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Ian Willow

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Is it still meaningful to refer to people or groups by race, or should we be reverting to cultural references instead?

Particularly in South Africa, but everywhere around the world, references are made to race when describing people. It is often used to portray a particular world view instead of provide a physical description. I am constantly meeting people of one race who have become so acclimatised to the traditional world view of another race that the description no longer applies to them. I can see no use for this practice other than that of deliberately escalating racial tension. Can you show me where I'm going wrong?

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  • Jul 17 2012: Mr. Anjorin, I respect your opinion here as I respect all of your opinions, but I must disagree with you as this regards the USA.

    In the USA, our history in regards to African Americans is, well I can't think of any characterization that fits other than horrendous. Even today many people here have very negative attitudes toward people of any non-white race. Many of us who believe that people should not be judged by their race have stopped using race or color to describe people (at least, many of us white folks). This prevents stereotyping on the part of the person we are communicating with, but more importantly it fosters an atmosphere that is more just.

    I realize that this can be a very sensitive subject, and that some people are proud of their race, considering it an inherent aspect of their heritage. But on balance I think that in this country, at this time, justice is best served by eliminating reference to a person's race from daily discourse. Perhaps attitudes will improve, and in the future there will no longer be any reason to link race with considerations of justice. Then mentioning a person's race will be simply descriptive. I certainly hope so.
  • Jul 17 2012: It will forever be meaningful to refer to people based on race.
    Whether it is right or wrong, good or bad, depends on the motive or intention.

    Generalisation is important in understanding our world. We say red apple, green apple; the short guy, the blond girl, the slim girl.
    Even though humanity is one big family, but the culture and worldview is diverse; and we understand diverse society by studying the different cultures or even races.

    The saying goes "We are one, but not the same". As long as there is no arrogance if regarding other races or culture, and as long as no race group thinks it has the monopoly of knowledge and beauty, then its all good.