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RE: [Czechlist] Caucasian - Westerner or Easterner?

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  • Jirka Bolech
    http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Caucasian No virus found in this incoming message. Checked by AVG - www.avg.com Version: 8.0.237 / Virus Database:
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 1, 2009
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      http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=Caucasian

      No virus found in this incoming message.
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      Version: 8.0.237 / Virus Database: 270.11.5/1977 - Release Date: 02/28/09
      17:21:00




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    • James Kirchner
      When I was a kid, I was taught three racial classifications: Caucasian (or Caucasoid), Negroid and Mongoloid. Caucasian didn t refer to people now called
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 1, 2009
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        When I was a kid, I was taught three racial classifications:
        Caucasian (or Caucasoid), Negroid and Mongoloid.

        "Caucasian" didn't refer to people now called "white", but also to
        people from the Indian subcontinent and to most Latin Americans. This
        meant that as an American of German-Czech ancestry, I was of the same
        race as the Lebanese, the Iranians, the East Indians and the Sri
        Lankans. Skin color was not the determinant of one's racial
        classification, but largely facial features and probable source of
        ancestral migration. When "white" was used as shorthand for
        "Caucasian", I understood it to include me, most Mexicans and
        everybody in New Delhi. This was how I was taught.

        As far as I know, it is still believed that the original speakers of
        the Indo-European languages originated in the Caucasus and spread west
        to Europe and south to India, whatever race they were.

        The idea of "Caucasian" meaning a "white Westerner" is a product of
        the narrowing of racial distinctions in the US, arising from US
        government racial classifications, which in my opinion are based
        largely on the racial prejudices of yahoos in California in the
        1960s. Then add to that racial distinctions promoted by various
        grievance groups, and then people who migrated from one classification
        to another as government and business began doling out special goodies
        based on racial minority status.

        I'm still uncomfortable with the fine racial distinctions made by
        Americans in their 20s and 30s. This has produced a series of shocks
        to me once every five or ten years. The main milestones are these:

        1. I was shocked in the 1980s when I heard an East Asian wife and a
        white husband referred to on the radio as an "interracial couple".
        Technically they were of two separate races, but I had never heard of
        anyone calling such a marriage "interracial", and my friends and
        coworkers also found it odd. It would have been odd if the non-white
        spouse had been Mexican or Puerto Rican, also.

        2. I was shocked in the 1990s to find out that a fifth-generation,
        one-eighth Irish, Lebanese-American coworker was listing herself as
        "Asian" on federal forms, obviously for the purpose of hiring and
        promotion advantage. All Arabs had been white when I was growing up.
        All my Arab-American friends are still white to this day.

        3. I was shocked last year to see a young American woman's
        description of her parents: "My father is Italian, and my mother is
        white." When did Italians stop being white people? This was actually
        the real-life culmination of a joke I'd been telling for 20 years, in
        which I said that someday my blond, green-eyed niece would be
        considered of mixed race, because her mother's eyes are brown.

        Get ready for it to get even weirder. I know a Czech woman in
        Colorado whose children think she's of a different race than they are,
        because she tans in the summer and they don't.

        Jamie

        On Mar 1, 2009, at 11:22 AM, Check Your Czech! wrote:

        > Where does the term Caucasian, referring to a white Westerner, come
        > from? Caucasus? Does
        > the white race originate in Russia? :o)
        >
        >
        >



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