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Am I still racist?

(281 Posts)
iwant2know Thu 08-Feb-18 22:52:53

When I was young using certain words was very common, words like using the p word for a newsagent owned by Asians and the c word for a Chinese takeaway. I don't remember using the n word but did use the word coloured.

I also remember the shame when the use of these words was pointed out by a teacher in p7. That these words were racist and hurtful. I can't specifically remember using them again.

I was talking to a friend about the local MP who used the p and c words at a Burns Supper and who had been made to apologise.

My friend thought it was much about nothing and not racist as everyone used to use those words. She said she still calls Chinese takeaway the c word.

I said that we know better now that they are wrong and are offensive. I said she shouldn't use the c word as it is racist. She said I was also racist as I used them as a child.

Is she right? I wouldn't use that language now and don't see myself as racist but I was. Aibu to think you can change or once a racist always a racist?

Queenoftheblitz Thu 08-Feb-18 22:59:15

Doesn't sound like you were ever racist. You used words in common use within your environment. I was raised to use the word "half caste" and I am mixed race.
You stopped using those words and so did I.

psychomath Thu 08-Feb-18 23:04:03

I don't think it was racist at all to use those words when you were a child and (presumably) had no idea that they would offend anyone.

AmICuteOrWhat Thu 08-Feb-18 23:13:48

Is there not a difference between using the C word for a Chinese takeaway though and using it for a Chinese person? The latter would be definitely racist, but am not sure about the former?

Cheekyandfreaky Thu 08-Feb-18 23:15:10

@AmICuteOrWhat yes it is racist. HTH.

Summerisdone Thu 08-Feb-18 23:15:50

Racist people tend to be ignorant people, you were just uneducated at the time and didn’t know any better. You have since learnt different and now sounds like you would never dream of using such derogatory words. People can learn and grow, and therefore change, so long as you’re able to acknowledge the changes and are not trying to pretend you’ve never been the person you once were (which of course you’re not doing).

If it makes you feel better, I used the very same words as yourself when I was a child/early teen, as I honestly didn’t know any better, because they were so commonly used and never in a way that appeared to be meant as an insult. I would not once dream of using such derogatory words now or ever again so I would not consider myself to be racist.

Lucymek Thu 08-Feb-18 23:18:21

I think the names are just words. If you treat somebody different due to the colour of their skin or beliefs that in my eyes is racist.

Sparklesocks Thu 08-Feb-18 23:22:41

I don’t think you were racist as such as you didn’t understand the weight of the words you were using and the harm behind them.

Your friend though, who is older and wiser and understands their meaning and still throws them around casually? Yeah, not sure i could continue my association...

5foot5 Thu 08-Feb-18 23:23:50

Of course it doesn't make you racist.

As a child you just used the words everybody around you used and didn't know any better. When you were old enough to think for yourself you stopped.

And BTW, when I was a child "coloured" was considered to be the correct and polite term. I remember one girl in our class at primary school using the n word and the teacher went mad at her and said that we should say coloured. This would be about 1969.

heartyrebel Thu 08-Feb-18 23:25:46

What's the c word?? Chinese takeaway? How is that racist?

Cheekyandfreaky Thu 08-Feb-18 23:27:08

@Lucymek completely disagree. Language matters. I don’t think that the OP is racist- there’s an acknowledgment that the language is offensive and therefore no longer used. I think sometimes people don’t understand that language is offensive, but when you know, you know, so to continue to use it ‘innocently’ isn’t a thing. For example, my DH pointed out that my use of the phrase ‘nitty gritty’ actually has origins in derogatory language as it relates to slavery. If I ever went to use it again, I would stop as I realised it was offensive. Language matters in my opinion.

JustOneMoreStep Thu 08-Feb-18 23:27:53

Racism is a politically correct minefield, and many things that are said and then accused/declared as being racist actually aren't. To be racist you would need to be describing a person in a derogatory way that is intended to cause offense based on the ethnicity of a person. It is the intention that makes a person racist, not necessarily actual words/language used. To describe an individual who originated from Pakistan as being 'a p word' isn't racist in and of itself, but it IS racist if your intention of using the word is actually oh stay away from those awful people because they are foreign and we might catch something foe example........Likewise it is not racist to describe a person as being black, white or coloured it's an observation, but if you are making a sweeping observation of black people that might be racist.

If we then consider that racism is actually about intent and not necessarily the language itself, as a child you were no more racist than you are now, assuming at the time you weren't intending of causing offense.

jeremyk Thu 08-Feb-18 23:28:38

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

babyccinoo Thu 08-Feb-18 23:29:06

I think the names are just words. If you treat somebody different due to the colour of their skin or beliefs that in my eyes is racist.

Lucymek you are a racist.

ElderflowerWaterIsDelish Thu 08-Feb-18 23:30:23

You weren't racist, you were using words that you thought were ok to use as a child, you didn't use them maliciously or to deliberately hurt anyone, and as an adult you have realised the words are no longer appropriate in today's society and you have chosen not to use them...

You are not racist, a racist is someone who would continue to use those words, you sound like a caring genuine human being who is making an effort not to hurt others

Zintox Thu 08-Feb-18 23:30:43

Heartyrebel the word is chinky

Cheekyandfreaky Thu 08-Feb-18 23:32:22

@JustOneMoreStep no way. Yes intent matters but so does language and our reaction to it as a society. I find racist words offensive, racism is about offense but not about if you intend to offend but if someone is offended by it.

From the Citizens Advice Bureau:

“Something is a racist or religious hate incident if the victim or anyone else thinks it was carried out because of hostility or prejudice based on race or religion.

This means that if you believe something is a hate incident, it should be recorded as such by the person you are reporting it to.”

Nothing about the perpetrator all about the victim or anyone else.

IsItOKToPanic Thu 08-Feb-18 23:34:44

When DP and I talk to ourselves we refer to certain ethnicities as the 'p word' or 'c word' as it's the term we grew up with and what was used in our environment.

Of course we would never say this to others or let anyone hear this as it could cause offence which we wouldn't want to do.

I don't believe we're racist in the slightest.

shouldaknownbetter Thu 08-Feb-18 23:36:18

I always thought chinky was a combo of chinese and chippy
Cos we had a chinese takewaway that also was a chippy when I was young and that's what my brother's called it.

Didn't realise it was like the word 'chink'

Worldsworstcook Thu 08-Feb-18 23:36:50

She's deflecting your criticism back onto you.

Ignore her. She's probably stinging at being called out.

shouldaknownbetter Thu 08-Feb-18 23:38:36

After several campaigns by the Scottish Executive, more people in Scotland now acknowledge that this name is indirectly racist.[3] However, the Broadcasting Standards Commission held in 2002, after a complaint about the BBC One programme The Vicar of Dibley, that when used as the name of a type of restaurant or meal, rather than as an adjective applied to a person or group of people, the word carries no racist connotation.

shouldaknownbetter Thu 08-Feb-18 23:39:39

So the Broadcasting standards commision say the word isn't racist (when used to refer to a restaurant or meal)

Greensleeves Thu 08-Feb-18 23:40:27

IsItOKToPanic...that's really wrong, I'm afraid. It's completely indefensible and you should make an effort to stop doing it.

babyccinoo Thu 08-Feb-18 23:41:15

When DP and I talk to ourselves we refer to certain ethnicities as the 'p word' or 'c word' as it's the term we grew up with and what was used in our environment.

Some weirdo racists crawling through the woodwork tonight.

Of course we would never say this to others or let anyone hear this as it could cause offence which we wouldn't want to do.

And yet it's ok to think and refer to people as Pakis and Chinkies privately. Truly repulsive.

I don't believe we're racist in the slightest.

Yes, you are. And cowards too. You can't bear to type Pakis and Chinkies and say 'p' and 'c' here, but those words roll off your tongue happily enough at home hmm

Cheekyandfreaky Thu 08-Feb-18 23:41:21

@IsItOKToPanic lol okay. Yes you are. I think how we talk about other people says a lot about who we are. If you wouldn’t use language like that in front of other people because it would offend, why use it in private? Why use it at all? Do you routinely need to refer to people like that? When does it come up?

‘You know x from work?’
‘The ‘racist word’/ lady who sits next to me/ the admin guy etc’

Why the racist term?

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