Monday, July 17, 2006

Against name calling.

For quite some time now, I've considered campaigning against the abuse of derogatory words such as Gook, White, Black, Chink, Gringo, Farang (distinct from Firang), Bong, Kaffir etc. I tend never to use these words in my conversation (and I'm daily exposed to people from around the world).

Some months ago, a member in an online quiz forum quoted the (a) President of South Africa as saying "But it is not the only disease which is of importance and I have always resented the views of AIDS lobbyists to push their nefarious agenda on Black people. AIDS and complex retroviral drugs are not the only health concerns of Black people."

I objected to the South African President calling his people Black and queried, “Why not simply "people"? Or African, or sub-saharan African, or Negroid population etc., for there are people of African descent (with black skin) living in Europe/US/Brazil etc. which I guess are not the focus of this President's views. I believe that words like White/Black/Desi/Kook/Chink/Ghati/Bong/Punju/Guleti/Darkie etc. are distasteful and derogatory."

My remark was lauded and countered with: "Black is not a derogatory term because the Black people chose it themselves and very proudly too. Infact I was quoting the President of South Africa’s words. They were not mine. At a point of time in history, they were called negroes or niggers. They fought against such usage and proudly called themselves Blacks. And now they are universally referred to as such. And when did White become distasteful and derogatory? :). No, don’t answer that."

Perhaps we should force ourselves to use the phrase "black skinned human being" for "black". (Similarly, "white or sometimes pink and brown skinned human" for "white", "more-diagonal-than-horizontal eyed human" for "chink" and so on.)
In time, the absurdity of this nomenclature should become evident and perhaps we can avoid referring to a person's skin colour, sexual prowess, religion, veteran status etc. unless such a specification is conducive to the idea being expounded.

What I did about it today?

As part of my research, I came across the following article on Darwin on the English Wikipedia:

I changed the statement "He learned taxidermy from John Edmonstone, a freed black slave who told him exciting tales of the South American rainforest." to "He learned taxidermy from John Edmonstone, a freed South American slave who told him exciting tales of the South American rainforest." I announced in the Changes section: "Replaced "black" with "South American"."

Within ten minutes, I was challenged - "your revert provides no reason? the previous revert does, it also is more consistent with wikipedia, re Scots of the age are indeed listed as such, as are most english."

Perhaps I will answer: "My reason? My reason, Sir, is the dignity of man."

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