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To think that this was racist?

(159 Posts)
Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 13:50:45

DH and I visited in laws at the weekend. They'd recorded a rugby match and were watching it. I don't follow rugby, so I'm not sure who else was playing, but I know France was. The camera zoomed in on a French player who was potentially non-white (for the record, I'm not even entirely convinced on this, but he had dark hair and eyes, and a darker complexion than many white people would have). The conversation went as follows:

FIL: I wonder where that guy's from.
DH: Well he's playing for France, so the most likely option is France.
FIL: Well you don't look like that and come from France, usually.
DH: Why do you say that?
FIL: Well, lots of non-French players play for France. They let anyone in. One of their players is called Demba Bamba.
Me: (vaguely recalling hearing this name during a conversation in work) Right, but he's French, isn't he?
FIL: Well not with a name like that.
Me: But this guy on the TV could have been born and raised in France - how do you know he wasn't?
MIL: well, he might have been born and raised there, but looking at him I can tell he's really Arabic.

I didn't want to say too much and the conversation moved on after that, but I felt uncomfortable about it for the rest of the day.

AIBU to think that making trying to make a judgement about this guy by his skin tone (and the other player by his name) is actually racist? I mean, I understand being curious about someone's heritage, but surely bringing up race when it's not relevant does kind of cross a line into racist territory?

caroline161 Tue 19-Mar-19 13:56:11

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

Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 13:57:00

They actually aren't old. Neither of them are at retirement age yet.

Damntheman Tue 19-Mar-19 13:58:00

It's crazy racist. Unfortunately I find most of that generation do actually know better bit many of them just can't be bothered to modulate their thinking and behaviour. It's gross. My FIL has come out with special little nuggets like this too.

JacquesHammer Tue 19-Mar-19 13:58:14

Yes it was racist and no age isn’t any sort of excuse.

Ragnarthe Tue 19-Mar-19 13:58:15

Yes it is

MrPan Tue 19-Mar-19 13:59:03

It won't die out. It will get worse. New unthinking, racists turds are being grown by right wing bastards supported by the Daily Mail, The Sun and notable SM twats.

Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 14:03:29

I thought so. I'm really worried about my DC being around them a lot in case they pick up on this type of casual racism and get the idea that it's ok. Guess I will just have to be extra vigilant.

Sparklesocks Tue 19-Mar-19 14:05:23

yep, ignorant and small minded

PregnantSea Tue 19-Mar-19 14:05:24

I suppose if you were being nice about it you could say he was confusing nationality with ethnicity - because one might guess from another's appearance that they aren't ethnically similar to most others of their nationality. But it was still racist.

I get so bloody sick of this convo: "where are you from?" "Britian" "yeah but where are you REALLY from?". I've started telling people I'm from the moon grin

WeepingWillowWeepingWino Tue 19-Mar-19 14:07:38

they are racist and pig ignorant - France has a huge non-white population, mainly because they had an empire.

Do they understand you can be black and British?

WeepingWillowWeepingWino Tue 19-Mar-19 14:08:05

non-white is a rubbish phrase, sorry!

Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 14:09:03

I'm as white as Daz and from a part of the country where there isn't much racial diversity, but I wouldn't even ask that @PregnantSea! However, I would be really curious if you said you were from the moon! 😂

JacquesHammer Tue 19-Mar-19 14:09:20

It’s very interesting - and telling - that he objected to the guy born in France, but not the ones born in New Zealand...

Buster72 Tue 19-Mar-19 14:09:40

The french rugby team is chock full of people who play in the French leagues for a few years then qualify as "French" ( I think 11 south africans in recent years) and players of morrocan/ Algerian heritage. One Thsakashvili and south sea islanders.
Bamba though was born in St Denis

Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 14:12:02

@WeepingWillowWeepingWino I'm not sure if they believe you can be black and British - most likely not - but my MIL did say she felt uncomfortable recently when she was in hospital and there was a black person on the ward. I did directly say that this was a racist attitude, but she said it wasn't and went on a "why shouldn't I be allowed to have an opinion..." rant.

sonlypuppyfat Tue 19-Mar-19 14:12:05

You felt uncomfortable for the rest of the day?

Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 14:12:52

@Buster72 but you still can't tell by looking at them.

WeepingWillowWeepingWino Tue 19-Mar-19 14:13:22


Do people really still exist with this level of stupidity?

How old are they?

Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 14:14:00

@sonlypuppyfat about the conversation. As in, my mind kept going back to it. Not because I needed to pee, or something.

drspouse Tue 19-Mar-19 14:15:26

Buster if you were born in South Africa and play in France to qualify then I see your point but someone of "morrocan or Algerian heritage" can still be French. The two are not mutually exclusive.

PregnantSea Tue 19-Mar-19 14:16:55

Haha I only say I'm from the moon after i've already tried to explain that I'm British.

Why on earth did your MIL feel uncomfortable about a black person being on the ward at the hospital? Wtf? Didn't think they made them like that anymore... That's really shocking. I'm not surprised you're worried about DC picking up the wrong attitude. I would be too...

Simmerflew Tue 19-Mar-19 14:16:56

They're mid-fifties. Not people you'd call stupid in general, but clearly with huge blind spots. They've always been nice to me, but then... I'm white.

WeepingWillowWeepingWino Tue 19-Mar-19 14:18:31

No, that is stupid, ignorant and racist. No excuses. They are not nice people.

They grew up in a multicultural Britain. There is no excuse. We as a society should not accept excuses.

PBo83 Tue 19-Mar-19 14:20:18

I'll no doubt be flamed for this but I'm not sure if the father-in-law was being 'racist' as-such. It didn't sound like he was insulting the guy, just wondering about his heritage (i.e. where his ancestors where originally from).

I might see someone who has features distinctive to a certain different nationality/race (i.e. not typically Anglo-Saxon). I wouldn't question their 'British' nationality because of this but it's not racist to think 'I wonder what their ethnic background is' (or maybe it is and I'm just an ignorant old fart...who knows!)

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