1. from my mother . 2. this goes out to the general public that might read this. Do not call mexicans/hispanics/latinos spanish. at some point most cultures on 5 continents were influenced or mixed with SPANIARDS. hence the spanish speaking. but any person that is hispanic is not SPANISH. i understand we come in many colors and types. but we are so far removed from spaniard root, its not really viable. I personally am Chicano. thats a whole different trip. its our word, we love and we will continue to do so.
I live in California. I went to a fabric store and asked the Mexican worker a question, she told me to 'go find the white guy'. I was like...ok first of all you don't even know your manager's name, second............ THERES A MILLION WHITE GUYS IN HERE. lol. I was super annoyed. I think there are appropriate time and places for using terms to identify people....but at that moment, it was idiotic.
For me it's fairly simple and there are no triggers for offence. I was born and raised, and still live in, England. One half of my family is English, mostly from the North and with some possible Scottish ancestry thrown in; and the other half is Irish, mostly from Limerick and Galway. Both of my parents are 'white', and I'm as pale as they come with red hair, blue eyes and freckles.
I find 'white' is a neutral and mostly accurate way to describe my skin colour, and I don't take offence to it as a factual description. On census and diversity forms I get really torn as to whether to describe myself as "White British", "White Irish" or "White English". This is true for a lot of people - while in the UK we mostly stick to broad racial terms, it gets really strongly mixed in with nationality the closer it gets to Britain and Ireland. I'm definitely white; I was born and raised in England, but have strong links to Ireland too; I consider myself English more than British, but I don't object to that term either since I was born on the island of Great Britain and am a British citizen. I mostly go for "White English" if it's available.
I've noticed a lot of differences in language when talking to people from overseas.
Here, "white" is by far the majority, but people often make some distinction between nationalities: Irish, Polish, Lithuanian, etc people get plenty of racism directed their way. Racism more often than not gets mixed in with elements of nationalism.
"African-American" would be patently absurd as a term to refer to black people, and we do rather scratch our heads at Americans saying it. Most black people in Britain are of Caribbean origin, e.g. Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, so a common term is "Afro-Caribbean". This is still problematic, as there are a lot of people who are descended from African countries themselves such as Nigeria or Kenya. It used to be politically correct to say "coloured", and my mum still says this sometimes, but nowadays we just say "black", and most people don't take offence for the same reason that "white" is seen as neutral and descriptive.
When we say "Asian", we usually mean South Asians rather than East Asians, as the former are far more numerous in the UK (owing to colonial history in India and what are now Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka). Some find this too imprecise, and will specify their national or ethnic origin in the subcontinent. East Asians are only represented on the census by "Chinese", which of course is very problematic for other East Asians, who will normally list their national origin under "Asian - other".