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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Is This Racist?

Saw this on Facebook as an example of racism:

“She arched her black Ukrainian brows” or “he rubbed his shiny black African skin” – how do you feel about such expressions? Do you find them hateful? 

P. S. I’m trying to be controversial for a change.  

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13 thoughts on “Is This Racist?

  1. Spiderbaby on said:

    It would be racist if a derogatory adjective had been used, like “Sunny Bang narrowed her conniving korean eyes” or something like that.
    I can understand people being annoyed by stereotypes (even the positive or neutral ones) or tired topoi, but in this case I don’t see the harm. Many east asians have slanted eyes, it’s like saying “curly black hair” or “pale british complexion”. Out of curiosity, would you be offended by the expression “hooked jewish nose”?

    Like

    • That’s what I thought. Assigning qualities to a group is racist. But commenting on physical differences?

      My sister does have a very typical Jewish nose which we have always remarked upon. We love her 👃 and never had a problem with naming it. So no, it’s not problematic for us. I have high Russian cheekbones, which is something I say with pride. The cheekbones are my Mongolian ancestry. And I like it.

      Like

  2. “lying woman”

    THIS IS SEXIST! 😉

    Like

  3. I’ll abstain from the racism question and say that it seems like dreadful writing, which is of course more offensive.

    Sunny Bang pronounced. “You are a lying woman talking!”

    What?

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  4. Stringer Bell on said:

    Racist may be too strong a word but it seems like poor form. And as cliff said, horrible writing. I’d never say korean eyes, or african lips, and cringe if anyone said so in my company.

    “Assigning qualities to a group is racist. But commenting on physical differences?”

    Isn’t ‘narrow eyes’ a quality assigned to a group (Korea) here?

    “My sister does have a very typical Jewish nose which we have always remarked upon.”

    This to me is a case of in-group vs out-group behavior. Things that are acceptable to say if you’re an in-group member are not when you’re out-group. Like, if a stranger on the street came up to your sister and commented on her jewish nose, that would most certainly be offensive.

    You know how some white people lament that they’re not allowed to use the n-word but black people are? It’s the same idea. It’s like saying why am I not allowed to call your wife ‘honey’ when you do it all the time!

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    • We both get comments on our typical (Semitic for her and Slav for me) appearance from strangers. We don’t mind.

      I was once mistaken for a South African, which was a bit bizarre.

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      • anonP on said:

        I sometimes get the bizarre South African guess too, mainly from monolingual English speakers. I figured it is a combination of my slight Slavic accent and otherwise excellent English – I speak too good to be a non-native speaker, but I do sound a bit different and they can’t figure why, so they plug me into one of the less heard English variations.

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  5. Fie upon this quiet life on said:

    To me, it seems like sloppy writing, as another commentor noted. I personally would never use that sort of description for fear of seeming racist, whether it is racist or not.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rhoda on said:

    Sunny Bang is an absolutely terrible name. Or is someone going to tell me that this is a common name in Korea? I’d take umbrage at that name rather than at anything else.

    Like

  7. Demotrash on said:

    Let me put it this way. I’m not sure I’d classify that sentence as racist, but if someone says something like that I assume there’s racism lurking just below the surface.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. TomW on said:

    It’s not exactly racist the way it’s used here. But commentary/mockery focused on eye shape is a common feature in anti-Asian racism, so there is some degree of bad writing/poor form/insensitivity behind this.

    Liked by 1 person

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