‘“They’re trying to trace your genealogy and figure out what your qualities are,” he said. “They’re looking in your face, they’re looking in the slope of your nose, the shape of your brow. There’s an effort to discern the truth of the matter, because all whitenesses are not equal.” In other words, they weren’t rejecting the category, they were policing its boundaries.’
A long time ago — 19 years ago, in fact — I was working for a gentleman, editing an article about child welfare policy. He he was using the word “Caucasian” to describe “white” populations, as he didn’t want to use a word denoting color for one group of people and a word denoting ancestry for another (e.g. African American).
I said to him, “But I’m technically Caucasian. Wouldn’t ‘white’ reflect what you want to say more accurately?”
And he said, “Yes, I know you are technically Caucasian. And that offends me. The word has lost its meaning.”
I think it was at that moment that I learned the up-side of being offensive.