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Just a little odd, or just a little racist?

(42 Posts)
Sunnysummer Mon 07-Oct-13 09:30:13

Apologies for long intro!

DS is the only mixed race (in fact the only non-white) child in mothers group. He has three white grandparents (from 2 European countries and 1 English-speaking one) and one non-white grandparent - to avoid total unmasking, let's say Indonesian. Our home is now the UK and DS's first nationality is British. At home we speak English, plus my native European language, though we have visited all of our home countries and are keen to maintain ties, so do occasionally discuss this with other mums from overseas.

One of the other mothers now continually refers to him as 'the little Indonesian boy'. At first I was not bothered, it's easy to forget names and I suppose that babies don't have lots of other distinguishing characteristics! But now she clearly knows his name but still does it continually, to the point where she introduces him that way to new mums.

I think that she means well, and she sees it as cool that her daughter has a non-white little friend - and I wouldn't mind so much, except it makes me continually feel like explaining to the new mums that yes, I am actually his mother, even if we don't look very alike, and makes me wonder if it will always be like this.

I am probably (definitely) over thinking this, and being a bit PFB. But AIBU to want to stop it? In any case, is there a tactful way to get her to stop introducing him by a quarter of his ethnic background?

Sunnysummer Mon 07-Oct-13 09:31:19

That is such an essay, so sorry! Just wanted to avoid drip feeding confused

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 07-Oct-13 09:31:41

YANBU. Just tell the silly woman to stop it. 'Please could you stop talking about him like that?' or whatever...

tiggerpigger Mon 07-Oct-13 09:33:24

It would be ok if she needed to describe him to someone who didn't know his name, but not as a long term thing. She should know his name.

kiriwawa Mon 07-Oct-13 09:35:45

Is his name really hard to pronounce/very unusual? I'm just wondering if there's any possibility she might be worried she'd get it wrong.

Otherwise she's being very odd. And why is this woman introducing him to other people anyway?

I'd say 'he's British actually and his name is X' and give a big beatific smile to weird mum

ErrolTheDragon Mon 07-Oct-13 09:39:00

She's out of order. He's British. She may 'mean well' but your DS will be taking this in and you don't want someone else defining his identity for him.

Take Kiri's advice.

Sunnysummer Mon 07-Oct-13 09:39:32

Slightly unusual but in top 200 type name...

bootsycollins Mon 07-Oct-13 09:42:34

What a weirdo, tell her the 1970's called and they want their attitude back.

MaidOfStars Mon 07-Oct-13 09:45:45

Agree with above, just politely say 'He's not Indonesian, he's British, and his name is ....'.

curlew Mon 07-Oct-13 09:45:57

"Please could you use my son's name when you talk about him? It's X"

Sunnysummer Mon 07-Oct-13 09:57:15

Thank you! I thought it was a bit off but am also (a) a bit PFB and (b) really terrible at confrontation, so wanted to be really sure before I said anything, especially as my mums group are generally lovely and have been a huge source of support.

Thinking that he'll be taking this in is a help for spurring me on, and it seems so easy and logical the way you guys phrase it, will do this and be brave!

conkertheworld Mon 07-Oct-13 10:03:06

Perhaps you could say, oh, how funny to hear that, I don't think of him as Indonesian, he's my son and I'm from XXX. His name's X.

Or tickle her baby's chin and say oooh, he looks so local, you can tell his parents haven't ever been out the post code!

wigglesrock Mon 07-Oct-13 10:04:00

What curlew said accompanied with an eyeroll.

I really don't think you're being PFB and usually I'm first to call that smile

edlyu Mon 07-Oct-13 10:14:17

I think she is being racist in that she is identifying your Ds by his colour rather than his nationality.

You have a very mixed ( and interesting) family and if this woman wanted to she could equally identify your Ds as the little French/German/Italian (or whatever ) boy. She has chosen to ignore those parts of his background in order to focus on the fact that his skin colour is different and therefore 'indonesian'.

She has no need to introduce him to new members anyway.That is your job . Call him by his name and challenge her if she mentions Indonesia in reference to him without also mentioning the other 3 countries.

KirjavaTheCorpse Mon 07-Oct-13 10:16:27

YANBU, it's rude and quite strange.

I had something similar with a friend I'd made at playgroup, who invited me along to a playtime/gathering her friend was having in the park. She introduced us with "oh and this is DS' little black friend, chuckle chuckle" hmm

She knew his name, of course. And the look of recognition on her friend's face made me think she'd been talking about her DS' 'little black friend' before, as some sort of novelty or something.

In this day and age. Honestly.

Coupon Mon 07-Oct-13 10:20:10


MrsOakenshield Mon 07-Oct-13 10:22:00

she sounds narrow-minded and ignorant and borderline (at best) racist.

Your son sounds like he has an amazing heritage!

Is this a moment for the favourite MN response of 'did you mean to be so rude?' . . . ?!

THERhubarb Mon 07-Oct-13 10:25:56

How very very very utterly and totally unacceptably rude of her. Does she feel that this is an acceptable way to introduce adults too? Would she introduce you to someone by saying "and this is my little African friend"?

Your son is, as you say, British. He has a name which she should have the courtesy and good grace to use.

I don't believe she is an out-and-out racist but she is clearly very ignorant and has zero manners. I would be fuming if someone identified my child in that way.

You need to tell her that you find her description of your son offensive and that you'd be grateful if she used his name from now on, otherwise you may have to refer to her own child as "that little white girl". angry

kiriwawa Mon 07-Oct-13 10:27:57

Kirjava shock

Please tell me you're no longer friends with her!

WilsonFrickett Mon 07-Oct-13 10:30:18

If you really do hate confrontation you could try a passive-agressive 'oh my goodness, have you forgotten DS name again? It's [name], not 'little Indonesian boy.' smile brightly and <eyeroll> to the new people. You could even follow that up with 'One of his grandparents is Indonesian, we're clearly very exotic for round here.' <more eyerolls> 'Let me show you where to put your coat/get a drink/change the baby.'

vikinglights Mon 07-Oct-13 10:30:40

I'd think that was both odd and racist.

Even your family identified as 'indonesian' (which I get the impression you don't) it would be an odd way to introduce someone unless it was particularly relevant to the conversation.

I don't live in my native country and my kids kindergarten has about 50% of kids with one or both parents from abroad so we do have conversations along the lines of X's mummy comes from Y and they speak Z language occasionally but its not how we introduce people.....

I think I'd probably say something like DS is british, his grandfather (or whoever) is indonesian with a slightly withering look and see if she got the message.

pigletmania Mon 07-Oct-13 10:32:30

When she says tat correct her, and say no actually his name is Ben for example

THERhubarb Mon 07-Oct-13 10:33:53

I think you need to attend assertive classes because if there's one thing that every mum needs to be able to do and that is confrontation. Whether it's bullies at school, a shit teacher or someone else's parent, if your child is treated unfairly or picked on then you need to know how to fight your child's corner.

This is fighting your child's corner. Your son can't speak for himself just yet so he needs you to defend his corner. He is not to be seen for merely his colour or identified by a country he was not born in, he has a name and this is where you need to get bloody angry and demand that his name be used.

Your child will need you fighting for them at so many intervals in their lives, they will need you to step in and stick up for them. It's important. Please learn how to assertive.

TimidLivid Mon 07-Oct-13 10:34:08

I know what you mean my son has 3 uk white british grandparents and one Mexican granny, and his is referred to as Mexican or jokes made about eating tortillas all the time. People are generally silly, he usually says im a quarter Spanish. its bloody silly though, I get asked about my other , blonde son - how did that happen? err he has 3 white grandparent's u fecking idiot. you would think it was some sort of miracle that never happens. I think people don't like it sometimes when they cant categorise people into one thing the mixing bothers them. she is only seeing an Indonesian boy, she thiks one drop of forrin and that defines him. I would ask her to stop saying that, its really unimportant, his name is Jasper or whatever smile or u could start calling her the rude English lady

Dahlen Mon 07-Oct-13 10:40:33

Depending on where you live (if it's a semi-rural, predominantly white area, for example) and this other mother's background (also predominantly white upbringing, etc), she might well be completely ignorant of the offence her words are causing. A lot of casual racism is a result of ignorance rather than malice.

That's by the by though. If careless language use isn't called when it happens, it perpetuates itself because every time it is used without censure it it condoned.

If you think she's just being thoughtless, just call her on it by saying something like "I'm sure you don't mean to be rude because you've been so welcoming into the group etc, but calling attention to my son's race instead of using his name is really starting to upset me." You haven't used the word 'racist' but made it clear what the issue is. My guess is that she'll stop it, but if she doesn't you'll then have a clear indication that she is in fact a racist, in which case you can be far stronger in your condemnation of it without qualms.

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