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

(131 Posts)
TastesLikePanda Thu 03-Jan-13 20:40:16

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?

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

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

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 without fully understanding the background or the massive holes in the arguments for its use.

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.

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.

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

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.

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 11:29:37

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'

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

Mixed race isn't controversial?!

Mulatto is the controversial one.

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!

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

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.

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.

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 09:07:50

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 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 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 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.

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.

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.

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 Fri 04-Jan-13 23:00:17

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

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.

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 22:40:35

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?

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