Jul 182012

An on-going light-hearted “debate” I’ve had with my
“North American” spouse is over the word “Asian” to describe anyone from Asia. I told him that if I, as someone native to the country of India, is “Asian,” than he, as a native to the country of the US, should be referred to as “North American.”

Yes, that would include those from Canada and Mexico. Make sense? No? Then how does “Asian” make sense at all??! It seems like a lazy descriptive (not quite) way for “non-Asians” to describe anyone from the continent of Asia. It means they don’t have to bother with learning geography and finding out where we’re really from. I’m sure anyone from the continent of Asia would prefer that we’re referred to by the country we’re from, rather than continent, just like those North Americans.

There is a huge cultural difference between someone from India and China, for instance, even though the countries are fairly close together. The word “oriental” is not much clearer and is generally used to refer to cuisine and as an adjective for procedures.

How about bothering to learn the country one is from and use that as a reference point or just not use one? If we want to be completely fair (and lazy), we could just refer to all of us as from one planet and not worry about what country we’re from. If we use countries as reference points, then we may need to distinguish ourselves further by states and cities (and even what part of a city).

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