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Long time, no see' reportedly deemed offensive at college. Why? It's derogatory toward Asians.

The phrase "long time, no see" is offensive toward Asians, according to a columnist for the Rocky Mountain Collegian who said the director of Diversity and Inclusion at Associated Students of Colorado State University showed her a list of non-inclusive words and phrases — and "long time, no see" was on it. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A columnist for the Rocky Mountain Collegian wrote Sunday that she had a meeting about Colorado State University's push for inclusive language with a diversity and inclusion official.

Katrina Leibee noted that Zahra Al-Saloom — director of diversity and inclusion at Associated Students of Colorado State University — showed her "an entire packet of words and phrases that were deemed non-inclusive."

One of the offending phrases was “long time, no see,” Leibee wrote.

And what exactly is wrong with the phrase?

Leibee said she learned it's viewed as "derogatory" to "those of Asian descent."

According to Leibee, Al-Saloom also said that even though she believes inclusive language is important at CSU, “I’m not gonna try and change them, but educate them.”

Al-Saloom did not respond to a request for a comment, Reason reported.

Possible origins of 'long time, no see'

If "long time, no see" offensiveness is a new one to you, it's not as though the phrase hasn't been investigated.

A 2014 National Public Radio piece got down to the nitty gritty regarding "long time, no see" and said it appeared in a couple of 1900 books referring to conversations with Native Americans. The outlet added that other explanations point to members of the British and U.S. Navy attempting to speak like Chinese people they encountered.

A letter published in "Our Navy, the Standard Publication of the U.S. Navy, Volume 13" includes the following, NPR reported: "Then Ah Sam, ancient Chinese tailor, familiarly known as 'Cocky,' after taking one good look at the lieutenant said, 'Ah, Lidah, you belong my velly good flend. Long time no see you handsome facee.'"

But the outlet also said that "today, the phrase 'long time no see' is so widespread as a greeting that there's nothing to indicate the term's origins, be they Native American or Mandarin Chinese" and that it's been "widely identified with American culture" beginning in the early 20th century.

What to do?

The Rocky Mountain Collegian columnist asked Lauren Rodgers, director of residential development for Residence Hall Association — who doesn't like the term "you guys" for a reason that ought to be obvious by now — why inclusive language is censored on campus when it's not censored elsewhere.

Leibee said Rodgers had an answer — and one might say it possesses almost biblical overtones: “Even if the world isn’t good, you should be good.”

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