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The term 'coloured'

(236 Posts)
Ticktock12 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:34:06

So I'm a new member of a team and one of my colleagues described someone and said 'Oh the coloured lady'. I corrected her obviously stating its offensive.
Aibu or is this a term people still use?

MuseumOfCurry Mon 10-Oct-16 16:35:25

I'd be a bit taken aback if the person were say, younger than 60. How old is she?

Namechanger2015 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:36:30

Argh, I hate this term so much! I am not white - the term coloured suggests to be that all people are white by default, and coloured people are 'others'.
Hate it!

VladmirsPoutine Mon 10-Oct-16 16:37:54

I don't think it is an acceptable term but I have in the past heard an Indian friend of mine describing her black SIL as coloured.
This sort of thing can be quite a mine field. I speak a language in which the direct translation of 'person of colour' would actually be very offensive.

mrsblackcat Mon 10-Oct-16 16:39:52

Depending on context you can gently indicate to people that 'black/asian' is preferable or just ignore. It's difficult as I find it's often used by people trying hard not to be offensive. What does annoy me is when it's used when there is no need. Someone I worked with used to talk about 'John, the coloured man' I knew who John was hmm

NapQueen Mon 10-Oct-16 16:40:03

I probably wouldn't say "that's offensive" but I would probably say "Black is the accepted terminology these days"

ladyratterley Mon 10-Oct-16 16:41:19

My DD & DM have both used this term over the past couple of years. I've corrected them (kindly).
They're in their early 70's and live in a rural very un-cosmopolitan area so I think the fact that this is now offensive has kind of bypassed them. They thought this was the PC term to use as opposed to "black". My partner was absolutely horrified that they would describe someone as "coloured" even at their age!

It made me think though.. when I was at school in the 90's it was normal to describe mixed race people as "half caste". It makes me cringe to think of it!

I think if this was an older lady then perhaps it's a forgivable mistake, but no one under the age of 60 or so should be so ignorant.

ayeokthen Mon 10-Oct-16 16:41:31

Oh dear, I've not heard anyone say that for a very long time. Not since I worked in a care home for the elderly actually. We had one resident (white South African) who would click her fingers and shout "samba" at a black South African man who I worked with, and if he didn't hear her she'd shout loudly "get the coloured boy over!"

Ticktock12 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:42:41

The lady is around 50 I would say. She explained that she has always said it but had her back up at the same time. I suppose she needs educating as I hope I did educate her a little bit but wasn't sure if people still used this term. I am Asian and don't want it coming across that I am using the 'race' card. What do you think?

VladmirsPoutine Mon 10-Oct-16 16:42:44

mrs I've often found that too. I used to work in a team with the same group of people for 6 years. By then I knew who 'Jennifer' was, so I was always hmm when another member would comment "Did you respond to Jennifer's request, you know the Asian one."

BeautyGoesToBenidorm Mon 10-Oct-16 16:43:15

I have South African friends and apparently it's quite normal in SA to use the term 'coloured' - it's not seen as offensive, although I'm happy to be corrected if I'm wrong!

BitOutOfPractice Mon 10-Oct-16 16:44:02

Is she British. My DP (not British) was shocked to the core when I said someone was black as that is still considered very offensive where he is from

queenc81 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:45:44

I do think it's a minefield, but I also don't understand why we need a term for different races.

I've never been called the White woman etc.

OohMavis Mon 10-Oct-16 16:46:25

Yanbu. It's not the term people use anymore. I suppose it would depend on the individual concerned as to whether it was offensive to him/her, though.

badtime Mon 10-Oct-16 16:46:43

At best, your colleague may have got jumbled up with 'person of colour', which is acceptable in some circles (although I know many people also find it offensive for much the same reasons as 'coloured'). Otherwise, I don't really understand how someone could think this was still an acceptable term to use.


mrsblackcat Mon 10-Oct-16 16:47:33

I don't think you were playing the race card because I am white British and don't really like 'coloured', but that's because it's always been drummed into me it's rude.

I think someone being a bit pompous about it might get backs up but if it was approached in a friendly 'oh, just so you're aware of this' way it probably wouldn't, although they might feel a bit embarrassed.

SatansLittleHelper2 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:49:37

Some black people refer to themselves as 'people of colour' don't they ??

It isnt a term.i'd use but it's one.older people often use, I.don't find it offensive but i'd probably gently correct someone using it.

OdinsLoveChild Mon 10-Oct-16 16:50:54

I have a friend who prefers 'coloured' as she quite rightly states she is not coloured black she is a beautiful shade of brown' She says being 'coloured' makes her sound bright and beautiful like a butterfly (which she is). Her parents agree with her. She is in her 30's so not old. I am very mindful that she and her family may be in the minority though.

OohMavis Mon 10-Oct-16 16:52:18

It does always surprise me how hostile people can be when they're told a term they're using to describe someone else isn't acceptable.

I remember gently telling a mum at DS' school that 'half-caste' isn't actually a nice or polite way to describe my son and her being very rude and defensive in return. How dare I object!

maddiemookins16mum Mon 10-Oct-16 16:54:27

My mum used "coloured", she would be 84 now. I strongly believe it was/is a generational term (although not a popular thing to say on MN). I did say to her once about it and she never said it again. I think she was just out of touch and ignorant but not malicously so.

JillyTheDependableBoot Mon 10-Oct-16 16:56:12

Coloured is a totally acceptable term for mixed race in South Africa; person of colour is fine in the US as far as I know. It is a minefield but I think one has a duty to get informed and do what it takes to make sure one doesn't cause offence.

Cherylene Mon 10-Oct-16 16:56:54

I'm 53 and remember my headmaster's wife referring to my Indian friend as 'coloured' in c. 1981 and thinking it was a bit hmm. I think she was trying to find a polite way of referring to my friend's .....erm ....non whiteness....? but could just have well have said 'friend' in the circumstances. She would not have referred to my other friend as 'has your ginger friend got a lift home?'. Anyway, it was a bit passé then, and probably confined to people who did not get out much.

BertrandRussell Mon 10-Oct-16 16:59:32

Waiting for someone to say that all their colored friends love being called colored...........grin

Floisme Mon 10-Oct-16 16:59:49

I'm 60. I do remember a time when it was seen as a polite term but I haven't heard it used for at least 40 years - and that includes my mum who lived into her 90s.

I think you did her a favour. If I were using a term that was now regarded as offensive, I would want someone to tell me, not shrug it off because I couldn't be expected to know any better.

sonlypuppyfat Mon 10-Oct-16 17:01:02

People are hostile because they feel they are being accused of being racist when all they are doing are using the phrases they used when they were young

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