Is it alright to refer to someone as being black?

Lady - posted on 04/08/2010 ( 54 moms have responded )

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Someones colour has never been an issue with me, I don't care if they are white, black, red, yellow, pink or brown, it makes no difference as far as I'm concerned we're all just people with the same feeling and emotions and sensitivities. So the last thing I would ever want to do is offend anyone by calling them by something they found offensive.

My husband sometimes goes on a football (soccer) forum where this topic has come up because one of the player of the team he follows is dating a girl of African origin. The posts were all very positive - saying she was a very stuning girl - but someone called her coloured and was told this was unacceptable. Others said black was unacceptable too and now I feel totally confused - I know I'm white and I don't have a problem with that although I don't particularly like getting called a Jock or Scotch because I come from Scotland - what is offensive and what is PC these days?

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Tah - posted on 04/17/2010

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well well....lets see what the actual black woman has to say about it all...lol...now i have skimmed the post, so i will reply in general. Colored and negro is not alright with the majority of us. i say majority because so older black persons are ok with it because that is how they were referred to all their lives, which is why it was on the census, if i had a 85 year old grandmother, she may have chosen that option because when she was raised their would have been signs all over telliing her where the "colored could eat, drink, use the bathroom and etc"..could you imagine living through that, i can't and i am black and run into racism all the time. More than anyone would care to know or admit. example:....My friend is also a nurse and was at work, well she went in to give medications and start an iv on a elderly black women. She said i'm TIsh, your nurse for the day and i need to....and began to explain..the woman began screaming at her that she was not her nurse because she was colored and therefore her parents didn't have the money to send her to school to be no nurse and she could not give her medications or do anything else for her. I don't think some white people( i hope i'm being pc if not, i apologize) and even some black people really realize the effect that racism and segregation etc has had on this country, black people esp. Now usually we would have had a white nurse go in to appease her but we were all black that day, lol....Our DON is black, Administrator, Charge Nurses, and Unit managers, so she literally had to go without her medications until we called a white nurse in to help her for us because she had an infection and really needed her IV meds...and the kicker, we have had that reaction by white patients, young and old.



I don't know of anyone that will tolerate being called colored or negro in this day and age because it is sign of those times and we like to THINK that as a country we have come so far and moved so far past this. In many ways we have. In many ways we have not.I don't know of any of my relatives that are african..i do know that my grandmother on my father's side was half sioux. Just hearing someone say that takes you back to being on the back of the bus. I don't take offense to African American, but I know for sure i am black...lol..



Now Chris Rock..he is funny..i think..and yes he can be offensive to some people. I know people don't agree with the N word...but let me tell you something from where we sit and how a lot of us feel and alot of you won't like it, but it's the truth and i am officialy cutting back on sugar so there is not enough to sugar coat this.lol..the N word N!&&@R was different to us than N!$$A....the later was something that alot of us felt was ours. we could use it and understand relate and know that nothing was meant by it. Not so much with white people. With som much of how were known and recognized coming from white people, we just wanted something that we could use and understand between us and know that it was just for us..when white people found out that they couldn't use the word and it be okay with us then it became a problem. It was almost like, Wait, we can't call you, colored, negro, n!@@er, coon or n!@@a...o no...unacceptable. so how can we make a big enough deal over it so that you can't call yourselves anything that we can't call you. You will never get rid of that word fully, it doesn't matter is jesse and al call themselves having a funeral for it.



So Chris Rocks bit on white people and black people are kinda a challenge to that. and some people get it, some people don't...Cracker and honky may be offensive to some white people, but that also was kinda something that the black community adapted as a way to thumb our noses at those who were treating us so unfairly, Now we were called, N word and colored and negro and coons all the time and it was accepted, i mean we were referred to as these names on t.v by the media and in everyday life. Being honest, how many of you have actually been called cracker or honky when you walk into a store to shop and asked to leave..esp back in those days..if Emmit Till was killed for whistling at a white woman, imagine if he ahd called her husband a cracker..unheard of..i have, however, been followed in store, told they don't want my kind in here, looked at with disdain, called a N word..with the ER of course, so even though it may be offensive. I don't think it is really any comparison as far as the frequency or the effect it has had on your culture.



Now people from islands do like to be seperated from being "black" as a generalization, because there are differences in culture. Food, beliefs, family structure sometimes, so that is why a haitian or jamacian etc.want to be known as such. I can understand that. I would feel the same way. There are differences. We may all be different colors but when being "colored" has been used as a derogatory then you don't want to be known as that....so black is ok with me and though i am not AA if you don't know how to refer to me, i would react to it alot better than Negro, colored or N!@@ER...

Charlie - posted on 04/11/2010

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I dont think there is anything wrong with being called black or white as a description although calling all Asians , Chinese is a little ignorant and as for calling all middle eastern "Pakis" , you do know that's a racially offensive term right ? Just ask prince Harry who just got into a lot of trouble for using that exact term !

You dont have to go into an in depth investigation of a persons background but C'mon have a bit of decency to try to not come off as offensive because you just cant be bothered educating yourself on the wide and beautiful variety of nationalities .

There's being overly PC and then there's being rude , find the middle ground .

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I think the term coloured is unacceptable, but I don't think the people who use it are being malicious, I think they are just unsure of the correct term to use. I'll aways politely correct people who refer to a person as coloured without making a big deal out of it.

I used to live in Birmingham, England where there is a large population of Afro/Caribbean people and the term "black" tends to be the preferred term to describe their ethnic group there. Referring to people as "black" in the US where I now live is less acceptable. They prefer to be referred to as African American. I always try to adopt the preferred term to describe a persons race in a particular area because it's the respectful thing to do.

I'll definitely research this if I ever move to another area because I want all people to feel comfortable in my company. Once an African American said that it was OK for me to call him the N word, but I never did. Just because he was OK with, doesn't mean that everyone overhearing me would be OK with it. I also don''t like hearing people refer to some Asians as the P word because they hate being called that.

Johnny - posted on 04/09/2010

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I think this is rather hard to know. Most people I know refer to themselves and prefer to have themselves referred to as black. Colored is still seen as an old-fashioned term that was too frequently used by people to specifically denigrate and segregate. Although it is better than the term Negro which my Grandmother uses (argh!). And not many black people in Canada refer to themselves as African Canadians, unless they happen to be recent immigrants from Africa, which is the case for most black people in my neighborhood. But then, they usually just call themselves Ghanians or Nigerians, etc. My ex is half African, his father was Malawian, and he called himself black. He always said that it's just a "not very accurate color description. He was lighter skinned, so more brown or beige. And as he pointed out, it's not like most white people are actually white. I suspect that every single person has their own sensitivities on this issue. It's funny to me to see Mexicans where some people live call themselves brown. Here Brown people are Indian or Bangladeshi or Pakistani or Sri Lankan. Some also call themselves South Asians. But never say "Punjabi", apparently they can only call themselves that? And my Mexican, Central, & South American friends here call themselves Latinos. Never Brown people. This will only get more confusing as more people have mixed marriages. Hopefully people will just give up on these definitions altogether at some point.

Belinda - posted on 04/08/2010

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Never known anyone to be offended by "black". We lived in South Georgia and most people of color called themselves black...in fact there are different shades of black. Some people say "brown" or "dark-skinned". We never really referred to anyone by their skin color so it wasn't an issue. Buuut..."colored" is offensive to most people, black or white. It sounds very crude and is close to the "N" word IMHO.

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Amanda - posted on 04/19/2010

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well now i feel a little better that im not the only one that's used the phrase in the past twenty years lol

Rosie - posted on 04/19/2010

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i think it's weird how different regions do things differently. i'm from iowa and i dated a mixed man for a while and he called himself mulatto. every mixed person i've seen has been referred to as mulatto. interesting how things are so radically different from one region to another.

Suzette - posted on 04/19/2010

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Tah, I was wondering where I'd heard that term before!! I was reading a book by Anne Rice about witches and it came back from the 1800s to present day. Called the Lives of the Mayfair Witches...that was it. And they said something about one of them being Mulatto, if I remember correctly, I couldn't remember where I'd heard it until you brought up the children of white men and all that. My memory sucks!

Tah - posted on 04/19/2010

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you dont have to apologize..it's what the children of white men(usually slave owners) with their black slaves were called and any other children born between blacks and whites...you were black or negro or colored or mulatto..they were usually ones they called House N!&&ers because they had lighter skin and better hair so they..in alot of cases were treated better..worked in the house etc...then the dark-skinned negro and if you were light enough to pass for white then you were really doing good...some escaped slavery that way...i have seen it in books and reports and on the history channel..but i have never actually heard someone say it..lol...

Amanda - posted on 04/19/2010

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tah... i didnt realize, or know, if mulatto was a bad thing or not.. that's what her mom called her... so it was what i've always thought of when i hear mixes, i have noticed that most people just say mixed, but i never thought to ask why they dont say mulatto or something else... if it was disrespectul i apologize, i never knew it was used in any bad ways or anything.

Tah - posted on 04/19/2010

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im just responding to this so it can move back to the first page because i invited someone over to read it......

Suzette - posted on 04/18/2010

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@Tah... not trying to stir the pot... =P haha! I guess the people that I'm friends with who are black, I never refer to them by skin color when I'm talking about them and what my husband and I have done with so and so, it's always by name. No one ever asks about their skin color, so it just never comes up. I guess I've never found myself in a situation to refer to my black friends, my hispanic friends, my white friends, etc. etc. lol. The only situation I've been in recently, where that would've been an issue, was when I couldn't remember (pregnancy brain) one of the Sgt's names that my husband works with and I wanted to ask him how her family was doing. But I know she's not black, she's from Haiti. And I couldn't remember, for the life of me, the Island they were from... and I didn't want to call her black!! Yeah, pregnancy brain is kicking my butt. LOL!

Tah - posted on 04/18/2010

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@Suzette..i can find you all over COM stirring the pot can't I....lol..I don't think it's impolote to ask..Most people would be happy to tell you what they consider themselves..A simple, you know what i wanted to ask you, and don't be offended, Do you consider yourself A or B.....the truth is we, kinds know that people don't know, so when we are asked..we aren't really that surprised...lol....

Tah - posted on 04/18/2010

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thats what they were called..back when we were also negros and the such...wow...i havent heard that on so long....now they just say mixed and then the person decides who they identify with....now there is something in some states that say you are what your father is..so if the father is black..then thats how you would be called..i forget what its called but it'll prob be on my online test today..lol...we covered it in class a couple weeks ago. mulatto...wow.....havent heard that in...don't know if i ever have and i know many mixed persons.....

Amanda - posted on 04/17/2010

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Leatonya... isn't a half white half black person called malatto(i donno if thats the correct spelling or not)? That's what we called my cousin, and she's italian and black.

Suzette - posted on 04/17/2010

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I know about all the different slang terms, the history, etc. My father's family is Mexican-American, the elders are actually from Mexico and are legal citizens of American. (Though if you call them Mexican-American, they'll get highly livid and say that they're Americans in every aspect.) I was taught all about racism, from their stand point, how they endured it when they were living in Arizona raising their children, etc. And endured some of it because I'm whiter than white - kinda looking like casper walking around calling a Mexican man "daddy" at the age of seven years old... yeah, we got derogatory looks, lots of foul remarks, etc. and even now people say things to us about our father/daughter relationship when they over hear us talking. It's ridiculous.

The only problem I have with differentiating what a black person would like to be referred to as is whether it is African American or Black, and that's because of what I already stated in my post which is their descent. So should we just ask, or is that impolite?

I once worked with someone who was from Nigeria and I did ask him where he was from, a very polite man too. (I asked because of his accent, I have this thing with accents if I can't place them.. lol) We got into a long discussion about what he did in his country and how he's going to college to do the same thing here in order to bring his family here.

Lady - posted on 04/17/2010

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Thanks Tah Dula for trying to give us an answer to something we all seem to be struggling with. I agree it's the derogatory history which is associated with most words that makes them so unexceptable and something which I think people should be aware of. I can't imagine living in a time where I was told I couldn't go somewhere or drink out a certain water fountain because of the colour of my skin, it still seems so unbelievable that time was not really all that long ago!

C. - posted on 04/17/2010

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I have to disagree with those who say that Indians are only from India. By definition, Indian refers to both people from India and American Indians and their native tongue. I call Native Americans "Indian" and I call people from India "East Indian". That's how I was brought up.. And with a Great Grandmother who was part Indian (Nat. American- Cherokee, I believe).. If it didn't offend her or her family to be called "Indian", I don't see a problem with it.



Here's the link for the definition, for those who are interested.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionar...

Suzette - posted on 04/16/2010

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On a side note, I have an ex boyfriend who is originally from South Korea, he was adopted when he was 2 yrs old and brought here by a Caucasian family. If you dare to refer to him as Korean, he'll go off on this rant about how he's American, he's not Korean. He refuses to accept anything else. As far as he's concerned, he's American PERIOD. And he'll flat out say he considers himself more of a redneck american than anything else. So how do you know when you're really offending someone?

Suzette - posted on 04/16/2010

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@Shannon,

"I agree that Native Americans are NOT Indian. Indians are from India..."

That actually brings up something I've always wondered about. The Native American's in Arizona refer to themselves as Indians. I have no idea why, they just do. I know they're not Indians, even they do, but I think it's so engrained into them as others call them that, that's just how they refer to themselves.



I've never met someone who was black, african-american, whatever it is that is politically correct now (sorry I don't know anymore either!) as being offended with being called black. Honestly, as I said already, I don't know what is politically correct now. You can't say african american to some people because they KNOW they're not of african descent and they'll get offended, some will flat out tell you that they're "American" not "African American" others will say, "No I'm European-American, I'm European descent". So I've become lost.

Leatonya - posted on 04/13/2010

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Great topic but i am a mother of a bi-racail child and im still not sure! lol i say my son is mixed or brown.

Charlie - posted on 04/12/2010

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But he is of Haitian descent Jamie ? that would make him Haitian , otherwise we would be calling everyone either Oriental , Caucasian , Hispanic and all the other race descriptions , instead people usually define themselves first by their heritage or birth place , such as saying i am Australian or they are American its a very valid and important part of a person too to express their origin and not necessarily race .

Jaime - posted on 04/12/2010

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I think everyone is different...My BF is Haitian, he doesn't get offended but he does not like to be called black or African American he say's "I'm Haitian" to correct people. I think it's kinds silly cuz Haitian isn't a race but that's him. I say people are white, black, yellow and brown. We have 2 children together and I would prefer they were referred to as brown cuz they aren't white and they aren't black. As a side note, even though I'm white, i was personally offended at the term "negro" on the 2010 census but don't mind be called a cracker. I'd shy away from any term that could be hurtful like colored or negro and the others we all know.

Lady - posted on 04/12/2010

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Jess I just find Chris Roch really offensive no matter what he refers to black people using the N word a lot too - which I think is just totally unaceptable. Some words just really shouldn't be used by any colour person because they are derodatory. Just because you are black doesn't mean you can use the N word.

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As far as I know in the UK people of African origin should be referred to as being black not coloured. And also to call people of two races mixed race not half cast. I'm from near Newcastle so I get called a Geordie and to be honest that doesn't bother me but what does bother me is when people call me a Mackem because I live in Sunderland when I was born in South Shields not Sunderland!!!

Emma - posted on 04/11/2010

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In South Africa with our 11 national languages and numerous tribes you have to be a little careful as if you call a Zulu A Xhosa they don't like it at all the Afrikaners don't like being called English ether, But as we are so newly free of the old SA i think everyone is making sure no one forgets there group.

Jess - posted on 04/11/2010

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I think its PC gone mad ! Its a descriptive term. If a child was abducted you rule 50% of the population by saying they are either white or black ! What really makes me angry is when comedians like Chris Rock get on stage and spend 60 minutes trashing white people, I was mortified when I heard him calling white people Crackers.... seriously if I showed that much disrepect to the black community I would get my ass kicked and rightly so. It would make head line news and yet he gets paid to be so racist !

LaCi - posted on 04/10/2010

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One of the things I was asked frequently is if I was Indian and I never knew which they meant exactly. I am near the south and no one is really PC. So I would just nod and smile.

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I've lived around black people a lot, I've dated black guys a lot & never once were they offended because I called them "black". They were totally ok with being called black, they even called themselves black.

Johnny - posted on 04/10/2010

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LMAO, Christina, I know what she was trying to say. I was being sarcastic. Sorry if it doesn't translate.

Charlene - posted on 04/10/2010

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I never really need to refer to someone by their skin colour, but I have always wondered this too. When I was younger I was always scared that people would think I was racist just because I was white, so I was always really careful about what I said. Probably an irrational fear, but a fear I had none the less.

Amanda - posted on 04/10/2010

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yeah i dont think japanese or korean people would be happy being called chinese... esp. on purpose lol... and "paki"s ... thats just bad... just say middle eastern if u can't tell what they are... i think thats more appropriate and closer to being accurate more than likely.. even"paki" people... they're generally pakistanians, not paki's... lolll lordy



that could be as dangerous as calling puerto ricans mexican/vice versa lol

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My husband is Native American and he gets annoyed when they are referred to as Indians. He's like "Indians come from India" but he also doesn't take it into offense unless the person is saying it in a certain way. Kinda like not what you say but how you say it. I just avoid the subject of race or ask them directly so I don't offend them.

C. - posted on 04/10/2010

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Carol, I think the point Lyndsay was trying to make was that she generalizes by nationality or color, not necessarily just color.. Not saying it's something I agree with, just saying I THINK that's what she meant.

Minna - posted on 04/09/2010

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Yeah, wow Lyndsay... I'm going to have to say that I can agree with most of what most people said on here about it not seeming like a big deal to call black people black and white people white, and I can't really say anything about the middle east, but I know for a fact that Asians HATE being mislabeled. There has been a lot of warring and cross racial drama in Asia that leads them to take SERIOUS offense to being called by the wrong race. You're actually better off saying "oriental" or "Asian," even though oriental may sound inappropriate. At least I thought so until I studied the culture.

Johnny - posted on 04/09/2010

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Um, Lyndsay. I hate to point this out but Chinese and "paki" aren't colors, as far as I am aware. And most people believe that Pakistan is in Asia, not so much the Middle East. Perhaps you could start calling Asians "yellow" and see what happens.

Amanda - posted on 04/09/2010

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And yeah, I've been made fun of for being pale before too, lol... my mexican friend used to call me casper cuz I was REALLY pale one year hah... doesn't bother me though... I dont mind the fact that I'm white... it's just how I am lol

Amanda - posted on 04/09/2010

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Yeah, I've heard of all the nationality slurs, a lot of them anyways, I just didn't know there were any that were deragatory towards white people in general...

Emma - posted on 04/09/2010

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Im sure there are Some hear for us whites but i could not think of one,
Sadly i can think of lots for other races.
O i got called milk bottle once but i took it as funny as the guy who said it was really dark and im really pale

LaCi - posted on 04/09/2010

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Since white tends to be a very broad category it can depend on your background country.

Gringo and haole can be used with intent to offend, although they tend to just be descriptive. Wops and guidos for Italians in the US although I'm hearing guido like it's no big deal anymore. Used to be a lot of Irish slurs, until they gained control of the population. I'm sure in other countries there are MANY slurs for white people, as we invade their space and control their governments. I'm not up to date on derogatory words so thats All I've got for ya.

C. - posted on 04/09/2010

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Amanda, with all due respect, they are words that I rather not repeat. They are words that I have heard being shouted across school when people were trying to start a fight when I was a little younger.. I just rather not say them b/c I find them offensive and others might as well.

Emma - posted on 04/09/2010

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But nationality and race are very different, i mean im white but am South African i was born hear im a proud South Africa, as there are many others who are 10th + generation white South Africans and many Black British people that are proud to be British ect ect

Lady - posted on 04/09/2010

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I agree it would be great if we were all just people instead of white people or black people or whatever, But Colour is quite often linked to race and people do have racial pride - I'm very proud to be Scottish even though I don't live there and probably never will again. It's just colour is also linked to segragation and discrimination - these are the things I think we need to get rid of.

Johnny - posted on 04/09/2010

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Or if you're filling out the Census.

On the last Canada census the race question was a mind boggler. The options were: Caucasian, Chinese, Japanese, Other Asian, Black, South Asian, Jewish, and Other. So they used one formal racial term, two nationalities, a couple informal racial terms, a cultural group term and 2 different kinds of "other". Who comes up with these things? And which were you supposed to check if you happened to be an African or Chinese Jew? Makes you wonder if they should perhaps just stop asking the question.

Emma - posted on 04/09/2010

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I think there is really no need to point out the skin colour of someone unless you are making a police report.
As it has nothing to do with what type of person they are.
I hate it when just because im white im considered to be a racist strangely that assumption happened more when i lived in the UK and people found out Im South African than it dose hear in SA ....lol

Lady - posted on 04/08/2010

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I'm the same as you Amanda, I don't generally refer to someone by what colour their skin is, which is probably why I do't know the answer to this question. I don't want my kids to ever look at people that way. And it seems to have worked - none of them even really noticed that the new Disney princess in the "Princess and the Frog" was black and growing up when ever they have had friends either from this country or other countries with darker skin than them it's never been something they have focused on.

And I always thought that "coloured" was an offensive term to use, it's what my grandparent would say because they didn't know any better.

Amanda - posted on 04/08/2010

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christina- what offensive words do u know for white people?? the only things i've ever heard are honky and cracker... and neither of them sound very mean... just silly lol just wondering...

C. - posted on 04/08/2010

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I only skimmed the OP and the comments, so I apologize.. But for one, I HAVE met a few people that were offended by being called "black", so I can see this as a legitimate question.



I am not politically correct when it comes to things like that. For crying out loud, people of other nationalities call caucasians WHITE! So to me I just don't see what the big fuss is all about when someone refers to a black person as, well, black!



Now, I live in the South (US) and have for a while, since I was about 6. There are a few names that are just out of the question, used mainly in the South, for white and black people b/c they are derogatory names and quite frankly I don't think ANYONE should ever call someone that. But I just don't see how simply saying "white" or "black" as derogatory or offensive.



Oh, and I would refrain from saying "colored".. To me that just sounds crude. But, if you think about it.. We're all "colored" different colors :)

Amanda - posted on 04/08/2010

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A friend of mine get angry if someone refers to her as African. She says, "I have never been to Africa, I don't have any relative who has ever been there. I am not African. I am from Barbados."

Honestly, I do my best not to make refernce to colour at all. If I needed to point someone out, I would prefer to say, "the lady with the braids in the pink shirt" or whatever. Use something other than their skin colour to refer to them as. Only because with my friend that I mentioned, I was the one who called her African Canadian, and she did take offence to it.

My Auntie however, is black, and she has no problem with the term black what so ever. When we were little, she used to tell my sisters and I that we were made of white milk and she was made of chocolate milk. :) I feel so blessed to have her in my family, because from such a young age, I didn't really notice colour. I hope that my kids will be the same way, but I am nervous about that, because we live in a predominantly white town.

Amanda - posted on 04/08/2010

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I think it's okay to say black.. it's a generalization, I've never heard someone take offense or use it offensively. Just like all "white people" are white, even though they're usually scottish, irish, english, polish, hungarian, just plain mutts, etc. whatever the case may be. It's not always easy to tell whether a person is jamaican, african, indian, etc... I think people try to make an issue of everything too much sometimes... I think I would laugh if someone called me white and expected it to piss me off or hurt my feelings somehow lol...

As for my son, we're military, so we're always gonna be in multi-cultural surroundings lol so he's already used to pretty much every color under the sun and he's only 3.

LaCi - posted on 04/08/2010

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I am not a PC person. I've also never heard of a black person being offended over "black." I'm also annoyed by "african american" because I don't think its any more correct to just assume this person recognizes roots in africa. I mean, scientifically speaking its believed we ALL came from africa at one time or another. What if this persons roots are in australia? It just doesn't make sense to me. I also think its ridiculous to dwell on racial terminology. Who cares? If we all didn't care maybe there wouldn't be a problem. I can't tell you how many times people have asked me what I was, and I'm always wondering why does it freakin matter? *sigh* so much to say but I gotta make dinner ;)

Amy - posted on 04/08/2010

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I think it depends on the person you're talking to, if you know them, and how it's said. My mexican friends call themselves brown all the time, but if someone else said it, they may take offense. I think it's hard on a computer because people can't understand your tone. I had a guy come up to me and go WHOA, you're really white. I was like...um. yeah..I didn't know what to say. I responded the best i could: "I can't tan, it burns and then I peel. So this is me." My daughter saw a black person [I think it's okay to say that. my friend told me colored is general and could be applied to any skin tone/race] and she said "wow, her skin is really pretty". I sighed relief that she said that instead of "is that a black person?"

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