What race are Middle Eastern people?

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  • #3658

    A. Adams
    Member

    I worked for the U.S. Census a few years ago and am curious about how people of Middle Eastern (i.e. Iran, Turkey, Egypt, etc.) countries identify themselves racially. We were directed to input only “self-descriptions” of racial identity (no guessing allowed), and I usually received shrugs and blank looks from the Middle Eastern respondents when we got to the ‘race’ question (which I was required to ask). The majority finally said ‘white,’ which I found to be interesting considering the very specific racial divisions (acknowledged or otherwise) we have in this country. Are there distinct lines drawn between race, ethnicity and nationality for Middle Eastern peoples, or is it a big blur?

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    Name : A. Adams, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
    #14332

    Andres
    Participant

    The terms ‘Caucasion’ or ‘Cacausoid,’ like all the other races as defined, were used to describe physical characteristics and had nothing to do with skin color. Therefore, a blond, light-complected Nordic and a frizzy-haired, dark-complected Semite are both Caucasian. Today, I don’t know if it’s just in the United States, but white has become synonomous with Caucasian. Most don’t think of Mideasterners as white, and because we use Hispanic/Latino and Pacific Islander as ‘races,’ why not add Mideastern or Semitic, too? I always assumed they would be labeled Asian, but I say let them decide for themselves. I wonder what Australian Aborigines would be labeled?

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    Name : Andres, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 25, City : Chambersburg, State : PA Country : United States, 
    #15428

    Leigh
    Member

    In Britain I’ve heard people from Middle Eastern countries such as Oman, and Saudi Arabia referred to as Asian, as are people from India. People from Egypt would be African or North African depending on how specific you want to be.

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    Name : Leigh, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : European American, Religion : Pagan, Age : 30, City : Fort Collins, State : CO Country : United States, Occupation : Stay-at-home-mom, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #30018

    Karim
    Member

    To make a long matter short, the concept of race is almost unknown in most Middle Eastern countries. In Egypt, for example, you have people of all shades across all classes and religions. For example, when people consider getting married, they usually don’t notice skin color. The concept of ethnicity and culture is very strong, though. For example, in Egypt the Nubians are a distinct group, not because they are black but because they have a different culture. Note also that Iranians are Indo-Europeans, Turks are Mongols and Arabs are semitic. So these three groups will NEVER identify themselves together under a single grouping. So ethnicity and nationality are important and distinct, race is considered amusing pseudo-science here!

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    Name : Karim, Gender : M, Age : 23, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 
    #38598

    Cara19220
    Participant

    Why must we categorize ourselves into ‘races’? There is no such thing as a race (except for the human race) as we all have characteristics consistent with other so-called races, creeds and colors and their subdivisions. For example, if we define white people as those who have thin lips, narrow noses, straight hair and pale skin, we would be loathe to find any ‘whites’ who fit the entire bill. Some whites have very curly hair, some have thick lips, etc. We cannot categorize ourselves. What a fruitless effort.

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    Name : Cara19220, Gender : F, Race : mixed race, City : Boston, State : MA Country : United States, 
    #19036

    Nilufar
    Participant

    I agree with your overall opinion about ‘race’ being simply a pseudo-scientific category that is in fact, a socially constructed one and therefore, is simply ambigous. Human race is very diverse and rich as a representation of various cultures, languages, traditions, and historical experiences that indeed demonstrate rather a mixture, not an islolated development of a particular ‘race’. That is why we see some many similarities and ‘overlaps’, if you wish, across all ‘races’ or i should say ‘physical types’. ‘Scientific’ categories of race, thus, appear to be rather limited and misleading. Just like in the case of ‘the Turks’, who are we talking about? Turks of Turkey or those hundred different ethnic groups and nationalities of Turkic/not Turkish (!) origin who live all the way from Hungary, Finland, Albania, most of Russia, Central Asia, Inner Asia, Far East, and even China??? Turks are not Mongols, nor are the people of the Turkic origin (Bulgarians, Albanians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Uigurs and all those other nationalities). Those various groups have been mixing with Turkic, Iranian, Arab, and many other indigenous tribes and ethnic groups of Central Asia, Middle East, Minor Asia, etc. for many centuries). However, the terms that are used to describe them were too general – the same way the term ‘Caucasian’ has been misleading and incorrect. In we really want to claim any scientific evidence, only people of the Caucasus (those various ethic groups and nationalities of Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan) should be called Caucasian.

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    Name : Nilufar, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Uzbek, Religion : Muslim, Age : 35, City : Washington, State : DC Country : United States, Occupation : Anthropologist, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #16427

    Mike20384
    Participant

    I have noticed that many of Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French people look not so white like British, German, Polish, Russian etc. people. I saw even instruction in travel agency how to distinguish Arab and Spanish in Spain.

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    Name : Mike20384, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 40, City : Trenton, State : NJ Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, 
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