I just edited an answer that had the word "goyish" and replaced it with the word non Jew. I did it because I feel with deep conviction that goy and goyish are actual racist terms. I also feel some regret editing it because there isn't a policy on such words and so I stepped out of bounds by making that edit.
So I want to get the conversation started on words that have a legitimate critique of being racist, especially with racial tensions being what they are in the US right now. The question is whether terms like "goy, goyish, goyim" should be labeled as racist terms and possibly not allowed on our forum. As someone who was raised in a nonreligious Jewish family from the Middle East, I never grew up hearing the word goy, or goyim in any context. When I went to college and met other Jews this word popped up very soon and very regularly, and I immediately became uncomfortable with its usage then and to this day. My issue with this word and the possibility of it being racist was summed up nicely in this article.
“As a Jew married to a Jew by choice, I definitely see goy as a slur — seldom used as a compliment, and never used in the presence of a non-Jew,” wrote Nahma Nadich, the deputy director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston. “That’s a good litmus test: if you wouldn’t use a word in the presence of someone you’re describing, good chance it’s offensive.”
Here are some contexts I have personally heard goy used: "Sure she has a boyfriend, but he's a goy so I can ask her out." "Never trust that to a goy." "A goy just can't understand the idea of worshipping Hashem." All of these remarks were made in a group where it was assumed everyone was Jewish, and like the article points out, I can't imagine anyone make such a comment if there was a non-Jew who was part of the conversation.
The article goes on to make other points that are more specifically based in Yiddish. But it's worth discussing as well.
.... the word “goy” has too much historical and linguistic baggage to be used as casually as “non-Jew” or “gentile.” It starts with the obvious slurs – like “goyishe kopf,” or gentile brains, which suggests (generously) a dullard, or “shikker iz a goy,” a gentile is a drunkard. “Goyishe naches” describes the kinds of things that a Jew mockingly presumes only a gentile would enjoy, like hunting, sailing and eating white bread.
But even in its plain sense the word is a weapon in what the Yiddishist Michael Wex calls the “vocabulary of exclusion.” “Differences between yidish and goyish, sacred and profane, proper and improper, are built into the structure of the language,” he writes, using “yidish” to mean Jewish.
So I thought I'd open up this topic for discussion and the eventual downvotes.