View Full Version : That term - Half-Caste.....I don't like it.....
My baby girl is of a mixed race/ethnicity background, specifically I am Asian of Filipino heritage and my husband is Australian (Caucasian).
I have always thought that the term Half-caste was extremely impolite, if not downright offensive, and yet I am continually surprised at how many times I hear this description particularly since my baby was born 6 months ago. I hear it both from complete strangers (she does attract a certain amount of attention when we are out and about - as do all of your gorgeous bubs, you know what it is like!!!) and even from well meaning family members. "Oh, half-caste babies are so cute..." etc. and ..."Look at her, she's adorable I think she might be half-caste, am I right?"
For me, as a general rule of thumb...if the person clearly does not mean to be offensive, (and it is just a case of them being politically incorrect and maybe just a little ignorant) I try not to take offense, although I struggle when I hear this term.
Because of the (seemingly increasing) number of times I am hearing this I am wondering....Has the term "half-caste" evolved to become something not so offensive these days? (Similar to how some would argue that the use of the word "wog" has shifted since the 80's).
And am I being over-sensitive?
While I have never used the term myself, I have read it in a lot of books and it has sometimes been in the context of a derogatory term, but just as often used simply to describe someone of mixed race. I would assume that whether it is an insult or not depends entirely on the intent of the person saying it, and in your own personal feelings being at the receiving end.
To be honest I would never say that as I think it sounds a bit offensive. But when I think about it I don't really know what I would say maybe bi-racial???
I can see why you don't like hearing it even if people are not meaning anything by it. Is it more older people that say it or both young & old?
:hugs: to you! I completely understand and agree with you.
Our child will be Australian-Zimbabwean and I'd much rather people refer to her/him in a more kind, respectful manner rather than half-caste.
I feel this way because many years ago when Aboriginal and Causcasion couples had children, half-caste was said negatively and the children were looked upon in a not so nice manner.
I think to call a child half-caste these days is not so nice - it's much nicer to ask Mum & Dad what their heritage is!
But maybe that's me being a little precious! :p
All the best, I hope one day it gets better. I know what you are going through.
I thought most ppl were aware it was a rather negative term to use. I know I wouldn't use it as I think it is derogatory but I don't actually know why it is, so I looked it up and found this,
Half-caste (or often mis-spelt half-cast) is a term used to describe people of mixed race (http://www.answers.com/topic/multiracial) or ethnicity. (http://www.answers.com/topic/half-caste#cite_note-0) Caste (http://www.answers.com/topic/caste) comes from the Latin castus, meaning pure, and the derivative Portuguese and Spanish casta, meaning race. The term originates from the Indian caste system (http://www.answers.com/topic/indian-caste-system), where a person of 'lesser' or half-caste would be deemed to be of a 'lower class'. While the origins of the term are derogatory, its usage has evolved to give it the more objective meaning described above.
I really dislike the word too.
I'm actually really surprised people still use the term at all. Historically, the word has really derogatory connotations... :(
It is an outdated term and shouldn't be used any more - it's likely to cause offence. In my experience people prefer 'biracial' or simply "half this, half that".
its usage has evolved to give it the more objective meaning described above.
This is interesting. I thought this would have been the case as I haven't actually heard it being used intentionally to insult...quite the opposite, most of the time they were paying a compliment. Still....it makes me feel uncomfortable.
Is it more older people that say it or both young & old?
Surprisingly mostly younger (as in GenX and GenY) but then this would perhaps explain that older generations remember it as being offensive, because of the history and origin of the term, but younger ones would not.
I would assume that whether it is an insult or not depends entirely on the intent of the person saying it, and in your own personal feelings being at the receiving end.
A Party of Five
Yes, it's definitely not a politically correct term and could be seen as highly offensive not a word you would use if you actually respected the person and not a word you would use in polite conversation :no:
John Agard wrote
"this is not as an opposition of half, half, half on a person's total human complexity implies that some sort of 'purity' has been subverted. A child of mixed race is a tangible, loving expression of human beings from different cultural backgrounds getting together - that should be seen not as something threatening, but as something enriching..."
To me half caste is not an offensive word, yet I am one myself (meaning mixed race). I also don't think the word 'wog' is offensive either..
Same as I am not offended when someone calls me an Aussie.. but I think the word 'abo' is offensive..
The word half caste doesn't really have any meaning to me.. to me its just another word. Yet roughly 22years ago from being called a half caste every single day of her life my mums cousin commit suicide :(
I'd have to get in first or retort each time, "Yes my beautiful baby is bi-racial - she'll be raised to see the best in both worlds by both of her loving parents..."
I don't like the word I don't really know why it just doesn't sit right with me.
I usually say the baby is half this half that I know that's prob not the correct way to say it either.
I know if I have a baby with DP I will prob get the same. Because he is pretty dark (altho he is european we are still trying to figure out why he looks the way he looks..:laughing:) and I'm very fair.
So the baby will most likely look bi racial.
Anyway :hugs:don't worry about other peoples 2 cents worth, your baby is beautiful and special and that's all that matters.
Altho when they say that you can always add.."oh yes I know she is going to be a super model don't you think?"
I know what you mean OP.
I am "half cast". Half Torres Strait Islander (dads side) half caucasian (mums side) and i have been called half cast to describe what my brother, sister and I are mainly by my mums side of the family.
I know they don't call us that to be racial but it still dosn't sit right with me and would rather just say i'm half white half TSI as that is what i am. :yes:
:eek: Wow i would never have thought about it.
socially i have heard it a lot. It was a term i grew up with that people used to describe people of mixed race. I didnt even think about how it could be derogatory.
Interestingly we are a bi-cultural family and I have never had anyone use that term to describe my boys. Mostly people will just ask about their unusual names, or call them children of mixed parents or something similar. They've also been referred to as bi-cultural and bi-racial.
I would try to take it in the spirit in which it is meant - so if they say it innocently maybe politely rephrase it, on the other hand if they mean it in a derrogotary way put them in their place!
Sorry - just wanted to add! Whenever people inquire about my boys ethnicity and they are with me, I'm very careful about how I respond and my wording, because these are questions they will likely face their entire lives and I want to model to them appropriate responses.
I also don't want them to ever get the idea that their ethnicity is something to be ashamed of, which may happen if they sense I'm very defensive, instead of just being matter-of-fact about it.
I don't like the term either :no:
My boys bio Dad is aboriginal and when my eldest was 8 weeks old a Child Health Nurse asked if he was aboriginal, when I replied that yes he was she came out with " Oh don't these half-caste babies have lovely skin?" :eek:
I stared at her in shock for a few seconds, then just sort of nodded my head dumbly not saying anything- I think I did anyway, was still in shock! and then left and never went back there!
I have never heard the word used in general conversation before that instance, I had only ever, and have still only ever heard it used in a negative way which is why I don't like the term myself.
I must say I am bi-racial and have never been referred to as that my entire life. However, if someone did I think I would be a bit offended.
My baby girl is of a mixed race/ethnicity background, specifically I am Asian of Filipino heritage and my husband is Australian (Caucasian)
I have been thinking the same thing! i am in the same situation my partner and i are expecting our first baby girl and DP is Filipino and i am aussie if someone said that to me i have no idea how i would react i see it as rude tbh i hate the word!
MY DH often uses that term to refer to our son (very affectionately).. I picked it up from hmi and used it to my parents a couple of times and they were totally shocked and said please don't call him that! Tbh I can't think of it generally coming up at all? I don't think I've heard anyone else use it, but I can't think of what else they use either... maybe just 'mixed'.
I agree it is derogatory but then DH's family tend to use a lot of words I consider derogatory (ie the N word)
I have always thought that the term Half-caste was extremely impolite, if not downright offensive
And am I being over-sensitive?
:iagree: It is an awful term.
And no, IMO you aren't being over-sensitive, you are intitled to have these feelings!
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