Up Front by Emma Hart

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Up Front: A Word in Your Ear

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  • Islander,

    "disconnected from our cultural identity"???
    "Who is us anyway?"

    Recordari, with all due respect (none at this particular queried moment in time) what shit are you talking about here?

    I would venture an assertion: most ANZers know precisely their familial & racial backgrounds. Most of us are very happy to assert our ancestries - and claim to be New Zealanders.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Articulated. Absolutely. I remember that about you.

    The way you articulated at uni did make you very persuasive.

    Um. That's true. I blame the yoga. Also, shut up.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4651 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    If a Dutch person is in say, the US and they are asked which ethnic group they belong to, do they say "I'm European" or do they say "I'm Dutch".

    Caucasian?

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    the biggest shift is towards multiple ethnic identities so the short answer is yes. Tick as many options as you like.

    I always tick three. Boo-yah, statisticians!

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    Islander: Perhaps you can allow me the fact that I thought better of it and deleted it? Before seeing your reply.

    For what it's worth (given your 'no respect' comment, probably not much) I am also happy to call myself a New Zealander, Pakeha, and as I mentioned Kiwi. I'm also a little prone to hyperbole and contrariness in unhelpful situations. So sue me.

    Thanks for the put down though. Great way to start the day.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    If a Dutch person is in say, the US and they are asked which ethnic group they belong to, do they say "I'm European" or do they say "I'm Dutch".

    Caucasian?

    And would that provide any reliable information? Wikipedia shows well that can of worms, wriggling especially vigorously on the discussion/talk pages. There I found the answer to a question that's puzzled me, how that daft term came into use seemingly without regard to the peoples of the Caucasus mountains and vicinity. Unsourced quote -

    the word caucasian originated from Caucasia, A small island off the coast of Oklahoma.

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Caucasian?
    And would that provide any reliable information?

    The usefulness of terms like Caucasian (or any other generic ethnic terms like Hispanic, African American, Asian etc) surely depends on the context. In American crime drama (where I've learnt everything about America) these terms appear to be used by cops to provide a shorthand description of the person they're looking for. I'd say it's very useful for that.

    I can imagine other contexts where the ethnic terms used are technically wrong, but serve a purpose as it's understood within that context what's being referred to.

    In the above context I'd be referred to as a Caucasian. That would be a less likely description here in NZ.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Race and ethnicity are also not the same thing. The police seem to have an interesting time with that, but then they're trying to describe someone's glanced exterior rather than surveying a person about what cultures they belong to.

    do they say "I'm European" or do they say "I'm Dutch"

    Part of the issue with our own official ethnicity categorisation is the way what people call themselves (Dutch, Korean, Korean New Zealander) gets aggregated into blunt categories like European or Asian that a person would not use about themselves - but which policy is often expressed in.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    The police seem to have an interesting time with that, but then they're trying to describe someone's glanced exterior rather than surveying a person about what cultures they belong to.

    Yes, and in some health research for instance, they may be more interested in what race (i.e. genetic traits) a person belongs to rather than the culture they identify with. In other research, the culture (e.g diet) may be the more interesting factor.

    And no, the official ethnic categorisation does not allow for this.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Except any word can be used as an insult. So for me, most times I've been referred to as a Pakeha it has clearly been meant as an insult.

    As a result my view of the word is that it is an insult and intended as such. Hence I am reluctant to be classified by anyone as Pakeha.

    Instead I call myself human, for which there is rarely a box. Alternatively I call myself a New Zealander or kiwi and if pressed will note my European extraction (two dutch parents and a EU passport counts).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Bart, can you describe the situation because I have never seen that for me or anyone around me (and I'm having trouble imagining how it would work).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • recordari,

    See, I don't think it is that simple, or clear cut and it certainly seems to be a subject on which becoming unarticulated is not uncommon.

    Triple negative! Sweet.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Sacha growing up and being called a Fucking Pakeha back when fuck was a real swear word kinda covers my experience.

    It happens less now. But now it is more along the lines of "what would a Pakeha know about ..." which is more subtle and reliant on tone to deliver the full insult. Because you know there are no white people in New Zealand capable of understanding ... X, Y or Z topic.

    I don't necessarily believe my experience is universal, but for me, it is enough to not really want to have anyone define me as Pakeha.

    Not sure why you have trouble imagining it. The history of having words twisted into insults is long and storied, eg all the words I've used over the years to describe differently abled humans have become insults and now not really the kind of words I want to use nor that those humans want to hear.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Philip Challinor,

    As a copper it seems I am fated
    By ethnical types to be hated.
    They can be such bores
    Because of their jaws
    Becoming disarticulated.

    London, England • Since Sep 2009 • 52 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    What Bart describes is pretty much my experience of the word too. It's not heartbreaking or anything but I can't ever recall it being used nicely. Usually it's been a way of telling me what I think, how I am, what I feel, etc. It might even have truth to it, the way stereotypes often do.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10653 posts Report Reply

  • Lyndon Hood,

    Mind you, I'm pretty sure I've seen 'Climate Scientist' used as an insult.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1115 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    I'm pretty sure I've seen 'Climate Scientist' used as an insult.

    Sorry, I know what "merchant banker" and "Berkshire hunt" are rhyming slang for, but I'm struggling to think of what "climate scientist" rhymes with.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    I have no probs with being referred to as pakeha or palagi despite it having occasionally been used as an insult. Turn it on them, much as 'queer' has been adopted by teh gayz.

    And, ChisW, I think you will find that Oklahoma is land-locked...

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I'm struggling to think of what "climate scientist" rhymes with.

    Socialist?
    ;-)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW,

    ChisW, I think you will find that Oklahoma is land-locked...

    Stewth! Must be those Caucasians are imaginary then ...

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    late to party... way back Joe Wylie said:

    Howevah, when being stonewalled by the Australian Commonwealth bureaucracy a few years back, all my attempts at articulacy and quoting of the rules (I'd done my homework) got me nowhere. Breaking

    I've been genuinely distressed by direct experience of Australian state government departments claiming the right to do stuff they've absolutely no right to do and getting away with it. I've no experience of this in NZ though it may occur.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    I have no probs with being referred to as pakeha or palagi ...

    Which is great for you. Some people also apparently have no problem with being called Darkie. Yet I'm pretty certain that trying to get "Darkie" instituted as the official name for an ethnic grouping might raise some ire.

    For me having my ethnicity defined as Pakeha is unpleasant as a result of my experiences of the term being used negatively about me or as a derogatory term.

    I find the terms Human/New Zealander/kiwi and at a stretch New Zealand European to be much more neutral in tone than Pakeha.

    Now you might argue that I'm wrong to believe Pakeha is an insulting word and technically you might be correct. However this isn't about technically being right it is about the feelings a word invokes. In the same way that my belief about whether using the word deaf to describe people with hearing impairment is pretty much irrelevant, it is their feeling when the word is used to describe them that is relevant.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Stewart,

    Sure, Bart, I wasn't in any way meaning to denigrate your viewpoint on being called pakeha, just offering a contrary persepctive. My understanding is that they are terms used by Maori and Samoan groups to refer to 'white man' or non-Maori/non-Samoan but specifically we paler skinned dudes. In that respect they are not really analogous to 'darkie' as 'darkie' doesn't have the same neutral origins.

    And I am sure there are circles in which referring to you as 'Dutch' could be just as insulting as 'pakeha'.

    Te Ika A Maui - Whakatane… • Since Oct 2008 • 577 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    So much here and I'm frustratingly distracted by work. I won't get into relativism in identity though it's a big issue with this whole area.

    Socially-constructed power is the difference between being called darkie and honky. Racism is not a level playing field, and it's so much about context. Insults are a form of power but they're also prompted by perceptions of relative powerlessness.

    Bart, that's certainly different to my experience and it sounds horrible. Can I ask what was it about the situations you mentioned that meant your insulters felt able to be make you a target (eg: more of them, you were in their territory, etc)? What bigger context were you aware of around the time and place (eg: Bastion Point in the news, prominent social or political changes)? And what other options do you reckon you and they could see for yourselves?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19719 posts Report Reply

  • Jackie Clark,

    Well, I'm referred to as a palagi every single day of my working life, and it really doesn't worry me. Actually, I refer to myself as the old palagi most of the time. So no sting there.

    Mt Eden, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3136 posts Report Reply

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