"East Indian": a silly term

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gram swaraj
"East Indian": a silly term

 

 

gram swaraj

Quote:
Cuisine: Indian/Pakistani
Classic East Indian Cuisine

Please, it's "South Asian" or "Indian" NOT "East Indian"

The term "East Indian," (for example, as in "East Indian restaurant") is inaccurate, Eurocentric and an insult to several groups. Consider:

The first peoples on this continent are obviously not Indians. I don't know why this archaic and erroneous label is still used in reference to First Nations - is it because of the Indian Act, or the federal department name? Then change them. "East Indian" suggests that someone is having difficulty distinguishing people from the Asian subcontinent from the indigenous peoples of N. America, who are what then : "West Indians"?

Someone from India is simply "Indian", not an "East Indian." An East Indian would be someone from, for example, Kolkata.

The term "east Indian" is erroneously applied to things Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bangladeshi. "South Asian" is a better term when talking about this region. So for example, Vancouver does not have a large "East Indian" population, but a large "South Asian" population.

 

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

Wow, thanks for this gram swaraj, I made this mistake yesterday.  So easy to fuck up due to our sub-conscious.  It was a discussion about Indian cigarettes.  The other dude is South Asian and had a long time ago hooked me up with "reserve" cigarettes.  He mentioned yesterday getting me some Indian cigarettes.  I said I'm still pretty good and he said no, cigarettes from India.  I said, oh you mean "East Indian"  Yell

Thanks again for the awareness.

 

 

 

 

KenS

For what its worth- even in rural Nova Scotia I don't hear 'East Indian' any more. Never in public discourse. But I can't remember the last time I heard someone say it either.

Though I have to say I don't think people use any general term, ie South Asian.

At least in Nova Scotia- because most people don't have much knowledge of other cultures- they really don't know what to call anybody except the obvious ones like 'African' or 'Chinese'. Our largest immigrant numbers here are people from the Middle East. By now most people have figured out they aren't all, or even mostly, Lebanese. But I doubt if people would know what to call them as a group. 'Arabs' wouldn't really be accurate, but I'm not sure all that many people would guess it anyway. Probably just mumble.

For that matter- they wouldn't know what to call USAins and Canadians as a group. People I know are used to referring to North Americans, but I doubt the concept leaps to most people's minds. [Let alone the confusion of what that is on a visceral level. Most people even who live in a pretty while world like rural Nova Scotia by now realize that "North America" is not so white, and fulll of the cultures of the globe. So what really is a North American... if in the first place I'm aware of 'North Americans' at all.]

Hmm...

Unionist

Obviously gram swaraj is correct, that "East Indian" was a term created in contrast with "Indian", which was used for First Nations. But while East Indian may be due for a change, it's still used in many very official contexts in Canada - for example, by [url=http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-621-x/89-621-x2007004-eng.htm][=red... census and Stats Canada[/color][/url] - and it's based on people self-reporting as "East Indian", although admittedly people tend to tick off boxes that have been created by someone else. I would conclude that while it may be "silly", it's not seen as offensive by most of the people to whom it's applied - at least, I've never heard anyone suggest it is.

As for "South Asian", that's also a fairly fluid construct. Why is Pakistan in and Afghanistan out - especially given the cross-border ethnicities, the sharing of linguistic origins, etc.? What about Burma? And Iran for that matter?

I think "South Asian" is meant loosely as a descriptor for the "Indian subcontinent" - or in short, what used to be India before Britain chopped it into warring pieces as a parting legacy. I can't imagine what Sinhalese and Pashtuns have in common other than that - not even proximity.

Maybe we should just bite the bullet and identify people by either their nationality or their ethnicity - or however they choose to be identified. Notions like "South Asian" or "East Asian" make little sense - not even geographically.

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

I find it best to hear from members of the community who are affected by such terms. The opinions and thoughts of others are just, well, kinda irrelevant. But that's me.

Statistics Canada is not the place to look for to find the ways in which communities identify themselves.

To whit, Statistics Canada has the following terms for racial identity:

Chinese

South Asian (they don't use "East Indian" anymore)

Black

...among others

Anyone see anything wrong here?

DaveW

 

yes, well, context IS very important;

in the review of an anti-Orientalist, anti-Said book, a British reviewer mentioned that on his first visit to India in the early 1970s he had been puzzled by constant references in the press there to the political crisis in "West Asia"

he soon figured out that meant the Middle East

the very term "Asia" is highly problematic -- with everybody from Jordan to the Sakhaline Islands part of the same continent?, and sharing a comment element?? I don't see it.

Russia is often lumped into Europe, meaning then the whole physical territory of Russia -- so Siberians are Europeans;

-- imagine if Russia had held on to Alaska, then Yukon would border on political Europe! (croissants and cafés, anyone ?) But would that be Western Europe or Eastern Europe??

 

sanizadeh

DaveW wrote:

the very term "Asia" is highly problematic -- with everybody from Jordan to the Sakhaline Islands part of the same continent?, and sharing a comment element?? I don't see it.

Russia is often lumped into Europe, meaning then the whole physical territory of Russia -- so Siberians are Europeans;

Historically the nations across Asia shared a lot more cultural exchanges and trade than they had with Europe. Till a few hudnred years ago ambassadors, traveleres and businessmen ferequently traveled between the Arab world, central Asia, India and China while Europe was mostly considered by them as a dark, cold place inhabited by barbarians (e.g. see Ibn Battta's traveling diaries). IMO the separating line was more North-South than East-West: North Africa was more part of the exchange with Asia then Siberia and Russia. That's probably the reason Russia is lumped with Europe: that's where they had the closest relationship with.

As for "South Asia", it is both political and geographical: the old British India, and mainly to the south of the Himalayas. That's why Afghanistan (which could be considered an extension of Himalayas) is sometimes considered Central Asia. Iran/Persia was historically placed either in Middle East or Central Asia (depending on its borders), but not in South Asia.

 

Fidel

Isn't this an old misunderstanding since Columbus discovered the long way to "India" in 1492? He must have thought something was off when no one was drinking black tea or cooking with curry.

Pogo Pogo's picture

Maysie wrote:

I find it best to hear from members of the community who are affected by such terms. The opinions and thoughts of others are just, well, kinda irrelevant. But that's me.

Statistics Canada is not the place to look for to find the ways in which communities identify themselves.

To whit, Statistics Canada has the following terms for racial identity:

Chinese

South Asian (they don't use "East Indian" anymore)

Black

...among others

Anyone see anything wrong here?

Does Black mean people from the Black Sea or the Black Hills?

DaveW

in the UK, "Black" is commonly used, and accepted by what I hear, to mean non-white, and broadly including South Asian;

this goes for census forms and newspaper references, I think, to Pakistani and Indian Britons

 

 

Fidel

It could be code for Black Forest. And they could be fascists. Fascists like to wear basic black clothing and such. Sure it sounds silly. Just sayin' 

DaveW

I was wrong about the term Black in the UK census, at least:

http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/nugget.asp?ID=273
\
but in general British parlance and the press, it often is used broadly, denoting South Asian, too.
But then, this thread sidesteps the general issue of ethnic group names and how seriously to take them.
In the U.S., over 2-3 generations the accepted nomenclature for Black Americans has gone from coloured to Negro to black to African American, and leads to some incoherence and absurdities.
Many black Americans did not like the new term "African American" at first, and it was resented as an elite imposition; the mass-circulation magazine Jet refused to use the term for a while.
The one black American guy I know really well on a personal basis has nothing but scorn for the term African American, calling it ridiculous and artificial. (But then, he thinks Jesse Jackson, who pushed the new term, is a disgrace.)
Does it mean that the whole generation of 1960s and '70s terminology -- Black power, black is beautiful, Black Panthers, etc - is somehow retro or demeaning? -- Tell that to Eldridge Cleaver or Aretha Franklin!.
But at least, changing ethnic group names frequently does lead to some humorous linguistic missteps, like the US TV sports commentator at the Torino Olympics, who , conditioned to use exclusively "African American" , had no idea what to call a pioneering Black Norwegian skier, calling him "the first African-American European" skier Money mouth .
But that's what PC linguistic obsession can lead to ....

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I have a particularly fond memory of watching a commentator on CNN referring to Nelson Mandela as "a great African-American". I larfed. A lot. Frankly I am a great deal more concerned with actions than what DaveW refers to as a linguistic obsession, and am willing to cut people a great deal of slack on this, particularly in instances where within the community itself there is not a solid consensus on preferred terminology.

Kanada2America

Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama. I don't like CNN anymore but Bernard Shaw was the legacy of the American experiment on CNN. Is it so hard for you accept the connection while you watch American tv in canada, or heavan forbid, during your Florida vacation?

Kanada2America

Fidel

Kanada2America wrote:

Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, ...

Okay-okay shhh! Who are two famous lefties who have little to nothing in common with warmongering Liberal plutocrats in the USA? Okay, what do we win?

G. Muffin

To me, East Indian implies that one can also be West Indian.  Whether this latter term refers to someone from the West Indies or Our Home & Native Land is unclear so both terms fail the G. Pie (soon to be the G. Muffin, right, Michelle?) "Is it practical?" test.  "First Nations" works for me and doesn't seem to bother anybody, although in truth I should admit that I don't know any First Nations people which is exceedingly odd given that most of my life has been spent on Vancouver Island.   

Maysie Maysie's picture

So here's a thread that's gone way off topic and has ceased being useful, if it ever was.

What to do? Keep it open?

There are actually many many offensive thoughts and ideas here. Do I address them? What to do, what to do?

I also have a life outside babble. What to do, what to do?

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Closing.

Topic locked