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AIBU to think if your own mothers refers to you as coloured

(111 Posts)
Fusedog Sat 08-Mar-14 18:11:29

I was in tesco today talking to a women who was clearly pregnant we were down the baby isle and she started asking me about my dd hair, what I do with it ECt
Then she said I only ask because I am havering a coloured baby as well confused
AIBU to think this child stands no change in terms of self asteem in terms of her heritage or background if her own mother refers to her as coloured ffs

Btw I am black my ds is mixed the lady was white

I wasn't cross just felt a bit sorry for the baby she is gonna have

Pippintea Sat 08-Mar-14 18:18:12

I honestly didn't know that 'coloured' wasn't PC until I came on MN. 'Black' was not the said thing when I was young. 'Coloured' was polite. hmm

Chottie Sat 08-Mar-14 18:19:53

I have understood that coloured is right up there with the 'n' word. I would never use it.

WorraLiberty Sat 08-Mar-14 18:20:28

I live in a very diverse part of London and I can assure you that in my experience, people getting upset about the word 'coloured', rarely happens in real life.

I know lots of black and asian people who refer to themselves and each other as coloured.

I think sometimes MN and real life are worlds apart...well for me anyway.

missymarmite Sat 08-Mar-14 18:29:04

It's not a turn of phrase I would use tbh. Ds is mixed race and I have never said that. I was a bit shock when a South African friend of mine referred to herself as "coloured", but I guess to her it was culturally acceptable.

Trouble is, it gets silly when we keep on having to invent new, ever more euphemistic terminology for describing people. Someone recently said that you shouldn't refer to mixed race any more, rather dual heritage or something. In the past it was acceptable to say half caste, not now. I don't know. I would hate to insult anyone or make them feel bad but I think it could get ridiculous!

olidusUrsus Sat 08-Mar-14 18:29:23

Coloured being offensive is definitely not limited to MN. It's an awful term, I live in a diverse area too and have never, ever heard it used.

Fusedog Sat 08-Mar-14 19:03:44


I don't think you have to invent new terms

Black people are black
White people are white
Asian people are Asian

And mixed raced people are mixed raced or dule heritage

Not rocket science really i did think hello 1950s called and they want there "word" back

Fusedog Sat 08-Mar-14 19:05:44

Add message | Report | Message poster WorraLiberty Sat 08-Mar-14 18:20:28

It don't upset me it's just a boy old fashioned and I was a bit hmm to hear somone use it espically somone who is having a mixed raced child

bochead Sat 08-Mar-14 19:07:44

Not all mixed race people are of dual heritage, some are triple, quadruple heritage or more wink Getting into that risks getting into the deep south descriptors of Marroon, Octoroon etc = NOT nice.

I usually tick "other" for DS nowadays.

lljkk Sat 08-Mar-14 19:12:11

I think intent counts a huge amount more than the letters. The woman in OP did not consider it offensive or mean it as offensive. That's the part that matters most.

Innogen Sat 08-Mar-14 19:13:48

I assume thats what her black DP is using, and so she doesn't know it's offensive?

RalphLaurenLover Sat 08-Mar-14 19:17:01

I wouldn't of found it offensive then again I've always called myself Half-Caste and not mixed race.

I'd move on

FraidyCat Sat 08-Mar-14 19:17:08

There's nothing intrinsically awful about "coloured", it's descriptive, much like "black." It's offensive merely because it's no longer PC. I think it ceased to be PC in the 1960's, when "black" was claimed as a word to describe themselves, by politically conscious activists.

I have a theory that any word commonly used by racists to describe another race eventually becomes offensive, even if it was originally perfectly fine, because it becomes associated in the victims minds with its use in an abusive context. For this reason I think "coloured" would have become offensive even if it hadn't been specifically rejected when "black" was claimed as its replacement. "Black" is inoculated against this fate because it was chosen by people to describe themselves.

I think I have seen/heard someone comment about a mixed-race ancestor of his who was an adult in the 50's, and was insulted to be referred to as "black" by the younger generation, at a time the younger generation had rejected "coloured", which she still used to describe herself.

NNDS Sat 08-Mar-14 19:17:27

Coloured is an official term in South Africa for mixed race people (almost only reserved for black and white mix though). It is in no way offensive over there. Official forms mainly have 'black'/ 'white'/ 'coloured'. It's a different matter here though. It would be simpler to just use black/white/mixed etc. rather than trying to invent new terms or terms with historical negativity.

NurseyWursey Sat 08-Mar-14 19:19:19

In the real world the majority of people I encounter socially and in my professional capacity don't actually know coloured is offensive, and think they're actually being polite in saying it like that. They seem to think it's a softer term than the blunt 'black'.

Along with mixed raced.

It was socially acceptable for a long time, if they've never been told any different how are they to know.

HesterShaw Sat 08-Mar-14 19:23:18

They use coloured in SA and Zimbabwe for specifically mixed race people rather than black don't they? I was quite startled when I heard my Zimbabwan friend use the word, until she explained.

HesterShaw Sat 08-Mar-14 19:23:57

Oh cross posts with NNDS.

Piscivorus Sat 08-Mar-14 19:24:22

If there is a problem and she just doesn't know it then maybe her partner will tell her. If there isn't a problem for them then it is not your place to judge her or to make such sweeping pronouncements as you feel sorry for her child. I think that's a bit of an offensive thing to say about somebody you don't even know.

If you feel so strongly about it why didn't you tell her gently and politely instead of coming on here and suggesting her, as yet unborn, child is condemned to a life of misery.

LittleRedDinosaur Sat 08-Mar-14 19:24:43

I sometimes think it's the word that people who aren't really comfortable with discussing the colour of people's skin use when they are worried about sounding racist & dont just want to say black. Don't think it's meant in a bad way and some people clearly still think it's correct. Makes me cringe a bit though.

Standinginline Sat 08-Mar-14 19:25:37

I know coloured is very un - PC now but it was once considered politically correct so don't see why it's suddenly offensive. Don't think people really think what they're saying ,it's not as if they're out to offend :/
It's like the other day my friend who has a mixed race kid wrote a status about ignorance towards her son and someone replied with "they're just jealous because our kids are so much more special ". This lady has a mixed race child and actually very educated. I was shocked ,this would've been classed as so unacceptable if that had been written by a mother about her white child.

Politically correct always changes ,don't think it's suddenly classed as racist if you're not upto date with it an refer to an old term. Think you'd have something to worry about if she'd referred to her unborn child as another term (begins with N).

FraidyCat Sat 08-Mar-14 19:33:12

I was a bit shock when a South African friend of mine referred to herself as "coloured", but I guess to her it was culturally acceptable.

In South Africa, "coloured" has a very specific meaning which is different to its usage in the USA and UK. Under Apartheid it was a race classification that used to describe someone of mixed heritage who probably spoke a "white" language at home. A black South African who spoke an African language was not "coloured". (Even before Apartheid was introduced, South African law had a history of distinguishing between "coloureds" and black Africans, with "coloureds" having more rights (including some voting rights) than blacks, but fewer rights than whites.)

ImperialBlether Sat 08-Mar-14 20:09:05

But I don't understand, OP:

Black people are black
White people are white
Asian people are Asian

Why are Asian people defined by their country of origin and not others?

WorraLiberty Sat 08-Mar-14 20:16:48

I don't think you have to invent new terms

Black people are black
White people are white
Asian people are Asian

And mixed raced people are mixed raced or dule heritage

I'm not really sure it's that simple.

If you had Asian great-grandparents and you, your parents and grandparents were born and raised in this country, you might get mightily pissed off at being called Asian just because your skin is brown.

My parents are Irish but I am English and since I'd never stepped foot in Ireland until I was 25yrs old, I wouldn't have appreciated random people assuming I was Irish, when I'd never been anywhere near the country.

But because I am white, no-one made such assumptions based on the colour of my skin...unlike people who are labelled 'Asian' because their distant relatives were born in Asia.

It's complicated I guess.

lljkk Sat 08-Mar-14 20:20:45

Probably because the Bangladeshis & Pakistanis fought a nasty war & just loathe being put in the same pot. Not that the Indians are real fond of either of those others, either.

ChoosandChipsandSealingWax Sat 08-Mar-14 20:23:38

Agree with Worra.

I'm actually only about a sixteenth British because my father's family always keep marrying furriners - DM is Swedish so I'm more Swedish than anything else. But legally, I'm British, and feel British. It would really annoy me if people called me something else because of the colour of my skin. It doesn't happen, because I look white (although distantly mixed race).

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