Monday, April 5, 2010

What's the Big Deal With Oriental?




Source: Ohio.com



It happens so often that those of us in the column-writing business can quote the response even before it arrives.

Almost every time we express an opinion — which is, of course, every time we write a column — we get at least one e-mail that says, ''It must have been a slow news day.''

No, it must have been a day when you didn't agree with me. If the topic is inconsequential, why are you taking the time to comment?

But a record number of readers informed me that the second item in a recent five-item column must have been triggered by ''a slow news day.''

If you really want to know, it was triggered by a photo I saw a week earlier in a basketball program that identified a collection of young athletes as ''the East High Orientals.''

Why didn't I write about the topic before? I should have. I have always wondered why a group of educators would continue to sanction that name. Although I don't have a drop of Asian blood in me, I knew the term was incredibly dated and highly offensive to many folks of Asian heritage.

I guess I figured the school eventually would wake up and realize that ''Orientals,'' when used in connection with people, is the modern-day equivalent of ''Negroes.''

At one time, both terms were acceptable. But times change. And institutions should, too — especially schools.


I didn't know Negros was offensive. I thought the other N-word was.

Orientals has never bothered me, I actually kinda liked it growing up. It was a unique exotic place the Orient that I was from. Then it got changed to Asian and it wasn't unique anymore. Why is it an insult if a white person dresses like an Asian or draws an Asian to *gasp* look like an Asian (slanted eyes) or makes a few Asian driving jokes, but we can walk around with dyed blonde hair and have surgery to make our eyes bigger and it's ok? Why?

''There's a connection with Colonialism related with that word, and the word is more often associated with inanimate objects like Oriental rugs. We're not an Oriental rug. We're people.''



Oh please... that would be like saying. "I hate when people refer to people from Canada as Canadians. It is as if they are talking about Canadian maple syrup. We are not syrup, we are people! BE MORE SENSITIVE!!!!"

There are alot of racial or national sports names. The Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks. Aren't those derogatory terms? Johnny Canuck is a racist caracature. If Johnny Canucks wore a kimono and has slanted eyes, the Orientals would whine and cry.


Canadians are proud of Johnny Canuck




What about the beloved New York Yankees? Isn't yankee an offensive term for american.
"DAMN Yankees, always thinking they're the best"

What about the Santa Barbara Gauchos? That's a bad Spanish Cowboy.

That's a pretty racist logo, don't you think?

What about Vikings or The Aztecs or The Fighting Irish or The Celtics?
Are Scandinavians insulted at Minnesota Vikings football games when thay see the real-life mascot named Ragnar whooping up the crowd?

I went to Western High School. We were the Redman!

So not only was I Indian, but I was a man! That's two things to whine and complain about? But does anyone complain? Noooooo, we took honour in that name that's been around since WWI.


What's next? I can't to into an antique shop and call China, China anymore? I have to call it porcelin or some crap like that?

This names are not racist. Native Indians in fact FIGHTING to save their names so that their history is preserves.



N.D. School Fights to Save "Fighting Sioux" Logo

That brings me to a story about my cousin. He was 12 years old and switching channels and saw a Fighting Sioux hockey game. It interested him enough that he wrote a paper about their history and got an A. So why can't people learn about Orientals? We always argue that we aren't represented right? So we're being represented here. 100 years of history.

I think it's cool that there's a team named Orientals because there is no proof that he use of the name itself is hostile or abusive nor does it creates a hostile or abusive environment.

I ask again, how did Oriental become an offensive term? The word Orient still exists. There's an Orient Travel Ltd. There's an Orient everything. So people from the Orient are called Oriental? What's wrong with that? Orient is a Latin word.

In British English, the term Asian generally refers to people originating from the Indian Subcontinent and its surrounding countries[7]. Oriental is used to describe people of Eastern and Southeast Asian descent, most particularly Chinese and Japanese. This usage reflects historic immigration into the UK, since more than 50% of the non-European population is British Asian, whereas East and Southeast Asians comprise only 5-6% of the non-European population. Of those, the majority are of Chinese descent.

Oriental is not usually considered an offensive term in Britain.


Be proud! If I had a baseball team I'd call them the Woks. My logo would be a BIG Wok and a happy face and two hands. It would look like either Marvin the Martian or Peter Puck.


The commentary would be fun.

"And that's another walk and bring in a run, the Woks are walking everyone"
"And that's a line drive double play, they had no chance on that one, Wok'd right into it.

5 comments:

Matt said...

I honestly don't see how being called Oriental is any more demeaning than being called Asian?

The term "Oriental", as mentioned in the post, is still widely used in Britain today, so why should that word be demeaning in North America but not in Britain?

But on another note, why make a team name something like Orientals? Or Indians? The use of ethnic terms as a team name is for pride? Only makes sense to me if there are people of that ethnic background that are proud of it, but in this case, it doesn't appear so.

Degenerasian said...

"Only makes sense to me if there are people of that ethnic background that are proud of it, but in this case, it doesn't appear so."

This is part I don't understand. Why aren't they proud of it? Not everything is an insult. Way back then if the school thought the name was stupid or an insult they wouldn't use the name at all.

As I mentioned in the post. The use of the name itself is not hostile or abusive nor does it creates a hostile or abusive environment.

Matt said...

"This is part I don't understand.
Why aren't they proud of it? Not everything is an insult. Way back then if the school thought the name was stupid or an insult they wouldn't use the name at all."

I certainly do not believe that the name "Oriental" is stupid nor an insult. But why use ethnicity instead of say an animal, an object or maybe some mythological character? That's where my confusion lies.

"As I mentioned in the post. The use of the name itself is not hostile or abusive nor does it creates a hostile or abusive environment."

No, it certainly does not create a hostile or abusive environment. Using the name "Orientals" shouldn't be disallowed by the school board.

DistantDreamer said...

UND just officially lost the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. While most people who are against the nickname claim it's because of racism, there's an opinion article from the Grand Forks Herald that shines a bit of a different light on it. Check it out here: http://www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/157405/group/Opinion/

Anonymous said...

People take themselves too seriously over in the US.

'Oriental' isn't an offensive term in my many countries outside the US.

By the way, there are so many millions of brown- or dark-skinned people with non-slitty eyes who are also 'Asians': Indians, Pakistanis, Malays (of Malaysia), the majority of Indonesians, Brunei, a lot of Filipinos, Myanmars...