Using The Term “Oriental’

An Article From I was a student in Asian-American studies, one of the first concepts instilled in us was that “oriental” is a bad word. Here in the U.S., the term — which has historically been used to encompass those of Asian descent — is now politically incorrect. Nowadays, referring to a person as “oriental” might instantly offend them and trigger the retort, “I AM NOT A RUG!” I’ve acquired a disdain for the word myself, which has sparked heated debate with Asians and non-Asians alike — and inspired various identity crises when choosing among instant noodle brands.

But maybe there’s a case to be made for using the term. After all, making a word like “oriental” taboo leaves people confused and dispersed among the plethora of acronym-happy identifiers (Asian-American, Asian Pacific American, Asian Pacific Islander American, etc). And though vacuuming many diverse cultures into a single term undoubtedly ends up understating the individuality of each, when it comes to coalition building, might “oriental” be the most accurate and efficient term? READ MORE

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