About a mother-to-be using racist language about her baby?

(131 Posts)

Met a friends sister recently, and she mentioned that she was pregnant. She is white and the father of the baby is black. Several times throughout the evening she referred to her unborn baby by using a racist term.

I found this very uncomfortable but decided not to say anything about it as I didn't want to cause an argument, however my friend noticed and asked her to apologise to me - which she did but half-heatedly.

Normally I would always challenge someone using language which I consider offensive, I didn't on this occasion as if she is in a relationship with someone of a different colour then surely she cannot actually be a racist, maybe she was just making a poor decision of a joke? She is definitely still in a relationship with the father of the baby, as she was arranging to meet him later that evening.

WIBU by not challenging her choice of language?

CaptainVonTrapp Thu 03-Jan-13 20:41:33

You know you have to tell us what she said?

Euphemia Thu 03-Jan-13 20:42:39

I'm guessing half-caste?

Snusmumriken Thu 03-Jan-13 20:52:10

I don't see why the OP would have to tell us what the woman said. Suffice to say she used a racist term.

OP- I often find it difficult to confront people when they have said something racist, but I think it is a very important thing to do.

The fact that this woman is in a relationship with a person that is racialised differently does make the racist term she used acceptable.

So my long winded answer is, I think you should have challenged her.

No, not half-caste ... I find that expression uncomfortable.

The mother was referring to her baby as a 'nignog'

That felt very bad to type out.

Shelly32 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:53:11

Oh dear.. Not a very intelligent mother...

Snusmumriken Thu 03-Jan-13 20:54:00

Please let this not turn into a thread where everyone has a guess at the term that was used!

Snusmumriken Thu 03-Jan-13 20:54:39

X post

Euphemia Thu 03-Jan-13 20:54:56

It sounds like she made an ill-judged joke. To be racist, she would have to be judging someone, or preventing equality of opportunity for someone, or bullying, etc. based on the colour of the person's skin.

I assume she won't be doing any of these things to her child?!

CaptainVonTrapp Thu 03-Jan-13 20:56:01

Because what one person considers racist another may not.

I would have said something about that word though.

Shelly32 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:56:45

Or she's thick and doesn't realised this is an out dated and offensive term.

squoosh Thu 03-Jan-13 20:57:05

I wonder what the baby's Dad would make of her terminology.

Shelly32 Thu 03-Jan-13 20:57:21

realise !

Nixea Thu 03-Jan-13 20:59:24

RE: asking what the word was. I'm embarrassed to admit that before I joined mumsnet I thought that half caste was the 'correct' term to use and had no idea I was being rude. I do now, and would never dream of using it but I can understand that some people (like me) are actually just very out of touch and have no IDE the terminology has changed.

That said, I dont think the word the Woman actually used has ever been ok has it?

LouisWalshsChristmasCloset Thu 03-Jan-13 20:59:54

Depends what it was. Is it a word that some find offensive and not others or is it the one we are all.thinking of?

CloudsAndTrees Thu 03-Jan-13 21:01:07

Horrible word, but she clearly doesn't see it as offensive or racist, and her boyfriend probably doesn't either.

I don't think YWBU to say nothing, it's none of your business.

gordyslovesheep Thu 03-Jan-13 21:01:24

if it was a 'joke' it was a shit one - is she a bit thick op?

Wow! haven't heard that term since the mid 70's when one of my mothers (very ignorant) friends used to use it shock I honestly thought it had disappeared form the language! Very 'love-thy-neighbour' I would have been struck dumb to be fair.

LouisWalshsChristmasCloset Thu 03-Jan-13 21:03:10

Is she a bit dim perhaps and sees it as some strange term of endearment? Not a nice word at all she shouldnt be using it but it depends on context. Did she mean it in a nasty way? Does she resent the fact she will have a mixed race child?

Nixea Thu 03-Jan-13 21:03:23

And now I'm worried that I shouldn't have put the word in my post. So very sorry if it offends and I can report my post. Sorry again.

HollyBerryBush Thu 03-Jan-13 21:03:49

I'm guessing half-caste?

Hijack moment. See i thought that was an out dated very 60/70's term that had given way to more PC speech - i pilled my DS17 up for using it - only to be told by DS16 that it is commonly used by dual heritage children at his grammar school when talking about themselves.

HollyTheHedgehog Thu 03-Jan-13 21:04:43

You know what, I think there is a difference between being racist and being offensive.

For example I saw in the Wail today a father 'blacken up' his sons face and give him a mowy like his favorite football player. The fathers had to appologise for being racist.

But IS it racist when he likes and respects the man? Is he not rather stupid and offensive as opposed to racist?

What your friend said could be offensive, certainly to you. But racist? I dont think so.

She was laughing as she said it, her sister and her boyfriend were kind of embarrassed laughing but looking at me as I squirmed. Which is why they told her to apologise. I didn't want to cause a scene but I did want to ask her how she would feel if someone else used that kind of language towards her and her future child?

She is maybe early twenties I would guess.

I was ashamed of myself for not speaking up, but otoh I was worried about upsetting my friend, I didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable.

Dromedary Thu 03-Jan-13 21:05:42

Being in a relationship with someone from a different race doesn't mean that you can't be racist. If she's going to bring up her child well she's got a bit of learning and thinking to do.

DoubleYew Thu 03-Jan-13 21:05:42

If you don't know this woman you really don't know if she is racist or not.

In the same way that gay people have reclaimed queer etc some black people do adopt racist terminology about themselves. I think she was stupid to use this term infront of strangers but you have no idea if the father and his family also use this term about themsleves/ the baby. This woman's child will no doubt (sadly) suffer racism in its life and it may be that she is finding her way around this area.

Or she could be an arse. I don't think you can decide on one meeting.

Ugh what a horrid word. I agree with the others she sounds like a thicko. sad

Sorry, have I entered yet another parallel MN universe?

When has Nig nog ever NOT been racist, she's with a black guy, yet she's using that foul word about her unborn baby.
Yes, under the circumstances YWBU not to tell her to shut her stupid trap.

CaptainVonTrapp Thu 03-Jan-13 21:08:26

Exactly Holly and thats the problem with accusing someone of racism.

Nixea I really hope there is no one here is offended by a discussion about the use of a word. Perhaps if someone had discussed it with your friend she wouldn't have used it.

KRITIQ Thu 03-Jan-13 21:22:11

Just because someone is in a relationship with a person who is Black or from another minority ethnic group or has a mixed heritage child doesn't mean they can't be racist. In a similar vein, there are plenty of men who are sexist with very low opinions of women, despite having female partners or daughters.

It's a pretty nasty thing to say, not only about your own child, but having no idea, for example, whether or not you might have someone in your own family or close to you who is Black. Maybe she has some kind of agreement with her partner that they can refer to each other using racist terms, but like people who insist it's perfectly "normal" and fun to refer to their partners as bitches, bastards, sluts, etc., I'm not entirely convinced it's that benign. In any case, that doesn't mean one should expect everyone else to accept the terms you choose without an eyeblink.

It reminds me sadly of a former colleague who was mix heritage who grew up with racist taunts from her white mother and half brother from her mother's previous relationship. It zapped her self esteem and took her years to scrape some back (and took cutting her mother's family out completely - they never "got" what the problem was.) angry

JamieandtheMagiTorch Thu 03-Jan-13 21:25:00

She sounds not-very-bright.

I wait to be corrected, but I don't think it's a term anyone would use about themselves, although I do take the point about reclaiming language

notnagging Thu 03-Jan-13 21:27:17

You should have said something. It is clearly a racist term & if racism is not challenged people think its acceptable. I feel sorry for her unborn dc who will have issues around their identity having an ignorant mother like that.

notnagging Thu 03-Jan-13 21:28:53

Totally agree with kritiq

CloudsAndTrees Thu 03-Jan-13 21:30:20

Being in a relationship with someone from a different race doesn't mean that you can't be racist.

I agree with this. It is also very possible to be from an ethnic minority and be very racist.

I don't think the girl in the OP was being racist though, it sounds more like she was ignorant.

JamieandtheMagiTorch Thu 03-Jan-13 21:30:40



PartridgeInASpicyPearTree Thu 03-Jan-13 21:55:53

I'm a bit shocked as I have never heard this word before. It's really horrid, literally made me squirm a bit and pull a face just reading it.

I agree that being in a relationship with a black man does not mean that she is not racist. It's hard to judge not having been there but I struggle to see how this could come out in even a misguided "funny" or "nice" way. And I can see that she could really cause some distress to her child by referring to them using a racially based nickname/insult. But, on balance I think YWNBU. In an ideal world I think you should have said something, but I can see why the whole thing would have been a bit shocking and you would therefore not have done, iyskwim!

StinkyWicket Thu 03-Jan-13 22:05:13

She sounds very much like some 'hipster' types I know, who think that if you use a racist term 'ironically' (not sure they know what ironic means actually) it means you're not racist. Makes me really angry actually.

Boomerwang Thu 03-Jan-13 22:43:12

Sorry that I can't add anything helpful, but I wanted to thank people for pointing out that 'half caste' is NOT an acceptable way to describe someone's dual heritage. I had no idea and I would have really put my foot in it one day.

Damash12 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:51:24

Wow what a stupid woman, hope she doesn't think it's ok to call the baby that when he/she arrives. I imagine she is trying to be funny and out there but clearly making herself look an idiot. Now here goes, don't know if I should risk this but I didn't think/ know half caste was derogatory. I thought that was the correct terminology for child with mixed race parents. Bloody hell am I really that out of date???

Damash12 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:54:48

Ooh boomerwang Wendy have been typing at the same time, glad it's not just me. Can I dare to ask why that is wrong now. I'm sure I still see that phrase in the newspapers if describing someone.

Damash12 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:56:11

We must not Wendy - bloody phone!!

degutastic Thu 03-Jan-13 22:57:57

It makes me think of Stephen K Amos and his jokes where he refers to himself and family using the same term. It could have been a poor joke along similar lines, or even in direct reference to that, which might be in poor taste, but isn't necessarily racist.

AmberLeaf Thu 03-Jan-13 23:00:16

Yeah half caste is well out of date.,

The woman in the OP sounds like a fool.

Amazed that anyone in their 20s would even use that term!

NotOnTheBeach Thu 03-Jan-13 23:01:00

Was going to post the same as KRITIQ.

When has being married to a woman been a guarantee that a man isn't misogynistic?

No ambivalence about a phrase like nignog, really. She sounds utterly stupid.

Jins Thu 03-Jan-13 23:01:05

I can't remember exactly when half caste stopped being used but it was sometime in the 1980s

I'd not heard it or seen it written for a long time before joining MN

trapclap Thu 03-Jan-13 23:04:33

pity that child sad

it will have zero self-esteem, with a mother like that

NotOnTheBeach Thu 03-Jan-13 23:05:01

John Agard's poem 'Half Caste' was in an anthology by 2002.

I am sure I knew half caste was outdated by the early - mid 80s.

Dominodonkey Thu 03-Jan-13 23:06:41

OP - are you black/mixed race?(or is the term dual heritage now)

Is that why the other people in the group were looking at you in an apologetic manner?

LizzieVereker Thu 03-Jan-13 23:08:19

"half caste" implies that a person is somehow lesser for being "only" half a race - that somehow being mixed devalues a person - this poem explains it much better than I could:

LizzieVereker Thu 03-Jan-13 23:10:01

Sorr, NotOnThe Beach, cross posted!

Caste was a system of measuring purity. So to say half caste would imply that only half of you would be pure IYSWIM.

I only have a few friends with children of mixed ethnicity, so I don't speak from broad experience, but the terms mixed race, biracial and mixed ethnicity are used more commonly I think.

Bogeyface Thu 03-Jan-13 23:17:14

If I had used that phrase when I was pg H would not have been happy. However, he uses the word half caste to describe himself and DD (he is 3/4 jamaican and 1/4 white british). So half caste being offensive can depend, H gets pissed off with white people being offended on his behalf over something he doesnt find offensive!

Bogeyface Thu 03-Jan-13 23:18:17

Incidentally, I use the term mixed race, as dual heritage is stupid imo. We are all dual heritage unless your mum and dad were brother and sister, it doesnt really say anything.

NolittleBuddahsorTigerMomshere Thu 03-Jan-13 23:20:25

Disgusting language to use about anybody let alone her own baby! shock I would have had to say something along the lines of 'Do you not think that by using that foul term to describe DC, other people might think it is acceptable to use it when referring to DC or others?' Or 'How does DP feel about you using that word?' said casually but in a very firm tone.

Out of interest, are her family supportive of her relationship with DP? Not that it excuses her behaviour in any way, but perhaps she is trying to desensitize herself to their comments about the baby, by making the word 'acceptable by it's ubiquity' (In her household[s] only, one would hope.)

OR she is just really very stupid and unaware.

LizzieVereker Thu 03-Jan-13 23:21:06

One of my school friends is of dual heritage, her father being black and her mother white. Her Mum used to make "jokes" racist jibes about her Dad's ethnicity, his culture, the body shapes of black women etc. My friend used to try and scrub her face whiter when we were little, and later developed an eating disorder, which I'm sure was in part due to her lack of self worth and poor self image.

"Not a very intelligent mother"

Not being informed and educated isn't the same as being thick or unintelligent.

Education and helping the person using the term to understand why it is offensive, is usually the answer.

I have had to expalin to people who most definately not racist what terms should be used, they do not get training in the jobs that they are in and where they are from racisim is still rife.

We don't all come into contact with informed enlightened people, so pick these things up naturally.

I had a young lad once ask me the proper name for what people call "Paki's", he honestly didn't know and i was the only person who he trusted to explain things to him,or not overreact.

I am from a mixed race family but i am white, so i hear a lot of real racism (that wouldn't be said in front of black/Asian colleagues), using certain words isn't racist in itself, if the person is ill informed of the connotations and are then willing to make a change.

Mamajammas Thu 03-Jan-13 23:22:28

I HATE that word.


NolittleBuddahsorTigerMomshere Thu 03-Jan-13 23:25:05

I agree Mama, but I wouldn't give it the nobility of referring to it as a 'word', a grunt of the ignorant is more accurate IMO.

charlieandthechocolatecake Thu 03-Jan-13 23:28:23

Maybe because her baby is going to be of mixed race, she feels she cannot be labelled as racist. The same way some black people call their friends niggers.

Very immature. Very racist. Poor child.

DoubleYew Thu 03-Jan-13 23:37:24

Lots of people have problems with dual heritage because it implies white and black are polar opposites, whereas if eg someone is from the Caribbean they are likely to have Scottish, English, Chinese, many African countries ancestors and due to the nature of slavery they may not even know what their history is. Describing them as black or dual heritage (ie half black) glosses over the reality of how complex most people's background is.

NotOnTheBeach Fri 04-Jan-13 00:21:05

BirdsGotta: I agree that ignorance may well be innocent over things like use of 'half caste' and it isn't fair to insult people who have good intentions but out of date habits. But surely calling your unborn mixed race baby a nig nog isn't down to lack of education or information!

ToffeePenny Fri 04-Jan-13 02:25:13

Firstly YANBU however:

When has Nig nog ever NOT been racist

There are occurrences of it in British army records of the 1930s & 40s where the common understanding appears to be that it was a concatanation of a shortened version of nignoramous (which at the time meant an imbecile and was itself a deliberate mispelling of ignoramus) and 'Nog' (short for noggin = head and also referring to a block of wood) so literally 'ignorant-headed'). 'Nig' was also used to denote new recruits on their transfer papers (standing for 'New In Germany') which lends some support to it having a non-racial common usage in the UK at least.

This usage would have been current at the same time as hyper segregation in the US was leading to an increase in black racial slurs, particularly n*gg*r, in place of the previously more common negro. By the mid 50s both nignoramous and nig-nog in the US are only found with the racist meaning but in the UK the two co-existed. The Oxford English Dictionary notes both usages with the racist usage now more common so there is a decent chance that it originally had an innocent meaning and got taken over by racists (b*stards).

The reason I know this is because I had no knowledge of the racist meaning until about 5 years ago. It was an affectionate term that both grandfathers (coming from naval and military backgrounds) used for us GC interchangably with 'silly billy' and 'daftie' and I am very sure that neither of them used it with any other meaning. I heard it a lot growing up, from other adults in the area (which given it was rural Wales had no race other than caucasian for 100 miles so highly unlikely to have been used as a racial slur).

I used it in front of dh, in reference to a misspelling of my name the dvla had made on my renewed driving license, meaning it as 'silly billy', and got my ear bitten off. This discrepancy in our understanding prompted the above research. Obviously I've not used it since.

As I said at the start, YANBU especially given the race of her other half, but there may be good reason why she is not aware of how bad it is (grandfathers in the military perhaps?) and, as other posters have suggested, if his family uses it affectionately by way of reclaiming it then it would explain her otherwise unusual vocabulary.

ToffeePenny Fri 04-Jan-13 02:34:25

Just realised your question was:

WIBU by not challenging her choice of language

Yes. But you know that as it is still needling you that she went away still not seeing it as a term to avoid using in future.

Next time you will.

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 04-Jan-13 03:17:26

I'm surprised anyone in their early twenties would say such a word in all honesty.

Certainly isn't common parlance with my group of friends. Never has been. A mixed race girl I went to school with used to insist she was half caste but she was South African so maybe that had something to do with it. Never known any other mixed raced people of my age group insist it.

OhMerGerd Fri 04-Jan-13 06:37:03

The poor child.

If that's the attitude or level of awareness of his or her first champion, defender and love, babe is in for a rough time.

Little one isn't going to be debating the historical context of the use of mummy's 'nicknames'.

Will just be bursting its little heart crying and wondering 'why me' when being bullied in the playground or abused on the street, and then going home for more.

Mother needs help. If she's that unaware she needs a good friend to take her aside and explain. Not sure how the partner figures in this but he must be unaware of her terminology or it's a very loose relationship.

Sigh.... Poor child.

hackmum Fri 04-Jan-13 07:49:07

It's a very outdated term and extremely offensive. What a strange way to refer to one's unborn baby.

The only person I've heard using the term in recent years is, regrettably, my MiL, who is in her late 80s. ToffeePenny has cast light on something for me, though - I've heard MiL use the word, not just to refer to black people, but simply in reference to people she doesn't like (notably Prince Charles!) so maybe for her it still has that "silly billy" connotation.

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 08:02:53

alis I know a number of MR adults who refer to themselves as half-caste. People can obviously self define, bur I would never use the term. More people are offended by it than not

Thank you everyone for your replies and opinions.

In reference to the poster who asked if I was black and that's why her sister told her to apologise - I am not, but my vocal dislike of racist, and indeed any bigoted, language is well known amongst my friends.

I knew I should have spoken up, my feelings were perfectly clear... I'm not one of those people who can hide emotions - everything I feel is very clearly shown on my face! - however I was reluctant for a couple of other reasons as well as in my original post, mainly that I wasn't feeling very well, and was suffering with a sinus infection (therefore not in my usual 'fighting' mood) and also I wondered if I was somehow being 'set-up' to see if I would bite.

This girl is not my friend, I didn't like her and have no intention of ever spending time with her again... She was kind of rude, but in an immature way, several times throughout the evening - for example laughing at me for ordering a milkshake to drink, rather than alcohol (I needed to soothe my sore throat)

So I accept that IWBU in not speaking up. I don't know how I would have made any difference, but at least I wouldn't have been mulling it over days later... confused

HappyJazzy Fri 04-Jan-13 09:38:24

I wonder if she used it as a very misguided (and ignorant) term of endearment? Like other people call their baby "jelly bean" hopefully someone points out to her it's actually quite offensive.

gimmecakeandcandy Fri 04-Jan-13 09:41:31

Horrible horrible word, what a stupid woman! She needs to feel ashamed

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 09:57:02

She knows that term is not acceptable!

She's dating a black guy, and she apologized for saying it. She knows

Why do people fall over themselves all the time, to make excuses for racist behaviour/language/individuals? hmm

QOD Fri 04-Jan-13 09:58:21

My friends do was brought up being called "f'ing p*ki" every time he misbehaved. By his white mum who married a Bangladeshi and had two children with him. The sister escaped most of this for some reason.
H has no relationship with her at all now

Just too weird, I can't understand it

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 10:00:49

toffee in what context do you think a pregnant mum would refer to her unborn child as 'daftie" or "silly billy"?

fromparistoberlin Fri 04-Jan-13 10:06:31

sweet fucking jesus

she is calling her unborn baby a nig nog?

mama.....I would call her on it, and BIG time

it s a disgusting offensive term, and noone with an ounce of a brain would use it. tell her you would prefer for to not use that word, it rude, racist and offensive

someone needs to tell her

ask her if she would use that term to her partners family???

I am shocked!!!

Pooka Fri 04-Jan-13 10:11:23

I think it's entirely possible to call an unborn baby a silly billy in an affectionate way - for example, if you were discussing the pregnancy with a friend and said "the baby was head down but keeps moving head up, the silly billy". It's cutesy but understandable in context.

Bit like I call the dcs a silly sausage.

Nig nog makes me very uncomfortable.

puds11isNAUGHTYnotNAICE Fri 04-Jan-13 10:11:57

I can only assume that if she is referring to her own child in this way, she doesn't realise its racist. Not sure how she wouldn't know that, but it would appear that way.

I would still correct her on her language though as if she doesn't know, then she really does need to know.

DontHaveAtv Fri 04-Jan-13 10:15:26

I would have said something to her. I've got mixed race children and I would never in a million years say something like that. I know mixed race adults who have major issues because of their parents attitude towards them.

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 10:15:48

'nig-nog' makes me fucking rage

LookBehindYou Fri 04-Jan-13 10:18:38

The term is odd and unpleasant but the girl seems to have been using it in a kind of jokey ironic way. You might not have enjoyed the joke but I think you need to let it go. I assume if she used the word seriously towards her partner he'd have put her straight.

DrRanj Fri 04-Jan-13 10:24:19

Damash - "mixed race" is the correct term. I doubt you would have seen the term half caste in newspapers, but fairly certain you will have semm "mixed race'".

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 10:33:21

No look racism is never ok, not in a 'jokey' way or otherwise

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 10:36:50

Id be amazed if a white woman in a relationship with a black man wasn't aware that nig nog is a racist term and wholly unacceptable.

LookBehindYou Fri 04-Jan-13 10:44:12

I know racism is never okay trap but maybe this girl had just received a ton of racist comments and was reacting to that. It's impossible to know out of context.

Theicingontop Fri 04-Jan-13 10:45:39

I'll bet it's something that's used behind closed doors between her and her partner, in a jokey way, that she thought was acceptable because her partner uses the word in jest. Obviously very stupid.

My OH calls our DS his little chocolato chocolate chip... he has a million different nicknames hmm but he wouldn't dream of uttering them outside the home. Just like he wouldn't call me his favourite nickname in public. People would be offended. Very offended. Keep it within the confines of the home if you find it funny. Someone should give her the memo.

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 10:51:56

It will not be ok for a mother to call her child nig-nog in private, if the child is expected to have any self-esteem

VitoCorleone Fri 04-Jan-13 11:37:03

Fucking hell, ive heard some bad shit in my time, but calling your unborn, mixed race child a nignog?!?!

I'll be honest with you, when i was growing up i was told that it was nasty to refer to somebody as being "black" and that "coloured" was a nice way of saying it, so as not to offend anyone - my mum hates racism. Maybe i should inform her.

Ive heard the term nignog used before and it is bloody awful. Ive also heard worse come out of my DP's nans mouth.

yfuwchhapus Fri 04-Jan-13 11:46:47

I have never heard that word...but it's obviously just awful!

Alisvolatpropiis Fri 04-Jan-13 14:21:05

trapclap I agree re self identifying.

Alwaysasking Fri 04-Jan-13 15:03:40

This reminds me of when I was pregnant with my mixed race ds and an ex of mine (who was jealous of my new relationship and pregnancy) referred to ds as a 'niglet'. I was livid, and cannot understand how this woman used a similar term for her own baby!

Grr I'm angry now. So many ignorant people out there.

ToffeePenny Fri 04-Jan-13 18:30:50

toffee in what context do you think a pregnant mum would refer to her unborn child as 'daftie" or "silly billy"?

I wasn't attempting to defend or justify her usage - her meaning was clearly the racist one (she would have questioned the OP's reaction or her sister's demand for an apology if she knew the meaning only as equivalent to 'silly billy') hence my agreeing with the OP as the opening to my reply.

I was (pedantically) answering the earlier poster's question of:

When has Nig nog ever NOT been racist?

The answer being potentially with the older (wartime) generation. That (obviously does not include this mum)

Within the context of my work, I deal with many people who are in the older age range of pensioners - 80, 85 plus. These folks regularly use language that is 'incorrect' however mostly you can tell that they mean no offence, but it is simply that they have not (or cannot) keep up with modern language changes.

I don't correct their language but for entirely different reasons. I simply cannot cause offence to people who are simply mistaken and might become very worried about being corrected - it's not my place to do so. However, if I thought someone was deliberately saying something in our very public building to cause offence, then I absolutely would speak up.

Mu1berryBush Fri 04-Jan-13 18:44:56

my xmil used to refer to herself as coloured. it's the label she is comfortable with and I can understand it.

soontobeburns Fri 04-Jan-13 20:33:58

I always say half caste I never knew it was wrong and never been pulled up on it confused blush

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 20:40:08

Every day is a school day!

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 21:44:55

This thread has got me thinking; I like the term 'mulatto' to describe mixed race, black and white. I like it because it is one word, its not 'half' or 'mixed' or 'dual'. I think its empowering. I would never use it, because of the historical context and I know it is controversial.

I'm interested to hear what others think?...might be worthy of another thread though

Mu1berryBush Fri 04-Jan-13 21:48:42

well, I used to know a un venezouelan and he wouldn't have tolerated mulatto, it was used by other venzuelans in a derogatory way. i wouldn't have known that though if he hadn't hisssed at somebody for saying that.

I've never heard the word mulatto. I'm intrigued but I would be worried about using it as I don't understand enough of its background to know whether it is a derogatory term.

I understand what you mean about it being 'one word' though.

Mu1berryBush Fri 04-Jan-13 22:04:48

That's a word from latin american spanish really isn't it?

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 22:08:50

Mulatto is used by some but widely known as offensive.

Think about where the word comes from and what it means.

Mule meaning offspring of two different species.

I think not.

squoosh Fri 04-Jan-13 22:10:22

Mulatto is a BIG no-no.

squoosh Fri 04-Jan-13 22:12:46

Also mulatto is a word mostly associated with American slavery.

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 22:16:31

I know what the word means and where it comes from.

Theory of origin and whether it is offensive vary around the world. It is not a well known word in the UK. It is not generally considered offensive in the US.There is a Mulatto organisation and forum

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 22:18:46

I also know a number of mixed rave people who prefer the term to 'mixed race'

Like I said, I wouldn't use it myself, whilst it is so controversial

squoosh Fri 04-Jan-13 22:22:45

I think it's a vile word and am happy that it's generally now considered to be archaic and offensive.

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 22:27:59

I know there are many in the US that like it and Ive seen their forum.

There is also many more that are against it IN THE us and forums for that too!

I think using it despite its past is as ridiculous as the idea of black people using the N word to identify themselves.

How is it empowering?

As for it being one word and not meaning half? you know what the word means so how does that make sense?

Choosing a word because its one word is very odd reason to want to use it to identify people!

How about Bastardo? that flows? but you wouldn't for obvious reasons, this is no different.

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 22:30:56

Self hate springs to mind.

trapclap Fri 04-Jan-13 22:35:39

I think accusing people of self-hate for the way they choose to identify, is offensive

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 22:40:35

Ok. I agree with the notion that it is up to the individual how they choose to identify themselves, but I think if you choose to use such a hateful tern then expect judgement.

Can you answer my questions?

DoubleYew Fri 04-Jan-13 22:46:09

Hmmm, do you not understand what re-claiming a word means? Its saying yes I am <whatever> to take away the power from people who shout it at you in the street.

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 22:57:22

Yes I know the argument for reclaiming a word.

I just don't agree with it, Im not alone.

AmberLeaf Fri 04-Jan-13 23:00:17

Reclaiming gives the impression it was yours in the first place.

DoubleYew Fri 04-Jan-13 23:43:29

If you don't agree with it, don't do it. It is not up to you (or me or anyone) to tell other people not to do it if they want to.

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 00:38:34

Am I telling anyone to do or not do anything?

Or did trapclap say;

This thread has got me thinking; I like the term 'mulatto' to describe mixed race, black and white. I like it because it is one word, its not 'half' or 'mixed' or 'dual'. I think its empowering. I would never use it, because of the historical context and I know it is controversial

I'm interested to hear what others think?

She asked and I gave my opinion.

Dryjuice25 Sat 05-Jan-13 01:53:19

I wonder if it will be acceptable to this mother if say, aged 10, other people are using this term to describe her dc.

trapclap Sat 05-Jan-13 02:06:43

In answer to your questions;

I am not satisfied with the label 'mixed race'. I don't like 'mixed', I think it is negative. And race is a social construct, everyone is of the human race.

'dual heritage' would be accurate for my children, but not if for example one of the parents is carribean or of mixed heritage

Then, I don't Luke that an individual is defined by the sum of their parents, which is why I like the 'one wordedness'. It is more positive IMO. Mulatto is the only non-mixed up term to have been coined so far I think.

It's not clear cut that it is derived from mule. And it is thought it could have come from the Arabic word for mixed heritage (which I forget)

I would prefer another word myself. But its all a bit academic anyway as I am not MR and my children are free to identify as they choose, be that MR, DH, black, mulatto, 'other', 'no comment', whatever

I don't understand your comparison with bastardo, sorry.

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 02:42:12

My comparison with Bastardo is that it is a word in another language [not english] that means something descriptive yet offensive.

The origins of the word in this context are clear cut, I don't see how that can be argued with? you can google dictionary/thesaurus amongst other things and see many references to its use historically in relation to people of mixed parentage.

There is a word, which I cant remember exactly, that is arabic, but it doesn't mean the same thing, isn't a positive term [something to do with pureness of blood] and the theory is disputed/debunked in relation to any connection with the term mulatto.

I am puzzled as to how you can see 'mixed' as negative but mulatto as positive given its historical context?

You've heard of the 'tragic mulatto'? again, not positive or empowering.

Mulatto is the only non-mixed up term to have been coined so far I think

How is it 'non mixed up'? it means exactly that.

I don't think ethnicity defines a person, but identity is important, so some people feel ethnic identity is more important in that sense than others.

Again I agree that people are free to self identify, but you asked for opinions about the term and I am giving you mine, that isn't the same as saying no one should use it, Im just telling you why I think it shouldn't be used.

trapclap Sat 05-Jan-13 07:47:22

The comparison with bastardo then, isn't really appropriate as there aren't large numbers of people who self-identify as bastardo as far as I know

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 09:07:50

I wasn't implying there were large numbers of people self identifying as bastardo!

My point was again that in line with your one word theory, it is one word in another language. of course it wouldn't be used as although it describes something accurately, it is also widely known as an insult and offensive.

Interesting that that was the only part of my post you could respond to.

trapclap Sat 05-Jan-13 09:50:57

I think I replied to all of you points...what do you feel I haven't addressed?

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 09:53:35

The other 11 lines of my post.

Sorry, I was under the impression you were after a discussion about the subject.

My mistake.

InNeedOfBrandy Sat 05-Jan-13 10:06:31

I've had a few instances of people calling my dc niglets, not in a racist way more a term of endearment (not that I liked it) same people also say wagwan little ni**a to my ds. Black people to my mixed race dc if that's a difference. My dc know not to say that word, I've educated them to understand the connotation behind that word. They know where they come from and what that word entails. (I also don't believe in the word reclaiming bullshit) so yes they hear it from family and my friends and yes they here it from songs but they know not to say it.

As for the situation OP describes it wasn't nice but I wouldn't call it racist. When she's older and experiences prejudice (sp) towards her dc she might look back and squirm.

trapclap Sat 05-Jan-13 11:02:21

I was/am

I have addressed everything you raised in your post.

I understand what you say, I am familiar with the objection you raise

I don't speak Spanish. My language has some origins in Arabic. I think the origin I'd the term is not aS cut and dry as you believe it is on the one hand. On the other hand I am in favour of reclaiming words to disarm them

We disagree on both these points

Mu1berryBush Sat 05-Jan-13 11:23:16

i CAN'T use the term dual heritage for my children. It's their race specifically that is mixed. Their black grandmother is too far back in their lives to have any impact on their culture or to educate them about her own parents/grandparents heritage. she has no interest in doing that. Anyway, I've split up from her son. I'm sorry, but it's news to me that mixed race is controversial. I have used it. Not often as it's not often relevant. But I did mention it at the doctors recently as my son had a condition which can be a symptom of a condition which I knew was more common amongst black people, so I just mentioned that he was mixed race. Rarelly mention it though. Dual Heritage ! no way could I replace it with that!

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 11:25:17

Mixed race isn't controversial?!

Mulatto is the controversial one.

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 11:29:37

I think the origin I'd the term is not aS cut and dry as you believe it is on the one hand

As I believe it is?!

Ok forget me, what about all the other thousands of academics who have researched and documented it?

You haven't addressed everything I raised in my posts at all, but I think that is probably because you don't have the answers.

I have given a reasoned argument to what I have said my objections to that term are, you haven't you have just said 'I disagree'

lljkk Sat 05-Jan-13 11:30:19

We were taught Mulatto as a completely boring uncontroversial word in my Spanish classes, 30 years ago. <<muse>>

I am guessing the girl in OP's story mixes a lot of with black people, and let's face it, a lot of black people throw the N-word around a huge amount about themselves and others from their approximate racial background. That's why I think she finds the derivative "Nignog" acceptable. She is used to black people saying it about themselves and about mixed race people.

Seems to me that racism is about intent not specific words. If she means the word with teasing love then it wasn't racist.

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 11:34:00

That is a prime example of why reclaiming words is bullshit.

It allows their use in a derogatory sense.

If she means the word with teasing love then it wasn't racist

That is so screwed up I can't even begin.

trapclap Sat 05-Jan-13 11:49:47

No, I have told you why I support the word. And there is a school of thought that believes the word is Arabic in origin. It is entirely possible that it has 2 origins. There are many words that mean different things in different languages.

Still confused as to what you think I haven't addressed

DrRanj Sat 05-Jan-13 11:51:20

I am sorry but I still find referring to women as bitches, hos, bints, or any other derogatory term offensive even though other women may choose to call themselves that. And I know plenty of black people who would not use the n word and would find it offensive in any context.

May not be the same thing, and I am white so I am not going to tell people what they should or shouldn't be offended by, but I would not use the fact that other black people use the n word as an excuse to get away with saying it myself, whether I was using it to reply to my unborn child or not.

Personally I would warn the girl against saying it, she is goi g to seriously upset people (including op already) if she thinks it's on to keep Usi g that expression in any company.

DrRanj Sat 05-Jan-13 11:53:18

Oh and mulatto to me has horrible connotations. Often used in American historical fiction, and refers to a very marginalised group who are shunned by both sides in this context, so forme conjures negative images from my limited experience of the word.

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 12:17:05

No, I have told you why I support the word. And there is a school of thought that believes the word is Arabic in origin. It is entirely possible that it has 2 origins

That theory is debunked. google it.

It is not entirely possible that it has two origins, it is well documented that its use in this context is based in slavery.

You really haven't told me why you support it!

Tell me how it is empowering?

TBH you sound like you are basing your argument on something you have read on Mulatto.org without fully understanding the background or the massive holes in the arguments for its use.

AmberLeaf Sat 05-Jan-13 12:19:47

Its origins are a moot point anyway, its historical use was never ever positive.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now