Unpopular opinion: One should never call themselves an expat. Sure, it used to have a specific meaning, but nowadays, its meaning is just "privileged (white) immigrant".

Ever since I moved to Berlin, I made a point to call myself an immigrant, and it was surprising how many low-key racists got confused by that, as they preferred to call white immigrants expats to differentiate that from "the bad ones".

Note, you're not bad for calling yourself an expat, but it's worth a reevaluation.

@ainmosni I have a hunch that #onhere that's a relatively popular opinion. (And I of course agree.)

@ainmosni Are you out of your mind?!?
If you tell Germans there are ___IMMIGRANTS___ in their own country, they'll flip out!
Sure, there are lots of people immigrated into Germany since active nationalsocialism as government, but you can NEVER EVER call them that in Germany!
Instead, we got "Zuwanderer" (I don't even know if there is any other language with a translation for that *smh*)

@carl @ainmosni Zuwanderer is ”invandrare” in Swedish (literally ”someone who has wandered in”), which has the same negative conotations as immigrant. In practice ”invandrare” means ”dark skinned, probably muslim”. If you’re from a ”western” country you’re not an ”invandrare”, and I actually don’t know of any other word used instead - you’d probably just say ”she’s american” etc.

@m_eiman @ainmosni Interesting... There is the German word "Einwanderer:in". This is the translation for immigrant and it is neutral. But Germans felt the need to create an additional, untranslatable word "Zuwanderer". They attached the negative and racist connotations on an extra word rather than spoiling an existing one.

@carl @ainmosni Well, at least they don’t have to update dictionary entries for the old word, just add the new one 🙃

@m_eiman Yeah. There is a history for that word, too.
It changed the name from "non-aryan" to "Gastarbeiter" (West Germany)/"Fremdarbeiter" (East Germany) to "Ausländer" (this is the German word for foreigner, it got the double pejorative meaning briefly) and now "Person with migration background" or "Zuwanderer".
Just like the history of the words for Black people in the US.


@ainmosni I really thought it meant war refugee, not just outlander

@ainmosni Call white migrants "immigrants" and non-white migrants "expats" and see how confused the racists get then.

@ainmosni I also call myself an immigrant. Expat implies I was ever patriotic. I was never that. I sat down if the national anthem was played, I made noise during minute's silence for "our soldiers". I was never patriotic. I am a " citizen of the world" no matter who in power hates that. I correct people who call me an expat. I'm a Berliner too, but an immigrant. I own that label. It's what I am, for all the good and bad it implies.

@ainmosni I just emigrated to Canada from the US, this is spot on,

@nein09 @ainmosni When I first moved to the US I thought of myself as an expat because in my mind the distinction is whether one has moved permanently. But I quickly noticed that it was freighted with assumptions about status, mostly driven by race, so switched to “immigrant” to get away from that.

@eldang @nein09 Yeah I learned that lesson in the Netherlands (where I'm originally from) where I worked in a company filled with expats and I quickly saw how it was used in practice.

@ainmosni I'll take your idea for a test drive to see how folks react.

@ainmosni in singapore, I always thought "expat" and "immigrant" were different because of the way media uses those words (or "migrant workers"...)

now I've moved country, I'm for sure calling myself an immigrant too

@ainmosni started doing this too. Its was actually a little hard but so worth it, as you say

@ainmosni @dsfgs i thought the point of being an expat is that you're explicitly a non-integrated immigrant, esp. attached to some external function that demands your presence. :gummyoh:

@icedquinn @dsfgs The original meaning was that an expat was there only temporary IIRC. The thing is, in modern usage it's mostly used by low-key bigots to distinguish the immigrants they like from the ones they don't.

@ainmosni @dsfgs they're non-integrated. but they may be in the host country for decades.

it came around if i recall because you'd have english people in other countries who were there to be functionaries or if you're a diplomat who has to be in a host country but ultimately you do not want to 'be german' you are happily 'an american who happens to be in germany right now'

though its a subtype of immigrant if you want to be pedantic, since an expat is still technically an immigrant even if they have no intention of integration.
@ainmosni @dsfgs we don't really have this coding in texas afaik so i have no idea what we call our 'good' and 'bad' immigrants.

personally if they have a visa then i have no shits to give.

@icedquinn @dsfgs I've seen the coding both here in Berlin, in Amsterdam where I'm originally from, and I've heard similarly from many other places.

The US is probably different, as it has a very different culture when it comes to immigration.

@icedquinn @dsfgs @ainmosni Oh trust me, this coding is a thing in Texas. I don't live there anymore, but I used to work for various rich tech companies and it was only the (relatively-)rich white folks who called themselves expats. It was always a very deliberate distinction.

@icedquinn @dsfgs My point is more that despite what it started off as, it has taken a very different life, and I don't think we should play into using the word by using the "good immigrant" word.

@ainmosni In the corner of Berlin I live in the word expat has become sort of a red flag associated with a ruined housing market (also kudos to AirBnB), gentrification and people complaining about German speakers in cafés and administration...🤷‍♀️

This is a city with a third of the population being immigrants or of direct immigrant descent, not even counting the Zugezogene from South-Western Germany that took over central East Berlin.

Berlin already has reevaluated who's bad. 🙃

Pretty bad racism 


Conversely, with this logic, there are groups that could awesomely start claiming "expat" as a word: marginalized and racialized immigrants (saying that with awareness that such claiming is limited by (among many other constraints) the extent that marginalized groups have access to a platformed voice, an extent which I don't want to overstate because Western Europe is racist AF).

Pretty bad racism 

@Sandra @ainmosni -

As a stereotypical middle eastern immigrant, the linguistic nuances is the least of our problems (for me).

I've been called immigrant for more than a decade now and couldn't care less if they call me something more positive. As long as I'm not being called terrorist I'm ok TBH.

The major issue is to look down upon foreigners based on looks and colors.

If from now on everyone starts calling immigrants, expats, soon the word will have negative meaning.

Pretty bad racism 

@Sandra @ainmosni -

Just to be clear the issue is not limited to Europe, North America or any country that majority are whites.

It's a world wide. I have experienced worse racism in SEA and worst in middle east where I'm originally from.

Pretty bad racism 

@kasra_mp Right! But that was kind of my point. I felt that @ainmosni 's post made some assumptions about the audience when writing "One should never…"

I agree with his general point that it's pretty gross that there's different words ("expat" vs "immigrant").

Linguistic nuances aren't themselves particularly big problems (compared to other forms of racism) but linguistic nuances both reflect and exacerbate and perpetuate those other forms.

Of course, when the people are being beaten with a stick, they wouldn't be not much happier if it were called "The Expat Stick". But the fact that there (figuratively) is a stick labeled "Immigrant-Beating Stick" in huge glowing letters is pretty sickening. Language and labels aren't themselves the issue but can still sting pretty bad.

And you're right that racism is a problem all over!💔

Pretty bad racism 

@Sandra @kasra_mp My point was more that us migrants with privilege shouldn't distinguish ourselves by calling ourselves "expats".

But I agree that it's not going to solve the problem, but having a bit of solidarity between us migrants is not a bad thing, even if it's just the word we use for ourselves.

@ainmosni I always thought expat meant someone who is living outside of their home country but are still a citizen of that country (e.g. for a job or military), rather than someone who has left for good (which would technically be an *emigrant from* the old country, and an *immigrant to* the new country).

@ainmosni similarly; I try to only call myself an expat when I'm lampshading my use of excess privilege. Otherwise foreigner and immigrant do the job fine.

@ainmosni I've always found it super weird then it made sense: it's colonizer bullshit

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