Written by Azizi Powell
The other day a blogger chastised another commenter for referring to White people as "Caucasians", writing that he was surprised that people were still using the term "Caucasian". So that started me to wondering-What does "Caucasian" mean and is it or isn't it a correct referent for White people?
My first stop online was http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/caucasian where I found this definition:
1. of or relating to the Caucasus or its inhabitants
2. of, constituting, or characteristic of a race of humankind native to Europe, North Africa, and southwest Asia and classified according to physical features —used especially in referring to persons of European descent having usually light skin pigmentation
— Caucasian noun
— Cau•ca•soid adjective or noun
First Known Use of CAUCASIAN
The #2 portion of that definition, particularly its inclusion of "North Africa", and "southwest Asia" confused me. Wanting more information, I visited
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caucasian_race. Here's an excerpt from that page:
"The term Caucasian race or Caucasian is used to refer to people whose ancestry can be traced back to Europe, North Africa, West Asia, South Asia and parts of Central Asia. It was once considered a useful taxonomical categorization of human racial groups based on a presumed common geographic and/or linguistic origin.
In the United States, it is currently used primarily as a distinction loosely based on skin color alone for a group commonly referred to as Whites, as defined by the American government and Census Bureau. In Britain, "Caucasian" follows the North American definition, but in continental Europe, "Caucasian" currently refers exclusively to people who are from the Caucasus. However, it is rare and becoming increasingly politically incorrect in Britain to categorise people as Caucasian because of the vagueness of its definition."
That page further stimulated my curiosity. And my next online stop was even more interesting. Here are several entries from http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=caucasian. Definitions posted on urbandictionary.com come from that site's visitors. Other visitors can give a posted definition a thumbs up or thumbs down rating for accuracy (and probably also writing style). Warning: Some definitions posted on urbandictionary.com are gag entries and/or are racist, sexist, profane, and/or homophobic, and therefore-in my opinion- aren't suitable for children or teens.
As of September 19, 2011 the highest ranking urbandictionary.com definition for the referent "Caucasian" was that provided by Evey_9 Nov 16, 2006 [1113 up, 490 down]. If I correctly understand what Every_9 wrote, he or she takes the position that continental or nationality referents should be used instead of the referents "Caucasian" or "white".
The incorrect term used to label a "white" man or woman. The word Caucasian refers to a person who is from the region of Caucasus, which is in Europe bordering Turkey and Iran. Therefore, I am not a Cauasian being that I am not from Caucasus. I am, in general, European. Also I am not "white" being that I do not blend in with white paint, or white paper. I prefer to think that I have some amount pigmentation in my skin, thank you very much.
A Jamaican man being called African, even though he is Jamaican.
A Mexican woman being called Dominican, even though she is Mexican.
A Peruvian being called Puerto Rican, even though they are Peruvian.
A Palestinian being called Israeli, even though they are Palestinian.
A German being called Caucasian, even though they are German.
THERE IS A DIFFRENCE."
Here's the #6 rated entry for the word "Caucasian" as of 9/18/2011:
554 up, 487 down
1. of or relating to the Caucasus, a region in the east of Europe imbetween the Black Sea and the Aral Sea, especially referring to the peoples, languages, and cultures native to that region.
2. A term used briefly in the early years of the 20th century by anthropologists to refer to the race of human beings that inhabits Europe, Iran, parts of Central Asia, and the north of the Indian Sub-Continent. This use of the word derives from the theory that all of these populations ultimately originate in the Caucasus region. The word has passed out of common use in academic circles, but is still used in North American English to refer to ethnic Europeans - ironically because of this the largest groups considered to be Caucasians, the inhabitants of South Asia and Iran, would not be considered as such under this definition.
1. "Georgian is the most widely spoken South Caucasian language, spoken mainly in the Caucasian nation of Georgia."
2. "The suspect is a Caucasian male, considered dangerous, proceed with caution."
by MKHH Jun 19, 2005"
Although the final entry for the word "Caucasian" that I'm reposting from urbandictionary.com only has a few ratings [14 up, 17 down], it's last sentence but not its first echoes the blogger's comment that initially sparked my curiosity about the appropriateness or inappropriateness of that word:
This is an incorrect term and also offensive to define white people, as Caucasians are not white but brown.
Caucasian people are from Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Georgia, those countries so forth.
Please remember that White people are not Caucasian, it's stupid, ridiculous and offensive to say it.
I am from Turkey and I'm a Caucasian person.
I am White but not Caucasian.
Mike JM Sep 4, 2010"
Talysh-Azerbaijan Caucasian Girls Dance
Uploaded by WarrioRDFB on Mar 19, 2009
Two dances from Caucasus region by Gülay Princess & The Ensemble Aras (live 1994)
Uploaded on May 23, 2009
Two dances from the oriental musical »Eine Entführung in das Serail« performed by Gülay. Based on an original melody from Azerbaijan arranged by Josef Olt. This Oriental Musical was created and directed by Gülay Princess and Josef Wolfgang Olt. »Eine Entführung in das Serail« (»An Abduction to the Palace«) was put on stage in 1994 at The AKZENT in Vienna, Austria. The company was represented by three singers, five dancers, three performers, one storyteller and eight musicians. The audience were the guests of the sultan and spent a festive evening at his palace. Video recorded by Heinz Wimmer.
Official website of Gülay Princess:
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