There are many derogatory terms in existence that are used to describe Asian individuals as well as communities that can come out of anyone’s mouth, anywhere and anytime. They have long been used, as they are often stemmed from histories that involve a dominant race that is not Asian, to blatantly degrade another of things they did not do or cannot control—such as simply being and looking Asian. We need to be aware of these terms and work to call them out, stop the use of them, and lift each other up with respect.

Oriental One of these many terms is “oriental.” The term “oriental” means “of the East” and refers to the east of Europe. It is a word that is used very often to describe carpets and rugs, but it is neither suitable nor appropriate to use it to describe a person. “Oriental” is directly connected to xenophobic legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 as well as general anti-Asian sentiment and violence. Today, the use of the term has decreased; President Obama banned the word in 2016 and it is now only used in the names of many shops and restaurants, mostly.

Exotic “Exotic” is another term that is used frequently to describe the Asian community, especially Asian women. “Exotic,” in simple words, means “not native” and “introduced from another country.” Being labeled as exotic is extremely unwelcoming as it will make a person feel as if they don’t belong when they are legally a citizen in a country that is not of their heritage. Stereotypical assumptions about how Asian women are dainty, beautiful, quiet and submissive also contribute to their consistent fetishization, and these stereotypes are emphasized and are very prominent in western films and TV shows.

Submissive As stated previously, many Asian women are seen and described as submissive and are sexualized due to stereotypes. This causes the number of Asian women who are physically or sexually assaulted to be exceedingly high: about 40 - 60% of Asian women have experienced intimate partner violence. The submissive and innocent stereotype puts Asian women in danger for violence and society views them more as objects and not as people, and it’s physically and mentally degrading. Inconsiderate adjectives like these cannot be continued to be used to describe Asians; everyone deserves to feel welcomed, safe, and respected in their communities.