Tuesday, December 06, 2011

White, Caucasian, or Anglo?

Take lessons in class and character from Steve Sailer. He graciously praises Andrew Sullivan, who has shown no compunction in the past for nailing people to the wall for political incorrectness in the past, for a qualified public defense of HBD realities with regards to average IQ differences between different groups. That's laudable intellectual leadership on Steve's part.

Facetiously, Steve finishes that post with the following:
In 1972, it looked like the rank order of average intelligence was Oriental, Caucasian, Chicano, and black. But, in 2011, of course, we now see from endless studies and real world examples that the actual rank ordering appears to be Asian, non-Hispanic white, Latino, and African-American. So, everything has changed!
"Asian" has been preferred over "Oriental" since the late 1930s, but the gap was narrower in 1973 than it is today. "Black" has always been and is still today more common than "African-American", though the gap has been closing over the last two decades. I've not traced the usage history of "Chicano", so I can't comment there.

What about "White" versus "Caucasian"? As far as I'm aware, the latter has never been the preferred term for referring to people of European descent in casual conversation--"white" always has been. Of course, always extends back to around 2000 or so for me, and though it may slip my mind from time to time, history in fact began before then.

To gauge the popularity of each term, in addition to "Anglo", the other recognizable descriptor for those of European descent (well, those who speak English, anyway), the percentage of total articles in The New York Times containing the terms "Whites", "Caucasians", and "Anglos" (capitalization doesn't matter), is graphed below (via NYT's handy archival site), by decade from 1851 to 1959, and by year after that:

The "Caucasians" and "Anglos" lines are not missing--they both run flat along the bottom of the graph for the entire 160 year period being considered. "Whites" is orders of magnitude more common than either of the others and has been since at least Lincoln's presidency. I could remove "Whites" from the graph and just contrast "Caucasians" and "Anglos" to bring them into better focus, but both consistently get only a handful of articles each year (around 11 and 7, respectively) compared to "Whites", which gets anywhere from several hundreds to thousands, so there's little point in doing so.

"White" is such a bland adjective or noun to use for a person, nearly as bland as the people it represents. This is, of course, in contrast to the various terms used to describe non-whites that have come in and gone over the years, a diversity in descriptors that parallels the vibrancy of non-white cultures, compared to the predictability of white 'culture', if we can even call it that!

Parenthetically, "Caucasian" tends to appear in articles mentioning Asians, while "Anglos" travels alongside Hispanics/Latinos, especially those involving Texas in some way. The latter is not surprising, since Anglo is (at least partially), like Hispanic, a linguistic characterization. It seems unnecessarily confusing to use "Caucasian" and "Asian" repeatedly in the same article though, when "White" and "Asian" would make distinctions easier, but alas, it is what it is.


Razib said...

anglo = retarded term. caucasian = pretentious faux-PC term. i'm a dick to my friends who think they're being sophisticates when they use "caucasian." "hey man, was that a negroid you saw down the street?"

Anonymous said...

I like Sun People and Ice People myself ...

As for "Anglo," if I'm not mistaken it's usually a California-specific term. "Caucasian" sounds like something from a police report or scientific journal.


Audacious Epigone said...


Right. It's not used in the vernacular, and when it is, it sounds silly.


It's used a lot in articles that have to do with Texas as well. I've not heard it (without the "-Saxon" attached, which, when used, is about as pretentious as Caucasian) outside the sphere of the US Southwest though.

Olave d'Estienne said...

I wholeheartedly advocate the use of "white" or "White" to refer to an ethnic group and "Caucasoid" (not "Caucasian") to refer to a racial group.

This is the best I can do at coming up with a rule that separates what needs to be separated while matching current usage as closely as possible. Race is matter of ancestry, while ethnicity is, to some degree, a matter of self-identification - of choice.

I. Police reports (almost) get it right when they use the term "Caucasian". They don't know how you self-identify and they are right to not try to guess.

II. Jews, Arabs, and Hispanics sometimes deny being white (and they can't be wrong, in my understanding of ethnicity), but I've never heard any of them denying being Caucasoid.

III. At least one dictionary ties white to a continent (Europe) rather than a group of physical characteristics, while the Caucasus lie right on Europe boundary. Those Caucasoid people who identify as non-white usually do so by tracing their ancestry / origin to some place outside of Europe (e.g., Arabia, Azania, Judea).

Likewise, I believe black should refer to an ethnic group and Congoid to a racial group. This is important because some US blacks would probably test as Caucasoid purely on the basis of DNA.

Anonymous said...

Hispanics often use "Anglo" and so yes, you'll hear that term for whites a great deal in California...since we have soooooooooo many......Mexicans.

Audacious Epigone said...



I knew a guy of Native American descent who was present at a crime scene and was booked as "Caucasian". The way he told it, he protested being called "white", but the cop wouldn't change the description. It made me wonder about a couple of things: 1) Inflated statistics on white criminal perpetration and 2) Does anyone outside of anthropology and a few intellectual circles not think that "Caucasian" and "white" are synonyms?

Olave d'Estienne said...

I suppose hardly anyone outside of anth, alt-right, HBD, etc. uses Caucasoid and White differently. (Or capitalizes "White"!)

Thing is, they hardly ever think through the act of self-identifying. To the extent that an octaroon (one eighth African by descent, the rest European) calls himself Black, he's obviously not talking about genetics. Yet a lot of people would say his being black is some kind of cast-in-stone fact. C.f. Mike Wallace assuring Morgan Freeman that Wallace was Jewish (not white?)

When the public tries to think about race they end up thinking about ethnicity by accident. So I figure I'll take the public's words for "race" (ethnicity) and construct a system out of them, and take the anthropologists' words for "race" or "clade" or "cluster" (race), and keep those in play.

One caveat: Mongolic is perfectly acceptable modern substitute for "Mongoloid", which is a kick-ass Devo song but not a great anthro term.

syon said...

Anglo: Cultural term (implying a cultural identity that is part of the Anglosphere)

Caucasian: Should only be used for actual Caucasians (i.e., people from the Caucasus).Sounds stupid when used as a racial term.

Caucasoid: Racial term for people from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.

White: Ambiguous. Some people use it as a racial term (essentially synonymous with Caucasoid), others as a cultural marker (limiting its use to Europeans and Middle Easterners of Christian/Jewish background).

Steve Sailer said...

My vague impression is that Caucasian was used on Dragnet and/or Adam-12 -- i.e., LAPD cop TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s. If that's true, it could be that "Caucasian" was one of those words that are used because they are long and thus less likely to be mistaken over a static-filled radio, like using "affirmative" instead of "yes" or "right": e.g., "See the man, Caucasian, thirty to forty years old."

Steve Sailer said...

I think the term "Caucasian" is not unreasonable for the huge range of people from Scotland to India who have roughly similar facial features even if they differ a lot in color. The Caucasus Mountains are pretty central to this area. Golfer Vijay Singh, for example, would be hard to call white, but easy to call "Caucasian."

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

That's a good point, Mr. Sailer. It has often occurred to me that non-Dravidian Indians have facial features that closely resemble those of Europeans even if their pigmentation is closer to sub-Saharan Africans.

Now just to throw another fly into the ointment, what about Aryan? This term is toxic for obvious reasons, but isn't it basically synonymous with Caucasian?

Mark said...

White was useful among traditional Americans, mostly of Germanic and Celtic stock, to separate themselves from blacks and Amerindians. When White and Northern European were synonymous.

Now, with so many racial hybrids and practically every race and sub-race immigrating to our countries, to use such a relative and ambiguous term is not conducive to racial preservation. Steve Sailer himself thinks quadroons are "nice-looking white people," and his brain-dead, sycophantic followers don't have a problem with it.

Anonymous said...

Police reports use two terms. Black or Caucasian. It has to do with kin color, not race.

Anonymous said...

Razib said...
anglo = retarded term. caucasian = pretentious faux-PC term. i'm a dick to my friends who think they're being sophisticates when they use "caucasian." "hey man, was that a negroid you saw down the street?"


They may sound like, as you say, "retarded" terms, but if you actually look into the origin, you will find that there are more than one white race: Anglo, Saxon, Nordic, and Caucasian.

The Angles (Anglos) originated in northern Europe (around Denmark) and the Saxons were a group of confederated tribes (compare Iroquois in North America) in central Europe. England was used to describe the southern part of the country which had been occupied by the Angles from Denmark. (ie Angleland). The Saxons successively raided Angles over several centuries.

The Nordics - well, that's self-explanitory.

The Caucasians originate in the Caucasus region and the Ural mountain range. The Caucasians show distinct asian ancestry (due to the Mongol sweep of conquest in the 13th century) in the fat content of the upper eyelids (Asians often get plastic surgery to remove this to look more white).

I'm caucasian on my father's side, and Saxon on my mother's side. I have a stronger phenotypic expression of caucasian. So if you are thinking clearly, and if you do your research, all of these names make perfect sense.

Unknown said...

I am Anglo Saxon. England was named after Anglo who made it happen. Anglo is from the south. Palmer means tree bearer from the holy land. I'm a Palmer 😍

D. Rudolph Taylor said...

I disagree that Anglo Saxon is pretentious. Maybe sounds like that to some but is one of the most accurate representations of a people albeit complicated. I am Creek Indian, German, Irish, and Scottish. The Germanic tribes immigrated from continental Europe to the British island and became an influential cultural group in which many indigenous Brits mixed during the period of the strongest Anglo-Saxon influence.