Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How Are You Doing with the Whole PC thing?

I thought I had made the adjustment quite well; being cognizant of what is correct and what is not correct. But when we were talking about a suspicious fire the other day the phrase "Jewish lightning" popped into my brain.  Yikes!  I think most of us have made the transition from "Colored" to "Black."  Although, it wasn't very long ago I heard someone refer to a Black person as "colored."  I always want to ask, "what color was he/she?"
I was confused when "African-American" came into play, though.  Seemed like a mouthful.  I asked a few friends what they preferred and the answer was usually "Black."
Same deal with "Native-American."  I don't have many friends that fall into that category but I have asked and one of my friends said, "Indian.  I'm an Indian.  If you really feel weird using that one, go with Native but Native-American?  Too much."
Now, let's move away from the ethnic groups and onto other, less obvious ones. 
Deaf mute.  Yeah, that one hasn't been used since Hector was a pup.  As time went on, someone probably working on their PhD thought we should start using "Hearing Impaired."  Naturally, they didn't ask the Deaf community - just gave them a new name.  This is a group I know quite a bit about - I work with them.  I have never met a Deaf person who prefers "Hearing Impaired."
Sign Language has evolved in the ethnic area, too.  The stereotypical signs we used to use for countries:  Japan, China, Africa, etc. have changed to more appropriate signs - their signs for their own countries.
A side note here:  this really doesn't fall into the PC category but I really don't like to hear someone (usually a man) calling an older/elderly lady "young."  Like in, "Well, hello there young lady."  Sounds condescending to me.  Or referring to a group of women as "you girls."  Annoying.
Your responses, always welcome, could address either your thoughts regarding PC terms or the annoying ones - maybe like "the wife."  Doncha just love that one?


  1. In NE PA many of the sales people, auto mechanics, waitress, etc call their customers "hon". I'm not sure if being called "hon" is better or worse than "ma'am" - I'm not sure why we customers have to be called anything at all - unless its "your royal highness".

  2. Back in the day my grandpa would refer to my grandma, in conversation, as my ol' lady. Even as a pre-teen I remember the hair on the back of my neck standing up when I heard that one!

  3. Stace - I don't like the "hon" all that much either but if the person calling me that is younger than me, I really don't like it.
    Anonymous - I HATE the old lady thing. I remember a kid in junior high always referred to his mother that way. Hated it.

  4. Living in a country where black and white is always a complicated topic, I find it really amusing over the years what politically correct names were given to the black people of South Africa. There have been quite a few different names such as Bantu, Plural, Afrikans, blacks and perhaps a few more before my time.
    We can't call our "black" people "people of colour" (as I was told in the Netherlands to call them), we have a very distinct group that are "coloured" and they don't want to be called "blacks"
    The moment black people have a mixed relationship and have a child the child will be considered "coloured"
    Its complicated! I think it is often all about what the connotation to the name is, or what it makes you feel like, if it makes you feel less worthy as a human etc.. but changing the name does not change peoples attitude and this is why the name keeps changing!

  5. Astrid - so interesting. I love hearing from people in other countries.

  6. I really try to keep the "adjectives" out of my stories when talking about another person. If I share an experience or interaction I had with another person (white, black, brown, yellow, green--whatever), I omit the designation of race whether it was a good or bad experience. It doesn't matter the color. If the cashier at Meijer was mean to me does it make the "story" more interesting to know her race? Nope. Regardless of her skin, she was just a mean person. Look past the surface...we are all the same.