An AMA Preview: The Word “Ethnic” – A Slur, Or An Essential Adjective?

Hey there!

In just a couple of days, I’ll be shooting a video where I’ll be giving answers to questions I solicited in an AMA – Ask Me Anything session.

But one was too juicy to wait on.

I got a comment from Kendra about my use of the word “ethnic,” and she went on to ask about how I handle things when I make a mistake.

The first thing I do is to make sure it was an actual mistake. And if it is, here’s how I learn from my mistakes.

(Click/tap ↑↑↑↑↑↑ that red YouTube button to subscribe to my channel. You’ll get notified when I release new videos.)

Hope this helps!


All Episodes

One Step At A Time

Five Ways To Have An Excellent Coffee Date With Me

Five Ways To Have A Crappy Coffee Date With Me

Taking Advantage Of The Wisdom Of The Tribe

How To Be A World Class Complainer

The False Nobility Of The Struggle

Watch Out – The Rules Are Going To Change

“Show Me The Secret, Daddy!”

Coaching vs Consulting vs Facilitating

The Perils of Live Performance And Why Jeremy Kappell Should Not Have Been Fired

Let’s Welcome To The Stage…Failure!

Don’t Confuse Price With Value

Whiteboards In The Hallways

Go Wake Up Your Luck

Playing and Planning

The Two Things Most Talent Try to Accomplish Way Too Soon

10,000 Hours To Become Good At Something? Not Really.

The Curse of Knowledge

The Trick Charlie Munger Uses To Make Better Decisions

Everyone’s A Customer, Not Just Your Customers

“What do you mean, you’re a ‘process guy’?”

Pay Attention To Your Storytelling, Not Removing Your Breaths

How To Conquer FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out)

The Problem In Every Commercial Script

The Job In Every Commercial Script

The Secret In Every Commercial Script

How To Pick Your Stage Name

Voice Over Is REALLY Hard. Until It Isn’t.

Helping Make Resolutions Stick

ACX Jobs: They’re ALL SAG-AFTRA-Friendly

Non-Union? You Can Still Open An AFTRA H&R Account. What?

Who Says You Need To “Feel Like It?”

Are You Engaged?

Your Day Job Might Just Be Worth Keeping For A Bit Longer

Want To Learn Something Really Well? Teach It To Others

Don’t Confuse What Works With What You Like

The Lost Keys And The Microphone In My Elevator

My Insane Backup System Plus Two Helpful Tips

What Open Loops Are And Why They Work So Well

Two More Things For Which You Can Use Open Loops

Three Things Not To Say Or Do…When Trying To Learn Something New

Front Burner and Back Burner Project Management

How To Properly List The Accents and Dialects You Perform

My SAG-AFTRA Presentation On VO Demos (Part 1)

My SAG-AFTRA Presentation On VO Demos (Part 2)

A Simple, One-Word Decision-Making Question To Ask Yourself

Ready, Shoot…Aim

How You Can Use The MVP Model As A Performer

How Lazy Can You Be?

Avoid The Struggle Porn

The Robocall Equivalent Of Unsubscribe

Saying Goodbye To A “Failure”

Making Your Links Irresistible

HTTPS Is Not Just For Banks – It’s For You

The Threat That Made Me Create a New Page For LAME

The Resource You Must Guard Most Carefully

How New Media Is Using The Oldest Ad Model Ever

“You Could Be Hit By A Bus!”

Killing Customers With Kindness

I Found Out What She Was Podcasting About

How I Answered’s Inquiry

Turning Mountains Into Molehills

Motivation: Your Three Big Needs In A Cool Little Package

Go Ahead. Multitask. But Try It Like This.

The Prodigy Game Doesn’t Deserve This Treatment

I Don’t Want To Go Blind

What Fair Markets Are, And Why Isn’t One

Trevor’s Three A’s From Apple On Killing Customers With Kindness

Getting Ready vs. Getting Started

You’ll Never Believe Who Got Rejected By Harvard

There Is No Failure, Only Feedback

Who Is Your Most Dangerous Adversary?

73 Videos In, My First Hater Appears

If You’re The Smartest Person In The Room, Do This ASAP

Your Glasses And Crucial Laptop Positioning Info

One More Insanely Over-engineered Piece Of Gear: My UPS

The Crazy Backward Way IKEA Prices Their Stuff Complained To YouTube That I Violated Their Privacy

The Gig Economy: RIP?

For Your Health: Not Perfect. Just Better.

Celebrate Your Isolation!

Mr. Wonderful Is Actually More Wonderful Than I Thought

Let’s Finally Close The Digital Literacy Gender Gap

The Guaranteed Way To Completely Avoid Criticism

The Two Things People Judge About You Within Seconds

Prioritizing…Nashville Style

Are You Committed? Or Just…Interested?

Audible Retail Samples: Why They Suck And Why It Doesn’t Really Matter

How To Voice Copy That’s Set In Italics

Dyslexia, And The Palindromic Poem. The Wha?

Increase Your Chances Of Being Seen And Heard On Facebook

Jamie Has Some Thoughts About Fiverr

Is Simply Discouraging Distracted Driving Enough?

“Young People Are Just Smarter.”

The Real Purpose Of The “Can You Hear Me?” Phone Scam

Beware Of Overkill

Laying Down The Perfect Slate

An AMA Preview: The Word “Ethnic” – A Slur, Or An Essential Adjective?

10 Rules of Profitable Self Discipline from Napoleon Hill

AMA (Ask Me Anything): Here Are The Answers (Part 1)

AMA (Ask Me Anything): Here Are The Answers (Part 2)

AMA (Ask Me Anything): Here Are The Answers (Part 3)

AMA (Ask Me Anything): Here Are The Answers (Part 4)

AMA Answers Part 5 Plus A Medical Warning

Last AMA Answers (#6): Gear, Services and Success

A 7-Word Reminder: “Don’t correct people when it matters little.”

Do You Have A Plan? And Is It The Right One?

What’s Your Next Big Move? Are You Ready?

Build Your Future On Your Own Platform, Not Someone Else’s

I’m Leaving Facebook: Why Groups and FB Live No Longer Spark Joy

Time To Accept That I’ve Failed At Something – Happily

Crowdfunding Without The Internet: Pulitzer And The Statue Of Liberty

The Amazing Power Of Recognition And Badging

Might We Have A Possible Cause For Alzheimer’s?

Why Podcasting And Radio Are Out Of Whack

Value Enthusiasm, But Value Persistence More

Ten Ways To Make Money With Podcasts Besides Ads

One Quick Question To Find Out How Important Something Actually Is

The Workflow For Producing These Videos (So Far) Part 1

Why Not Wade? And…Why Not You?

Audiobook Narrators: How Paymasters Work, And The One I Recommend

Why Gen Z And Millennials’ Love For Audiobooks Is Crucial

American Idol: It’s All About Story, Not Just Singing

Less Beating Yourself Up, More Talking Yourself Up

Resist Oversharing. Instead, Start A Dialogue.

Vocal Care: It’s All About What Works For You

3 Biases You Should Be Aware Of

3 More Biases You Should Also Be Aware Of

Wow. People Really Grokked Biases. Let’s Tackle Fallacies.

Three More Fallacies You Need To Watch For

What’s Your Imprint?

Fallacy Follies, Volume 3

Two Last Big Creativity-Crippling Fallacies

Fail Sooner To Succeed Sooner

A New Lead Source For Performers: Voice Assistants And Smart Speakers

A Great Way To Handle Trolls and Haters

Quantity Does Not Usually Equal Quality

Is Facebook Truly A Monopoly? No More Than Microsoft Was.

Fear Of The Unknown, Or The Day Before My Surgery

A Strange Aspect To Performing That Should Be Cause For Protest, But Isn’t

Want To Grow? Don’t Go It Alone.

How Am I Doing? I’m Gobsmacked. That’s How Am I Doing.

Why I Give My Agents 10% Of Everything

Not Just Explainer Videos, But Video That Explain Things Spectacularly

Mental Floss To The Rescue: Skills You Can Pick Up On YouTube

What’s Better Than Willpower? Grit.

Regarding Apple’s App Store: Be Careful What You Wish For, Pepper

Of COURSE You Wonder What Porter’s Five Forces Are. Who Doesn’t?

Don’t Waste Your Time: Talk Shows Aren’t Meant To Be Fair

Sooner Or Later, I’m Really Going To Tick You Off

Just Because You Can Do Something Doesn’t Mean You Should

Wait, What? Audacity Records In The Background?!

Enjoy Your First Booking. Pay Close Attention To The Next Three.

Pattern Interruption And The Musicality Of Voice Over

Do You Still Have A Landline? Is It POTS? Wait, What’s POTS?

Increase Your VO Accuracy, And You’ll Increase Your VO Profits

Age Range Isn’t Really A Valid Metric For VO

What Is The Overton Window?

How To Stop Jealousy From Killing Your Progress

Even The Bible (And Game Of Thrones) Has One-Star Reviews

How Much Is Enough To Make Per Hour?

With Royalty Share Plus, ACX Makes Hybrid Stipends Official

Wait, Vices Can Be Good For Your Health?

What A Lovely Thing To Discover: Praise From CourVO

I Figured Out What I Provide: The Onboarding Performers Don’t Get

You Don’t Need Permission To Care Or Contribute

It’s Not Just You. It’s The Superstars, Too.

Do You Sometimes Think Irrationally? Maybe. Here’s How To Stop It.

The Struggle Of Announcer-y Versus Non-Announcer-y Voice Over

How My VAs Support Me And My Team

What Exactly Is “The Cloud?”

The Often “Most Difficult” Concept I Teach

Please Unsubscribe From This List. But Don’t Do This One Destructive, Lazy Thing.

Don’t Mistake The Joy Of Knowing For The Joy Of Doing

Why Giving Yourself Some Simple Homework Can Be Life-Changing

One Weird Trick I Do That Makes My Note-Taking Superhuman

The Worst Thing About The Biggest Money-Making Entertainment Category

What Can We Grab From A Schedule This Strict?

Get Better At Executing Today’s Plan By Starting Last Night

How To Create Useful, Organized Audition File Names

Where To Find Related PDFs For Audiobooks on Audible

I’m Halfway Finished. What Have You Valued Most? What Can I Do Better?

Our Digital Attention Span Is Incredibly Brief

“Serves You Right!” She Actually Has No Idea How Right.

Create A Safe Environment For Self-Improvement

Why I Use One Single Channel For Crucial Communication

The Even Cheaper AT-2020 USB Plus Microphone?

Fred Willard (and Billy West) On Quickly Creating Authentic VO Characters

Leo Makes Your Searching Spectacular

On Asking For Things Performers Can’t Do

How To Battle The Urge of “Efficiency”

One More Best-Of-Breed Way To Brilliantly Complain

Changing Audacity’s Sampling Rate To 48,000 Hz

10 Words Of Encouragement When You’re Stuck

Seek/Give Mentorship That’s Appropriate To The Journey

Two Cases Where You Might Not Want To Simply “Follow Your Passion”

Having Fun With Headphone Volume

Please Stop Rushing To Perform

Something To Consider: Everyone’s Internal Menu

One Crazy Key To Creativity: Pure, Unadulterated Boredom

For The Sheer Joy Of It

The Most Commonly Consumed Media Is…!

What’s Dangerous For Us To Care About

Please, Clever Copywriters…Stop Using This Term

Wait, Wait…What? They Actually Listened?!

Why You Should Take The Same Classes Twice

How Your Character’s Menu Informs Your Performance Choices

What Shouldn’t Be Your Metric For VO Success

Someone Awesome Who’s Also Rising To A 365-Day Challenge

Union Or Not, Start With Union Rates

O. M. G. Look What Matt Zurbo Did!

So Where Will That Huge Facebook Fine End Up?

The Root Words of “Typecast”

Avoid That One Obvious “That Worked” Sound We Make

Why Union Members Can Audition For Non-Union Work

200 Auditions. 1 Booking. A Ghost. Really?

I Can’t Do One Thing I’m Asked To Do Every Single Day

One Of Your Secret Weapons: Agility

Do Networking Events Make You Anxious? Let’s Fix That.

Project X Is Just About Ready. I’m A Bit Giddy.

The Difference Between Mansplaining and Advice?

Too Late, Melissa. You Already Are.

Help Me Solve A Lovely Mystery!

Speeding Up The Playback On The Audible App

Why Those Other Casting Sites Usually Aren’t Worth It

Raw YouTube Captioning

hey there it’s David H Lawrence the 17th
and in a couple of days I’m going to be
doing my 100th episode crazy that this
has worked out as well as it has this is
episode number 98 and in the hundredth
episode I’m going to be doing an AMA
kind of I mean it’s gonna be gathering a
whole bunch of questions that people
have asked me I said look you can ask me
anything and I’ll answer them and right
now it looks like it may extend into
another episode or two but and by the
way if you still want to ask me
questions you can still send them to me
send them to david lawrence at
and just put in the subject line
ama question and that way I’ll know
that’s what you are trying to do so
questions are coming in from all kinds
of things radio and podcasting and
voiceover and on-camera stuff and
equipment and you know how am i doing
with my medical stuff and all that sort
of thing so it’s gonna be great but one
of them that came in was just a little
too juicy to wait on because it was
something that caught my attention just
like that I got a comment from a fellow
voice-over artist named Kendra who
wanted to know about the use of my word
of the my use of the word ethnic and
here’s what she said she said in
listening to number eighty-eight video
number eighty-eight you mentioned AM
radio and ethnic music yeah number
eighty-eight was about not worrying
about you know pristine audio file
quality but actual content and an
example was we don’t complain about the
poor quality of AM radio because we’re
listening for the words were listening
for the content we’re listening for the
news or the traffic or the sports or the
ethnic music or the ethnic programming
and she says that word was a little
jarring because I know how careful and
respectful you have always been to the
wide range of people in the world it’s
one of the reasons I enjoy listening
wondering if you later wished you’d said
multicultural and I I want to preface my
answer with
I am in no way shape or form looking to
offend anybody and Kendra I hope that
you listen to this with an open mind no
I didn’t think that I regretted it or
that I had I wish that I had said
multicultural because that’s not what I
and before I put this answer together I
actually went to the dictionary to look
it up to make sure that it still meant
what it used to mean when I grew up in
Cleveland Heights next to Little Italy
and just south of Koreatown and by
little Armenia all ethnic enclaves and
it is the same and here’s the thing
ethnic formats is the actual industry
term for single culture single language
radio stations that usually are on the
am band sometimes they’re on the FM band
sometimes they’re pirate radio stations
but the word ethnic doesn’t mean a slur
it doesn’t mean as an adjective it
doesn’t mean a slur it doesn’t mean
something negative it means and this is
a quote from the dictionary relating to
a population subgroup within a larger or
dominant national or cultural group with
a common national or cultural tradition
and I don’t see anything offensive in
that but I do know that some activists
have decided on their own and declared
and written articles about the fact the
word ethnic is some sort of dog whistle
that means black and Hispanic and I
would argue that ethnic has nothing to
do with black or Hispanic I would think
the word urban would be a dog whistle
for that
and that too by the way is what radio
formats are called when they’re black or
Hispanic they’re called urban and by the
way it wouldn’t have been multicultural
because all of these radio stations that
I’m familiar with Korean radio stations
and you know Jewish radio stations and
Armenian radio stations and Spanish
radio stations they’re not multicultural
their single cultural so it just doesn’t
quite work for me so now there’s an
exception here and if you call somebody
hey what are you an ethnic I get that
that’s an insult it’s like you’re not
like us you’re something less than us
you’re just an ethnic that’s different
from saying ethnic subdivision or ethnic
radio station even the phrase ethnic
cleansing is important to remember that
that means a subset of the culture it
doesn’t mean black cleansing it doesn’t
mean Hispanic cleansing even though he’s
always Saldana would like us to think
that calling somebody an ethnic is
something that I would never do its
first of all it’s lazy it’s not very
specific if I wanted to insult somebody
I’d be a little bit more a little bit
more on the point on it yeah but it’s a
noun not the adjective that I used in
the thing and the follow-up question
that Kendra had when she had that
comment was what is your favorite way to
shake it off when you feel that you’ve
made a mistake particularly a mistake in
a live session or on set whoa I worked
in radio for 35 years I made my share of
live on the air big market mistakes and
I learned very early on that there is
you know you have to apologize you you
have to because it’s right and it’s
appropriate and it has to be a real
apology too
it can’t be you know if I’ve offended
anybody I’m really sorry
that’s not an apology that’s an if then
that’s a testing statement an apology is
I’m really sorry for what I said period
that’s it not if I offended anybody or
if anybody you know took it the wrong
way or that’s not a not a true apology I
did a live talk show in Washington DC
for a while and in the middle of a call
cancer somebody used the word
metastasizing and i heard in my
headphones metabolizing now the two
words are very different when it comes
to cancer and i unfortunately in terms
of metabolizing i thought what he said
was the cancer metabolized it went away
and i said wow that’s great and then i
moved on
and the calls were deafening and I
apologized and I didn’t say if I
offended anybody III
I get it and I consider myself to be
very aware of cultural offenses I’m the
first person to let people know if they
don’t know it already
not to say wow I feel so gypped when you
are mistreated by somebody because
jipped is a true slur that most people
don’t know they don’t know that it’s
short for gypsy which is the n-word –
Romanians and two other Eastern
Europeans and so that’s what I do
but first what I do is I really examine
and determine if I think I actually made
a mistake or not just because somebody
says you made a mistake doesn’t mean you
actually did and yes if somebody chooses
to be offended by something there’s not
much I can do about that if I made a
mistake and that caused that then I’m
right there I don’t find myself wanting
to jump a certain height when some
individual decides that a word is no
longer something that they find you know
acceptable if a group finds a word
unacceptable then I find fine but I it’s
hard for me to keep a notebook of all
the different offenses that people could
take on something and that whole idea of
did I make a mistake or not is important
because again in this series of videos I
talked about the fact that the word in
one of them one of the recent ones I
said the word bimonthly meet can mean
two different things it can mean either
once every two months or twice a month
and I was told in a comment in no
uncertain terms that I was mistaken so
again I had to return to the dictionary
and make sure that I was not mistaken
and I wasn’t the commenter insisted that
what I meant was semi-monthly and
bimonthly meant to every two months only
but the truth is it is a word and I also
checked with my friend grammar girl
manual and fogarty on this so I always
check to make sure so that I can add it
to my collection of things never to do
again if I’ve actually made a mistake
and in this case when it comes to the
word ethnic I am afraid I choose
I didn’t make a mistake so again I’m not
meaning to question your judgment I’m
sure that you made the comment based on
things that you’ve read about people
wanting that word to be excised from
people’s language because they find it
offensive but because it’s being used to
describe things like ethnic cleansing
like ethnic formats like ethnic radio
stations like ethnicities that aren’t
insulting I guess that’s why I used it
so I hope that answers your question and
again I hope I haven’t offended you by
the way I answered your question
I really do one of the things that I’ve
noticed about these videos is that in a
sea of divisive crap in terms of
politics in terms of religion in terms
of socio-economic groups in terms of
parts of the country somehow this set of
videos has become like an island of
respect and open-mindedness and I love
you guys for that I love that you’ve
decided that that’s what you’re gonna do
instead of screaming at me or or
expecting me to scream back or whatever
I just I really treasure that about this
and I hope that that’s how days video
was taken because that’s the way I
intended it if you’d like to ask me a
question for the AMA thing we still have
a couple days left so go ahead and pop
them in there as quickly as you can
I probably won’t do the the Q&A for
episode 100 until the exact moment that
I’m about to release it just so that I
can gather everything and again send it
to david lawrence at and put
in the subject line a.m. a question
that’ll be great if you’d like to sign
up for my youtube channel to see when
these videos are going to be released go
ahead and click on my head there if
there’s no head there’s a subscribe
button somewhere below this video if you
want to see the latest episode go ahead
and click on that frame there and
YouTube will play it for you I’m David H
Lawrence the 17th I’m an ethnic myself I
will talk to you tomorrow.

7 Responses to An AMA Preview: The Word “Ethnic” – A Slur, Or An Essential Adjective?

  1. Stuart Gauffi April 8, 2019 at 6:42 am #

    Cleveland Heights! Our street there, in the late ’60s, had more ethnicities than I can remember. Funny thing is, I didn’t realize it until I was an adult and could understand the concept of heritage. As far as I knew, we were just neighbors, and some of us had really interesting names. I doubt any of the Gherkins, Shahanians, Thompsons, or Nakamuras (or others whose names escape me) would remember the little kid that charged a nickel to deliver the local free paper from the drugstore to their doorstep, but I remember that street well.

    Thanks for the reminder, David.

  2. Kirsten April 8, 2019 at 10:13 am #

    Hi David, the tone you set, your heart for sharing & learning, I believe, are some of the major reasons that this has become what you call “an island of respect”. :)

  3. Kila April 8, 2019 at 10:28 am #

    In the spirit of open discussion, I have to point out that though a word has a specific dictionary definition, its connotation changes over time – so it is with the word “ethnic.” It’s one of many words that causes a blip in time for many PoC, myself included. You stop for a split sec, then keep going because there are many other battles to be fought but even so, I can’t ignore that when I hear about ethnic music, see the ethnic aisles in a market, it feels like me and mine are being labeled as ‘other’.

    I dont feel that way when people are speaking of global events but if its anything to do with the US, that word elicits a reaction. Not as strongly as the word “thug” but its definitely on the same level as “exotic” because the implication is that the culture being described belongs somewhere other than here.

    Can any one person catalog all the verbiage that causes a demographic to clench? Am I suggesting that you should go back and change the word? No, but we all can attempt to be aware, and like you say, respectful. And I do mean ALL of us. As a Black American woman, I cant fully comprehend the breadth generational struggles of a Native American man but what I can do is see where there are points of empathy, and try to remain open to hearing where we both could do better.

    My words arent intended to chide but to continue a discussion. I appreciate you, David!

  4. Patricia Napolitano April 9, 2019 at 8:06 pm #

    Dear Kila,

    EVERYONE has ethnicity. Russians, Swedes, Chinese, Mexicans, Blacks, Whites, etc.

    David is correct in pointing out that “multicultural” means including many cultures, and “multiculturalism” means a philosophy that all cultures are good. “Ethnic” means pertaining to one culture, whatever that may be. Black music is ethnic music, so is Irish music, so is Greek zither music, and any other music usually associated with one nationality or sub group. Kung pau chicken is ethnic food, so are burritos, so is sushi, and corn grits, and, I think, so are fish and chips and pizza. That does not mean or imply that they are bad music or food, or lesser music or food then “our” music or food, what ever that may be. They may even be better. Same for dress, and dance, and architectural style, etc.

    Also,I have never thought of “exotic” as insulting, and I certainly do not understand your equating “ethnic” with “thug”! What?

    As an Italian-American Catholic, I am merely annoyed if I’m called a wop or a fish eater. But I am really upset by slams against women, as that can actually hurt not just my feelings but my life. I think I can understand that Blacks are, and should be, more sensitive to “sticks and stones” of racial slurs. But if we all go looking for insults there will soon be no words left in the English language. For example. I read somewhere on the internet, that in other countries, not the US, people are objecting to being called “native”. Think of the old movies in which the “natives” are restless.

    Any ethnic group SHOULD certainly object to slurs and insulting names and stereotypes. However “ethnic” is not one of them.

  5. Tobi Czumak April 9, 2019 at 8:58 pm #

    You said it all perfectly — YOU NAILED IT in this video!

  6. Kila April 10, 2019 at 1:03 pm #

    Patricia –

    As I pointed out in my earlier response, connotation and context are important. I was advocating for understanding but that seems to have been missed.

    This exchange looks like it’ll go far afield from David’s post so I’ll end with this:
    No one needs to “go looking” for insults when they’ve been a part of your experience and the experience of the generations that came before. I explained my experience with those words. Yours is different, well and good, but discounting mine is condescendingly presumptuous.

  7. Nikki Bryce May 2, 2019 at 1:29 pm #

    I heard “ethnic” as well, and turned it into “world” music – for myself.
    Did I look into it more? No. But you did and do. And I thank you for that, as that is more evidence of why I appreciate you. I learn.
    My family used the term “gypped” – and I don’t even know how to spell it – and I didn’t know it was/is a slur. So, one more thing I will never use in future.
    So, thank you for the lesson, for creating and holding the space for respectful, open and engaging communication.

Leave a Reply