Can everyone please stop calling white people “Caucasians”?
- This word hails from the sorriest, most racist non-science imaginable, and is kin to the sorry, racist, non-scientific terms “Negroid” (which would have been used to describe the beautiful woman pictured at right) and “Mongoloid” (which was used to describe both Asians and people with Down’s Syndrome).
- “Caucasian” actually means “person from the Caucasus” — the “440,000 square kilometers of land separating the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea” that is today known as Chechnya, according to Princeton professor Dr. Nell Irvin Painter, author of A History of White People.
Believe me, “person from Chechnya” is not a synonym for “white person,” even if it sounds more genteel.
How Do You Push Back When Someone Thinks They’re Being “Polite”?
Great question! I’ve been saying,
You know, I’d rather be called white. The word Caucasian has a shady history.
This kind of feedback is non-accusatory and intriguing.
It also puts the focus where it belongs in discussions of this sort: On your preference, instead of on the other person’s motives or knowledge.
Rather than becoming defensive, people are likely to respond to this statement by asking, “Really? What history?”
Want to Know More about the Word “Caucasian”?
For more on the history of this muddled and troubled term, check out:
- Painter’s book, or
- New York Times’ writer Shaina Dewan’s 2013 article on the Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling (which, believe it or not, uses the word!)