :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: MysteryRobin on April 11, 2012, 02:49 PM
When I lived in California, the rule of thumb was that to call a group of hispanic people "Mexican" was unkind because they weren't necessarily from Mexico. But, if someone had Mexican heritage, they were generally proud of it and owned the term themselves. I think it could come down to your individual characters, and then the terms they use to describe themselves may not be the terms others use to describe them, or that they'd prefer others use to describe them when talking about their race...
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Lill on April 11, 2012, 03:32 PM
A friend of mine read a story in which I had a character with a Mexican surname, and she thanked me for including a Mexicano.  The tile man who recently repaired my shower referred to himself as Mexican and his wife as Mexican-German -- he also threw in a few eye rolls and mutterances at that combo -- apparently his wife is on the feisty side.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Lill on April 11, 2012, 03:47 PM
I googled. And this is probably useless information ... but ... I found it interesting to see the terms researchers in Michigan used while doing a study on residents in South Texas.

http://www.umich.edu/~strokepg/BASICforresearchers.html
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on April 11, 2012, 03:55 PM
That's interesting, Lill -- Mexican-American is a term I've never heard before around here. 

And Rob, I think I will probably have to include their countries, as well...probably a good idea, anyway.  Even though they're secondary characters, because of their group's role in the book, I should have them expressing their cultures more specifically.

You all are great!
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Dionna on April 11, 2012, 04:24 PM
Could you leave the terms out all together and perhaps simply refer to the differences in their languages, hair, eye, and skin color, and parents' background without using labels?

In the schools where I've worked here in VA, younger Kids rarely use terms....maybe by middle-school the terms become norm.

As mentioned in a previous post, many African-Americans refers to their families as black, but those same individuals will in a formal setting say African-American. Personally, knowing that the heritage of many blacks here in this country cover many countries besides Africa, I believe the term is limiting and sometimes prefer saying "a person of color".

(In one nonfiction ms, I used the term European-American and African-American to keep it consistent!)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Mara on April 11, 2012, 06:19 PM
I've never met anyone from Mexico who considered it derogatory to be called Mexican! (Although of course people who WEREN'T from Mexico would be offended if they were assumed to be Mexican just because they looked Hispanic or spoke Spanish.)

That reminds me of a relative-in-law who very gingerly and hesitantly referred to me as "from a Jewish background." She seemed to think that calling a Jewish person "Jewish" might be offensive. Which naturally made me wonder why she considered "Jewish" an insult!

Anyway, I agree about naming specific nationalities, but would also add that many Americans come from mixed backgrounds. If someone has a father who's half Cuban, half Colombian, and a mother who's Puerto Rican, they may just call themselves Latino or Latina.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: literaticat on April 11, 2012, 10:09 PM
I've never met anyone from Mexico who considered it derogatory to be called Mexican! (Although of course people who WEREN'T from Mexico would be offended if they were assumed to be Mexican just because they looked Hispanic or spoke Spanish.)

That reminds me of a relative-in-law who very gingerly and hesitantly referred to me as "from a Jewish background." She seemed to think that calling a Jewish person "Jewish" might be offensive. Which naturally made me wonder why she considered "Jewish" an insult!


Well, I could see if she doesn't know if you are a practicing Jew or what... like, I have an Irish last name, and my background on all sides is extremely Catholic, and I went to Catholic school and Catholic college... but in fact, I am not actually Irish OR Catholic, and I would think it was odd if somebody said "oh that Jennifer, she's Irish-Catholic" when I don't identify as either of those things. I mean I wouldn't be OFFENDED, I'd just think the person didn't know me very well. AT ALL.  :bunnyrun

Obviously Jewishness is not just a religion but also a cultural identity, and one doesn't have to be a practicing Jew to be Jewish... but, yanno. People just don't want to say something wrong and step on anyone's toes, I guess.

As for the Mexi-spa-tino thing: In Los Angeles, where I grew up mostly, Mexican and first-generation people were called Mexican, Dominican people Dominican, etc. Second-generation would be Mexican-American, etc. Unknown origin latin-american people were Latin-American, Latin or Latino/Latina. My friends would get super irritated with "Hispanic."  However, when I moved to NY, a coworker got super irritated at me for saying "Latino" and insisted on "Hispanic", saying Latin-American or anything like that was offensive. But I personally think Hispanic sounds like "Oriental" -- just terrible. I'm not going to warm up to that word. So. *shrug* I try to stick with the country of origin if possible. 

Same with Asian countries of origin - specificity is both more accurate, and more polite, when possible. (IMO)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: olmue on April 12, 2012, 06:03 AM
Regional differences (hispanic vs. latino)--yes. I've noticed that, too. I want to say I heard an NPR group discussion once about black vs. African American, and it was really a regional divide. Um...do double check this, but from what I remember, the people on the show who were from Philadelphia considered themselves black. The "Old Country" was Mississippi. The Southerners on the show were African-American, and the "Old Country" was the Rice Coast of Africa. Both groups were rather adamant about what the correct words were to use. It was a fascinating show!
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: amberturner on April 12, 2012, 06:25 AM
In Memphis, you generally hear black, white, Asian, and Hispanic. African-American seems to be a passing trend.

Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Helen on April 12, 2012, 11:27 AM
I think being country specific adds something....instead of hispanic or latino celebrate the heritage as "Puerto Rican" or "Guatamalan"...instead of Asian use "Laotian" (or whatever applies)...it would round the character.
My background is Black Irish, and we are very proud of our roots.  My husband's family is German. My mother-in-law loves to have long conversation with out dachshund in German.  (btw: he seems to understand her...what a dog!)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on April 12, 2012, 12:58 PM
Your insights have definitely convinced me to specify countries -- thank you!

And I think 'black' will work, as well.  Siska, I can't use other characteristics because it's such a varied group -- and they're all very proud of the cultural and racial variety in their group.  Otherwise, it's a good idea. :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Larissa on April 12, 2012, 02:28 PM
Robin--if it helps, Carrie Harris (a member of the BBs, at least she used to be, and a YA author) lives in MI if I remember correctly. She's super nice and I'm sure would answer an email or PM...
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: thunderingelephants on April 19, 2012, 05:40 PM
I lived in "multi-cultural" bradford where asians and people of other background celebrated their origins in that context. Rarely did they refer to themselves as "types", but nearly always celebrated their country of origin.  And afro-carribeans always referred to themselves as black and were quite adamant about it.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: jennifer-baker1 on February 05, 2015, 03:17 PM
I'd echo Ellen's no use of Oriental at ALL.

Hispanic and Latino aren't necessarily interchangeable and can be regional.

Asian can be more specific but I think default for many is to think Asian = East Asian areas (China, N/S Korea, Japan, Taiwan, etc.)

Indian is seen more for those from Asia and Native American for American Indians (however I would highly suggest reading Debbie Reese's post about Native Americans to note precise terms used). 

Black tends to cover a wider range of those with African lineage including Africans, African Americans, and those from the Caribbean.

I've seen that sometimes someone simply says "So and so was Latino" or "There was a Latino kid standing by the door" to signify the diversity of the area. Personally, I found that a bit easy in a way rather than delving into characters more with description, however that's my personal feelings on that and many may feel differently.

Take care,
Jenn
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Hannah on February 11, 2015, 02:26 PM
It's also important to note whether you are trying to describe a character's RACE or their ETHNICITY - which are not the same. Race is biological (well, not really, but let's not get into that - generally speaking, in sociology, "race" is the thing that biologically marks your skin, your features, your body, etc) and ethnicity is culture and heritage. "Black" is a racial indicator, "African American" is one particular mode of being black in a particular culture.

One of my professors in college described the difference as your race being something you can't shake, while ethnicity is culture and can be chosen or rejected. Getting those two mixed up and assuming that labels are only about being "PC" and not just about identifying someone physically vs culturally can lead to problems like when news outlets reported that Nelson Mandela was the first "African American" to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: rae-pleasant on February 15, 2015, 02:07 PM
If you have to use the words 'Politically Correct' then you have missed the mark by a long shot. It is not about PC it is about respect and authenticity. It is about being as accurate with your words as you possibly can so that you are not misunderstood. If you don't know what groups call themselves then I assume it's because you are not within that group so in that case why are you doing this? What is your motivation? Please understand that while you grasp at PC there are diverse writers who could do the job beautifully and the point is that the industry needs to give them a chance at publishing their books too.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: rae-pleasant on February 15, 2015, 02:13 PM
Always capitalize 'Black' if you are using it as a racial term. It is a term popularized during colonization and rooted in racism to describe not only sub-Saharan Africans but all people with darker pigmented skin including Indians and Oceanic peoples. It was African-Americans that re-appropriated the term into one of strength and beauty by making the color black an icon representing the civil rights movement. Therefore, always capitalize 'Black' when using it as a racial term along with 'White' for that matter. Also...as an African-American writer/illustrator I would hope that publishers see we are capable of telling our own stories just fine.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Dionna on February 15, 2015, 02:40 PM
As an African-American writer, I wrote a story from the first person POV of a 13 year-old, White boy from 1941 living here in my rural county. My friend's husband whose family is from here probably as far back as the European time line goes, read it and said it was very realistic. He believed my story.

While what you say is true, Rae: "We are capaable of telling our own stories just fine," as members of the human family, we all cry, laugh, feel grief, feel betrayal, fall in love.... True, the way we personally express ourselves may be unique to a certain family background, our neighborhood, or our culture. But if we  listen to, watch, absorb the surrounding of, and empathize with our neighbor, wouldn't you agree that it is possible to write authentically from the viewpoint of someone different from us?

(P.S. I capitalized white, as per your suggestion!  :dogwalk)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Jayca on February 15, 2015, 02:50 PM
Well said, Dionna.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: dewsanddamps on February 15, 2015, 02:51 PM
But if we  listen to, watch, absorb the surrounding of, and empathize with our neighbor, wouldn't you agree that it is possible to write authentically from the viewpoint of someone different from us?
This.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: rae-pleasant on February 15, 2015, 03:42 PM
I understand but I enjoy supporting African American authors ans illustrators. The bottom line is they need to sell books to get and keep their contracts. The statistics of publishing deals are sadly not diverse at all. Therfore I like to make sure publishers know their Black authors are in demand by being an informed consumer of kids books. I look for passion....not for PC.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on February 15, 2015, 05:36 PM
Thank you, Dionna. :) That's exactly how I feel, and I appreciate your thoughts.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Vijaya on February 15, 2015, 06:23 PM
Well said, Dionna. I loved what Donna Jo Napoli said at a conference years ago ... you don't need to be Chinese to write about China. But you do need to be interested.

Vijaya
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: HaroldU on February 15, 2015, 07:10 PM
I'm late to this thread, but here's my take, as an editor, for what it's worth:

I wouldn't be concerned about you being "politically correct." In fact, I wouldn't want you to be politically correct. I would want you to be authentic, for your characters, in their setting.

And the way for you to check on that is not to ask for opinions or information here, since as noted there are different usages in different regions, and among different classes, or varying depending on immigration status or education level. No, what I suggest you do is spend some time among teens like the teens in your story--and this is particularly important, since going by what you've said you don't seem to feel entirely in touch with teens. Go to the places they hang out, be that the mall, Starbucks, the library, church, or wherever, and eavesdrop as subtly as you can. Go to visit high schools, if you can. Interview some teens.... Get your friends with teens to let you talk to them.

Whatever you have to do! And this will not only help with THIS issue, but with other details you aren't even worrying about yet.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: rae-pleasant on February 16, 2015, 12:42 AM
Could you leave the terms out all together and perhaps simply refer to the differences in their languages, hair, eye, and skin color, and parents' background without using labels?

In the schools where I've worked here in VA, younger Kids rarely use terms....maybe by middle-school the terms become norm.

As mentioned in a previous post, many African-Americans refers to their families as black, but those same individuals will in a formal setting say African-American. Personally, knowing that the heritage of many blacks here in this country cover many countries besides Africa, I believe the term is limiting and sometimes prefer saying "a person of color".

(In one nonfiction ms, I used the term European-American and African-American to keep it consistent!)

An ethic title is hardly a label anymore than a surname or the name of a country. African American refers to natural American citizens descended form the African slave trade. It was designed by us, for us in an effort to fight oppression after being dictated to about what we should be called. If a person is not of this heritage then the term obviously does not apply to them. I have noticed many babyboomers say Black because they lived through the reappropriation of the term during the 60s and 70s. My parents protested uder the slogans Black Power etc. African American keeps a connection to our place of origin in a way that is flexible by embracing the whole continent while acknowledging our citizenship which was denied to us for generations.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Dionna on February 16, 2015, 04:14 AM
Good advice, Harold U!
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on February 16, 2015, 10:32 AM
Harold, thanks for the thoughts.

I'm in touch with teens, but it's still good advice ;) I teach middle/high school students (and have for a long time) -- but I don't teach in Michigan, which is where these teens are from, so my real concern was more that I'd get it correct for that region of the country. Thankfully, I do have a good friend (and family) living in MI, and as this thread was started over 2 years ago, I've long since contacted them and asked.

My instinct was to simply use terms I've heard around here, and with a couple of minor exceptions, my instinct was correct. Also, back when I started this thread, concerns about "PC" were much greater (around here, at least), and it came up within my crit group (which pulls from all around the country) as they were reading through the book (as the terms I was using were different than what they'd heard in their different regions). I'm glad it's eased up, and I think most people are now more concerned with authenticity rather than "PC," which seems like a move in a good direction.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: HaroldU on February 16, 2015, 10:47 AM
Oh, I didn't even look at the date! I thought it was a current thread. I guess it came back up into visibility when the boards were re-organized, someone commented, and the discussion picked up.

Anyway, I'm glad you found a satisfying resolution!
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on February 16, 2015, 10:56 AM
Thank you :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Hannah on February 16, 2015, 12:29 PM
Indeed, it's all about being authentic to the context (geographic, socioeconomic, age, etc) of your story and its characters, not to be politically correct. I find it just as jarring and inauthentic when I read something that takes place in the antebellum South (just to cite a recent example) and somewhat anachronistically has someone with a very contemporary perspective on abolitionism (obviously there were people against slavery back then or we would still have it today, but the way it was handled was very much from a perspective of someone who lives today, not someone who lived back then) and I think even used the term "African American," when that was just not what would have been correct for the time. It was clear that the author was uncomfortable with the idea of appearing racist, but to write a revisionist version of history just to avoid feeling uncomfortable about the term "darkey" or something is as offensive as actually being racist. The author is not the character. A good writer is capable of writing something that is authentic to the context of the story without inserting their own views into the characters' mouths OR being assumed to be the character.

I digressed a little bit there, sorry. tl;dr authenticity over political correctness over erasing uncomfortable things, always.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on February 16, 2015, 12:42 PM
Indeed, it's all about being authentic to the context (geographic, socioeconomic, age, etc) of your story and its characters, not to be politically correct. I find it just as jarring and inauthentic when I read something that takes place in the antebellum South (just to cite a recent example) and somewhat anachronistically has someone with a very contemporary perspective on abolitionism (obviously there were people against slavery back then or we would still have it today, but the way it was handled was very much from a perspective of someone who lives today, not someone who lived back then) and I think even used the term "African American," when that was just not what would have been correct for the time. It was clear that the author was uncomfortable with the idea of appearing racist, but to write a revisionist version of history just to avoid feeling uncomfortable about the term "darkey" or something is as offensive as actually being racist. The author is not the character. A good writer is capable of writing something that is authentic to the context of the story without inserting their own views into the characters' mouths OR being assumed to be the character.

I digressed a little bit there, sorry. tl;dr authenticity over political correctness over erasing uncomfortable things, always.

:werd
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Dionna on February 16, 2015, 01:05 PM
Well said, Hannah!  :flowers2
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Mike Jung on February 16, 2015, 03:28 PM
I'm glad people are engaging in these diversity conversations with such vigor and nuance. It's a good and vitally important thing for us to do. There are many, many good points being made in this thread, and I'm going to specifically address rae-pleasant's comments about the importance of people telling their own stories. There is a way in which I think that's a separate conversation from the one taking place in this thread, which is explicitly about how to identify racial and ethnic heritage, but there's a way in which I think it's not separate at all, but inextricably related.

I happen to believe very strongly that we all have the right to create stories about characters whose identities and backgrounds differ from our own. I also happen to believe, with equal strength, that we all have the right to create stories about characters whose identities and backgrounds are rooted in our own. However, the latter is not, to come right out and say it, a right that we all currently experience with the same degree of fullness and satisfaction. The work of advancing diversity in children's literature so that it matches the actual reality of the world we live in involves both the books being published AND the people who create, publish, promote, distribute, and sell those books.

I don't think that means all of our conversations about diversity have to be conflated every time we discuss one aspect of diversity; I think there are plenty of times when we can and should focus on something resembling a single talking point, whether it's the word choices we make when writing about people of a certain racial background, or the ways we can support an illustrator or author who identifies as someone from an underrepresented community.

However, it's becoming clearer and clearer to me that different facets of the diversity dialogue are provoked in an astonishingly high number of ways. The mere mention of a certain word can spark painful, deeply internalized emotional connections for us. I'll say that "PC" is one of those terms for me, because my perception is that it's become something that's used to diminish and invalidate statements and beliefs about diversity. That's not at all what andracill was doing when she started this thread - her intent was clearly at the other end of the spectrum, and that's important to acknowledge. Still, the use of "PC" lights a little spark of agitation inside me anyway, because the backlog of attacking, devaluing ways in which I've seen and heard it used is that big, and that toxic.

I think there's enormous value and truth in all of the comments that have been made about portraying history accurately in order to portray the progression of change with equal accuracy, and making a fierce, uncompromising effort to prioritize authenticity over erasure of discomfort. And I think there's an equal amount of value and truth in rae-pleasant's assertion about the ability of (for example) African-American authors and illustrators to tell their own stories. It's entirely possible to say that assertion could or even should be broken out into its own discussion thread; it certainly does merit a long, honest conversation in its own right. But I understand how that assertion could be (and in fact was) provoked by a discussion like the one in this thread, and I don't want to have "maybe that's a different conversation" to be the only thing I say about it. I want to acknowledge its truth.

Rae, you're right. I don't know if this thread is the most effective starting point for that conversation, and I do agree with the entirely appropriate, respectfully stated rebuttals you're seeing here, but that doesn't make what you say any less valid, or any less true. You, I, and we absolutely are capable of telling our own stories. We all deserve to have that chance. There's reason to believe we're not all getting that chance, and that needs to change.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Kell on February 16, 2015, 03:41 PM
Nice post, Mike. These conversations are difficult to keep "on topic" (that is, however the thread started!) because the issues are so entangled -- writing, reading, publishing, and identity in all its aspects. It's easy to trip up, whether because of emotional landmines, or just because we are actually holding different interwoven conversations.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Artemesia on February 16, 2015, 03:45 PM
Yes, well said, Mike.

Also the first part of this conversation is over 2 years old, and then was recently resurrected, so it can be hard to keep to the original topic of the post.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Mike Jung on February 16, 2015, 03:46 PM
Thanks Kell, thanks Arty, and yes, I completely understand the need to stay on point in each thread - redirection and reorganization are certainly necessary sometimes. I saw what looked like an opportunity to acknowledge a thought that too often seems to get quashed, so, appropriately or not, I took it. :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Verla Kay on February 16, 2015, 03:55 PM
It was definitely appropriate to state your thoughts and opinions, Mike. Thanks! Many of us on the Blueboard love a really good discussion and this is certainly a very interesting and revealing one. I'm loving hearing the different points of view and experiences coming through so loud and clear. It's extremely helpful to see the differences - and similarities - in each of us and in the ways we approach our stories.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: JennaWren on February 16, 2015, 03:56 PM
Echoing the others, Mike -- really well articulated.

I think that's exactly what's so helpful about having these dedicated diversity boards here, so that people can start new threads on separate topics, even when they overlap. We all know how easily a thread can take a new turn into a new discussion! And that's a great opportunity to start a specific thread on the new topic.

I'm glad you took the time to write such a thought-provoking post -- and also glad you know that this is the place for all points of view. No quashing allowed! (Unless you curse at me. If that happens, I'll cry, and quash you in effigy.  ;D )
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Vijaya on February 16, 2015, 04:13 PM
I do workshops with kids who come from many different ethnic backgrounds and for many of them, it is the first time they've seen a person of color who has written a story and had it published. They are inspired to tell their own. I have a wonderful book that I recently discovered called Writing a Life by Katherine Bomer, which is a great resource for the classroom (and for myself too).

Vijaya
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: andracill on February 16, 2015, 04:19 PM
Good points, Mike. Thanks for sharing! :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: rae-pleasant on February 16, 2015, 05:09 PM
I thank you Mike for your comment. I did feel that I was exactly on topic...My point was clear that if you have to start a thread asking about 'PC' terms in a race or culture you don't even belong to are you coming to the table with enough pre-existing knowledge to write a book...for kids...about race....in the first place or should someone who has a bit of insight from living in that perspective take a whack at it in the meantime. Before asking yourself questions like PC...ask yourself why am I trying to write this story in the first place? What is my motivation? Who is my audience? What do I offer them in undertaking this project? What preexisting knowledge do I have or am I starting from scratch? Remember, you might have to go to a public school full of Black kids, for example, and talk about this book and about race. Are you ready to do that?

I work in museums as a day job and the same issues are happening there. I wanted to study a piece of Renaissance art at another museum so the curators and my former professors said to me...can you read 16thC Italian? What courses have you taken on the subject? Show me your writing samples related to the subject? Have you been to Italy to see this work in real life? i.e....what do you have as a foundation to begin this project. Yes, I can learn more things but what is my motivation and what is my foundation of knowledge. The truth was I wanted to study the cross-cultural representations of Africans in a specific piece of Renaissance art. I had the understanding of race relations of the time plus I have the ability to talk to general audience groups about race and they have the knowledge of 16thC Italian. Together we might be able to work through this research. Having the artistic understanding, historical knowledge and language skills will help guide an art historians insight, wisdom and interpretation of a work of art so I can present that topic to a general audience or academic audience. The same concept applies to children's books.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Vijaya on February 16, 2015, 05:22 PM
My dinner was burning so I had to cut my post short. Such glam lives we lead (NOT). Anyway, I'm glad Mike took the time to address so many things relating to diversity. I'm not sure I even like the term itself because each of one of us is unique and for me that's what GREAT stories bring, in their very specificity, our shared humanity.

By the way, I forgot to mention earlier that the kids at school are exposed to a great variety of literature. From the classics to contemporary works. And authors from many different countries too. So they get to see how people from other cultures describe themselves. They've had wonderful discussions about how foreigners see them vs. they see themselves. I should mention they go to a small Catholic school that's like an extension of the family.

Vijaya
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Dionna on February 16, 2015, 05:36 PM
 Very well said, Mike. Wow. And thanks, Rae, for sharing your insightful words.
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Mike Jung on February 16, 2015, 05:41 PM
Vijaya, I agree that "diversity" is an imperfect term. A pet peeve that I have to make a concerted effort to control is when "diverse" is used as a modifier for a single person, because really, it's not a descriptor that works for individuals. However, we need a way to discuss these things publicly and collectively, which means a common vocabulary that's comprehensible and accessible, so I beat back my irritation about phrases like "diverse author" or "diverse illustrator," because the purpose behind usage of that word is far more important than the way it irritates my grammatical sensibilities. :)
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: Vijaya on February 16, 2015, 06:16 PM
Crossposted with Rae ... cool that you work in a museum! My family and I try to go once a year. It's such a big deal for us. A treat.

Goodnight all you wonderful people.
Vijaya
Title: Re: Current PC words to describe different races
Post by: olmue on February 17, 2015, 07:44 AM
Locking this particular thread as the initial question is three years old and has been more than adequately addressed for the OP. However, please feel free to start new threads on related topics for current discussion. It's good conversation!