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To be so infuriated by this...

(70 Posts)
TwittyMcTwitterson Thu 13-Feb-14 09:36:43

Background: I'm white and my bosses are white. I'm late 20s one is early 40s the other is 50 something.

I have been told off today for using the term 'black' (we were talking about political correctness and labelling a SAHM and how for decades it was housewife, he said why would it change... I said things do eg coloured is now black)

Anyway, they went mad saying you can't use language like that, that's unacceptable. I know they are of a different age and they have been bought up using 'coloured' but I have always been told 'black' is correct. This sparked a twenty minute debate with my boss getting angrier and angrier saying his best mate would hate me. He's coloured and nothing else. I resorted to google blah blah blah.

Now I'm being branded racist because I use a word my generation has deemed appropriate! Grrrrr confused

LetsFaceTheMusicAndDance Thu 13-Feb-14 09:38:46

Get your HR department involved in the sense that they will know that black is acceptable and tell your bosses so.

mrsjay Thu 13-Feb-14 09:40:23

your boss said coloured that really isnt acceptable really but of course he has a coloured friend so its fine, I would do as suggested sort it out with HR

TwittyMcTwitterson Thu 13-Feb-14 09:40:36

Ps I know one rule doesn't fit all. My mixed race friend gets highly offended by being called mixed race. She is half cast and always has been. Why change now. His friend probs thinks the same why but still. Annoyed.

TwittyMcTwitterson Thu 13-Feb-14 09:41:41

Small company. No hr as such. It's so typical isn't it. I'm not racist I have a black friend... confused

ZingSweetApple Thu 13-Feb-14 09:42:52

we have black friends and DH has black colleagues - and they all said they are ok with being called black because it is the truth, they are black.
(although technically I have never seen anyone who was actually black, apart from chimney sweepers covered in soot, so as a pedant I think shades of brown would be more appropriate. )

you did nothing wrong.

KittensoftPuppydog Thu 13-Feb-14 09:44:02

I thinks you should get enough results from this thread to show them that they are wrong.
Black friends always say that they can tell someone is racist when they say 'coloured'. Personally, I think it's just a sign that they don't know any black people.

NinjaBunny Thu 13-Feb-14 09:45:23

I was branded a racist at my last job for reporting a black nurse for assaulting a patient. They seemd to think if she'd been white I'd have kept quiet.


Some people are thick, easily riled and it's an easy thing to accuse someone of.

No real advice if there's no HR, but you're not the first person to be accused of such a hideous thing.


YoureBeingASillyBilly Thu 13-Feb-14 09:45:41

I would adopt a superior tone and 'warn' the boss that they would be wise to have a word with HR and educate themselves on the correct term before they end up pissing off a colleague or client. Make it clear you are in no doubt about that happening.

ZingSweetApple Thu 13-Feb-14 09:46:34

(and my "would be appropriate" comment just refers to stupid nitpicking.
none of it is appropriate if it hurts people's feelings - I thought I should clarify that)

attheendoftheday Thu 13-Feb-14 09:49:01

You are right and they are wrong.

That is all.

CrystalJelly Thu 13-Feb-14 09:50:26

I was under the impression that the term "coloured" is now conisdered offensive?

mrsjay Thu 13-Feb-14 09:51:23

what people refer themselves to is ok like your half caste friend nobody really uses that word anymore so that wouldnt be a word you would use to address somebody else who is mixed race (if any of that makes sense)

TwittyMcTwitterson Thu 13-Feb-14 09:52:42

Well I googled it and an mp resigned after the stick he got for using 'coloured'

If I was to have a HR problem, they are the pricks men I'd have to see I think

mrsjay Thu 13-Feb-14 09:56:05

all you need to do is just tell these people that of course you are not racist and stop being ridiculous, being racists is more than just a word

harticus Thu 13-Feb-14 10:02:44

I know they are of a different age and they have been bought up using 'coloured'

What rubbish - they are only in their 40s/50s!

I am 49 and have never used the term "coloured".

All of my black friends including my black ex-partner called themselves black.

Their dickheadery is nothing to do with their generation it is to do with the fact they are dickheads.

ZingSweetApple Thu 13-Feb-14 10:04:53

I didn't even know that "coloured" is offensive.

who decides these things?

harticus Thu 13-Feb-14 10:14:31


Coloured is an idiotic catch all term. It strips people of their identity. They aren't African or Sri Lankan or whatever they are just "coloured". Coloured being the opposite of white which was perceived to be the "norm".

In certain areas around the world like South Africa people had to endure the paper bag test to see if they were lighter or darker than the colour of a brown paper bag.

Just Google "No Coloreds" and hit the image search button to see why the history attached to the term coloured is so offensive and vile.

lljkk Thu 13-Feb-14 10:14:45

Gawd knows, in the States African-American became much preferred over "black" and then Whoopi Goldberg moaned that she'd rather be labeled Black or Jewish, because she doesn't feel the least bit African thank you. Now "brown" is mostly the rage.

I know people younger than me (born late 60s) who use "coloured".

I go with dark-skinned (it's factual, right?) But probably not PC, either.

Breadkneadslove Thu 13-Feb-14 10:15:38

check out the above, it may be helpful to share this with your colleagues, whether it changes what language they choose to use or not at least you can prove that you were not being offensive.

You were not in anyway being offensive and actually opening up a dialogue with colleagues is great as this is how we educate each other and move forward… Just as long as this does not have a negative impact / detrimental effect on how your bosses view you.

TwittyMcTwitterson Thu 13-Feb-14 10:37:10

That reminds me, I hear light skinned a lot now for mixed race people. A few yrs back me and my housemates two Indian girls and one black girl were discussing a girl we'd seen and they said I think she's light skinned. I said yeah kind of Olivey. They found it hilarious and said no we mean mixed race. We all make blunders but their unwillingness to change infuriated me. I just forwarded the university link and he looked at it n said what's this shit... Delete confused

Impatientismymiddlename Thu 13-Feb-14 10:44:06

Coloured is offensive partly because it was a term used in slavery days to demean black people. It is an outdated term and it is not acceptable to use it.
Black is the commonly accepted term in the UK. There is no point in arguing that people are actually shades of brown and therefore black isn't correct because white people are not technically white either.
I am not white and would be very offended if anybody called me coloured. I am no more coloured than anybody else.

Gruntfuttock Thu 13-Feb-14 10:53:01

Your bosses' ignorance of what's acceptable is nothing to do with their age. I'm 60 next week (sob) and I know better than that.

So there. smile

AngelaDaviesHair Thu 13-Feb-14 11:03:10

People can have inidividual preferences, like your friend who wants to be called half-caste (wtf, by the way?) but there is usually a consensus view, and there is simply no argument about what that is.

In this country, people of black African descent almost invariably are called, and want to be called, black. People of partial black African and something else descent (or other combinations of ethnic background) are overwhelmingly called, and want to be called, mixed race, bi-racial or dual heritage.

Anyone younger than 60 (other than someone who has lived their entire lifetime on a remote croft in the Highlands or Islands) and hasn't mastered this just isn't trying, really.

Generally people find 'coloured' and 'half-caste' offensive, for very valid political/historical reasons. Some people do argue this one though. A colleague of mine only in his 30s did. In the end I said he didn't have to agree, but at work in order to conform with our diversity policy he would have to refrain from using language most people deemed unacceptable.

And as for 'dark-skinned', why? We don't have to find mealy-mouthed euphemisms for being black/African. After all, it is not inferior or embarrassing, is it?

Piscivorus Thu 13-Feb-14 11:04:06

I think it's quite sad that, after all this time, we still need these classifications at all. We spent some time in South Africa in the 1980s and I was completely bemused by the classifications of black, white, coloured, Indian, Cape Malay and Chinese who were classed as honorary whites! It's a shame we can't all just be people.

A friend from home married a chap she met at university who was originally from Cape Town. He was of Indian descent and when she went to SA she was classed as indian although she was white when she visited before her marriage. An American colleague was proud of his Egyptian heritage but was "honorary white" in SA which he said was an honour he didn't ask for or want.

The whole thing is nonsense. We should not be defined by the colour of our skin.

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