Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Refugee as a "Cringeworthy Racial Term"

The NYT has an interesting article today gathering its readers' thoughts on "cringeworthy racial terms." It's a spin-off from an earlier segment from the NYT about "words and phrases that we find bothersome when it comes to race." ("Illegal immigrant" was one.)

All of the reader contributions are interesting but this one in particular might be of interest to immprofs:

I think “immigrant” is much more suitable than “refugee.” I work in southern Turkey among many Syrians. Although the term is politically correct, no refugee will ever use the word as a means of self-identification. It is offensive for them. It could be denial, but they would rather be deemed migrants or immigrants seeking opportunity than a perceived burden on society. For them, “refugee” carries with it the trauma of what leaving their home was like, and the state of which they left it. In Arabic, it translates broadly to “fugitive” or “runaway.” That is cringeworthy for the most part for someone looking to live their life in peace, far away from conflict. — Diana Rayes

Refugee, of course, is a statutory term. Of course, so is "alien," so its codification doesn't mean the word merits vaunting. Still, this was the first time I'd head such a perspective on the word. There's an academic paper in here somewhere begging for empirical data on preferences!


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What about asylum seeker?

Posted by: Reed James | Apr 5, 2017 2:47:12 PM

Anthropologist Bernadette Ludwig writes about Liberian refugees who felt discriminated against as welfare queens in Staten Island. Agreed that this is really interesting!

Posted by: Ming | Apr 6, 2017 6:08:03 AM

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