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Quick check - foreign MIL talking in English, does this come across as racist?

(61 Posts)
20109NC Sun 21-Dec-14 17:03:01

Have NC and about to go downstairs so won't be back for an hour or so.

MIL (white) here (UK), speaks very little English. Mostly we visit her abroad. FIL died five years ago and since then she goes on regular holidays to Kenya with similarly aged ladies (70s) - the other women go there explicitly for sex tourism. We think probably naively MIL just enjoys the attention, she pays various 'English teachers' to sit with her all day, tell her how good her English is and she sends them regular gifts when she goes home (she is wealthy) and enjoys showing her friends many emails from them telling her how much they love her and miss her etc. To me this is akin to Western men going to Thailand or similar for sex, I find it deeply exploitative and wrong.

She will periodically say, in a very loud voice (I had totally forgotten this before yesterday) "I love black men!!" In her home country, few understand, but she saw a group of black men last night (we were out for drinks, fortunately walking down the street), pointed at them, burst out cackling and shouted really loudly, "I LOVE BLACK MEN!!!" Because we know the context (of her holidays), we both found it cringy and told her that in English you don't really say that... but that's not exactly true. She didn't really understand so I think she will say it again.

If we told her it sounded racist in English she would be horrified and not say it, she doesn't know enough English to know whether or not that is true.

Honestly, if you heard someone shout this in the street, does it sound racist in any way or is it just because we know about the sex tourism that it sits uncomfortably with us? I think it comes across as pervy at the very least. She is here for two weeks so before all our neighbours start hating us I wanted to check. Last time we stayed with her for three days and she said it about four times. She loves talking about her holidays and the people she meets so it comes up a lot.

20109NC Sun 21-Dec-14 17:04:46

And I am not a troll at all. Should have said that. MIL has provided me with a lot of AIBU fodder over the years. It's the sort of thing you cannot believe unless you're in the room.

Hatespiders Sun 21-Dec-14 17:09:36

Ooooh, it does sound a bit racist to be honest. It's like a group of men shouting, "Cor! I LOVE blondes!" It's at the very least inappropriate. I should try to get across to her that it isn't on, especially here in UK where you have to be careful. We don't take kindly to racist remarks, and as you say, there are many black people around who very well might take offence.

My dh is black and I know what you mean about sex-tourism, which I've seen a lot of in Gambia. It's very distasteful to me but that's a separate issue.

Out of interest, what IS her native language, if you don't mind me asking?

TheSpottedZebra Sun 21-Dec-14 17:10:00

Yikes.

Yes, I think it's 'othering' so to me it would seem racist.

I'd really not be ok with my mum, or MIL saying that, no matter what her 1st language was, and whether or not she went on those holidays. And I'd tell her why.

msrisotto Sun 21-Dec-14 17:10:34

Well, the way she is meaning it it is racist! Eugh, it's so gross and inappropriate as well.

20109NC Sun 21-Dec-14 17:12:55

Thank goodness! Okay, I will tell her out flat, I have no problem with that. To me it felt 'othering' as she is viewing them as objects, which is vile but my parents (not the best barometer) often accuse me of being overly PC so I wasn't sure.

Hatespiders would rather not say what the language is, sorry - I post a lot under my usual NN.

peasandlove Sun 21-Dec-14 17:13:40

I don't think it's racist. Her holidays are worse in my eyes.

LostTeacher Sun 21-Dec-14 17:16:46

Well I'm pretty sure it's okay to find certain types of people attractive without being racist, but perhaps the way she is exclaiming it has an element of racism.

I had written a long post explaining what I mean, but deleted it as it made me sound as odd as the MIL confused.

Knowing me this is a wind up; the first thing I thought of when I read it was that it'd make a good Little Britain sketch.

If it is true then OP I don't envy you.

20109NC Sun 21-Dec-14 17:19:07

Her holidays are a whole other thread peasandlove. Believe me, we've tried talking to her about it but she doesn't care and gets very offended hmm It upsets DH twice over - once because it's an awful thing to be doing and secondly because he loves his Dad so much and he feels that her casually hooking up with much younger men demonstrates that MIL never really cared for FIL (whether that is true or not is another matter again).

Guess how much I was looking forward to this visit! grin

20109NC Sun 21-Dec-14 17:20:40

Lost It's true. In the last five years I've had six AIBU threads and one support thread about MIL, all unanimous YANBUs.

Honestly I think DH should go NC, but she's his mother so (until we have DCs, then it becomes a joint decision we make for them) it's his choice.

lljkk Sun 21-Dec-14 17:20:54

Very pervy for sure yeah, but I can't call that racist.

divingoffthebalcony Sun 21-Dec-14 17:25:23

It would be explicitly racist if she was shouting "I HATE BLACK MEN", but I wouldn't call what she's doing racist. Inappropriate, bizarre, objectifying, wrong, yes... but I don't think this is overt racism.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sun 21-Dec-14 17:27:23

I think she is saying she fancies black men which is not in itself racist.

She sounds a bit eccentric to say least

TheFriar Sun 21-Dec-14 17:27:55

I can't say I would find that racist.
knowing the context it's disturbing to say the least. But you need to remember no one around you will.
It's a bit like someone saying 'I love blond people' or one with blue eyes etc.
I would imagine though that people around will also think it's a very weird comment as you don't normally shout things like this at the top of your lungs !!

PhaedraIsMyName Sun 21-Dec-14 17:28:27

If this is real I'd want nothing to do with her. How many times have we , rightly, criticised men for sex tourism?

I think you are being naïve about what she gets up too. What you have described sounds sleazy and lecherous.

Is it racist? Yes and sleazy.

Hatespiders Sun 21-Dec-14 17:29:17

20109, no problem. Sorry for asking, only I thought you might know someone who could explain to her in her own lingo about it.

I've passed often through Gambia on my way to Senegal, and used to get a cheap flight to Banjul. The plane was full of let's say a certain type of women who were cackling excitedly about this very subject. It made me cringe tbh. I suppose the young African men (who were really prostitutes) could make quite a bit of money out of this sort of thing. But I couldn't get out of Banjul quick enough and over the border in a bush taxi to Casamance.
I just hope she's very careful about protection, as HIV (and other diseases) is rife in most parts of East and West Africa.

msrisotto Sun 21-Dec-14 17:30:54

Nah, I disagree. I think it's racist when she says it because of the sex tourism aspect. She doesn't think the same as white men because she doesn't think white men can be bought...

thornrose Sun 21-Dec-14 17:32:51

Shouting "I love black men" in the street isn't racist but she is making a fool of herself! She could get a negative reaction from someone who might not take kindly to it which is what would worry me.

FibonacciSeries Sun 21-Dec-14 17:33:11

Can you imagine a man shouting in the street "I love Asian women!"? I rest my case.

Lottiedoubtie Sun 21-Dec-14 17:35:07

It's certainly pervy and objectifying and on those grounds I'd tell her it was culturally unacceptable to talk like that in the UK. I'd tell her people would think she was rude and therefore might be rude back to her.

As to whether it's racist as such, not sure, but it doesn't sit well.

Chippednailvarnish Sun 21-Dec-14 17:35:52

This thread has made me shock

Hatespiders Sun 21-Dec-14 17:36:56

I've just gone through and asked my dh what his reaction would be. He says he'd think it would be very strange behaviour, ('Un comportement bizarre') but not racist.

quietlysuggests Sun 21-Dec-14 17:39:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SorchaN Sun 21-Dec-14 17:42:01

I suppose it's not as overtly racist as if she were professing to hate black men, but I agree that it's 'othering' and inappropriate. I would cringe if I heard someone saying something like that.

I think it's a good idea to discourage her in whatever way possible.

mynewpassion Sun 21-Dec-14 17:42:15

Agree. Pervy not racist. I would have been embarrassed.

Your DH should separate his mother's love for his father from her paying young men for attention. She loved him and probably still does but she's also trying to move on in her life. Not in the most positive and safest way but she's moving on.

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