*Not so long ago ‘bash’ meant a big party, ‘boss’ meant great and ‘a gas’ was a real fun time! Calling someone a ‘queer’ was tantamount to uttering other hurtful and hurting terms such as ‘homo’ and ‘fag’. At some point in time that probably coincides with folk at Gay Pride rallies declaring, “We’re here and we’re queer”, it magically became OK for gay or straight people to use the word ‘queer’ … kinda stylish.
‘Oriental’, on the other hand, is very much not in vogue. It was taught as both a term of respect and a geographical reference point indicating the easternmost part of Asia, its ancient culture and the people that live there.
‘Oriental’ is much more specific as an identifier than ’Asian’ as it indicates a specific part of Asia and people with recognizable physical traits, such as almond-shaped eyes, and does not include those from Georgia or Kazakhstan who are as Asian as anyone from China but do not ‘look Asian’. Why the term ‘Oriental’ offends is baffling – perhaps we take ourselves a bit too seriously?
Baby boomers growing up in the 50s and 60s were often taught that blacks were to be called ‘Negros’ in polite company, or (often in the south) ‘Colored’. At some point in time that probably coincides with folk at Black Pride rallies declaring “Black Power”, ‘Negro’ gave way to ‘black’ as the new polite term, and things were simple. Then came the ‘politically correct’ and factually inaccurate do-goodnics who saddled us with the ridiculous ‘African American’, making race about a continent – like ‘Asian’ – and avoiding the issue completely.