Speaking of which

I heard the word “Oriental” used to refer to people three times this weekend, and somebody told me that her kid had slanty eyes just like mine.


10 thoughts on “Speaking of which

  1. W T F! It’s exhausting, isn’t it?

    I was at a “regular” grocery store today. I overheard a white guy saying something stupid about food items at the Asian food section. He got louder and louder, like he had never seen ramen and oyster sauce before. Strangely, his “Oriental” girlfriend was right there laughing with him. What can possibly be so funny about Asian food items? I didn’t get any of the joke. I think they must be on their first date. He was trying too hard and she was too polite to tell him to cut it out.

  2. I bump into this regularly – but in the SF Bay area? I don’t get how someone could live here most of their life and not already understand this?

    At one point I decided it has to be willful. I asked a real estate agent, upon her using the word, if she would do this to and in the company of an Asian person. She didn’t answer. Before that I had assumed she was naive, maybe just not the sharpest. But afterwards? I realized this must be entirely on purpose, and used in my presence because I am white.

  3. It’s so hard to comment here without a leading expletive …

    It’s weird, a lot of white people seem actually unaware that term “Oriental” is offensive. And then others just don’t care. It’s on a sign hanging above a grocery aisle in one of our local supermarkets! And we’re in the Pacific Northwest where there are various large Asian populations. And come on … “slanty eyes”?! WTF, who could even claim ignorance on that one?

  4. the fact is a lot of people, white and non-Asian poc seem to think there isn’t anything wrong with using terms and actions that are offensive to Asians. Part of the problem is Asians who themselves form friendships with these people and don’t speak up or let their “friends” know why they’re being offensive. Like overseaschinese comment, a situation is just disappointing.

  5. @js718, overseaschinese

    The reason why many people use racial slurs against Asians is because Asians don’t stand up for themselves.

    America, people who are perceived to be weak will always be preyed upon.

    And just as there is a political difference between a “Negro” and a “Black/African American” person, so too is there a difference between an Oriental and Asian American.

    The Oriental tacitly and directly aids racism against Asians, often playing the role of the “house negro” or Honorary White sycophant.

    The girlfriend of that White boy in overseaschinese’s anecdote above is probably an example of the former and perfectly illustrates what White America and Orientals (as opposed to Asians) are all about in general.

  6. Didn’t “Oriental” go out in the 60s, along with “Negro”?

    And another thing. I guess in Britain the term Oriental is used instead of Asian. Is that, like, OK with the Asians who live there?? Or does it sound as awful to them as it does to us?

  7. Lxy, I see what you’re saying. I sort of feel like everything AA activists do gets tossed out the window once an a non-Asian makes an Asian joke and their Asian friend does nothing, or worse laughs too. I’m not saying Asians can’t be friends with other non-Asians, but at least say something it they make an offensive remark or gesture.

  8. I actually see the term Oriental used more often by Overseas Asians here in America….

    BUT THIS IS A PERFECT OPPORTUNITY FOR ME TO SHARE…Happened to me TWO days ago. I was in a grocery store I had been in a few times but not often. So I ask the information person standing in the aisle- Where is the DAIRY? I am heading in what I think is the correct direction. Instead, she points me in the total opposite direction and tells me to go to the wall where… you guessed it… is the DELI (the dairy was on the total other end of the store- the way I was first going). The only plausible explanation to me is that she thinks I am Cantonese with the L/R thing and am not able to say DELI correctly and that is why I say DAIRY and she points me in the exact opposite end of the store I need to go. Either that or she is just an idiot and doesn’t know where the Dairy is….or maybe just for kicks she wanted me to go in the wrong direction… She was gone when I went back by or I would have confronted her about it….

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