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Racist neighbour, what should I have done?

(46 Posts)
Sushipaws Mon 05-Jan-09 18:50:10

I'm not best friends with either of my neighbours, we send Christmas cards, have small chit chat in the street. Both sets of neighbours seemed quite friendly and haven't had any major problems since I moved in earlier in the year.

Today I bumped into one neighbour who I chatted to, I brought up the subject of my other neighbours who have just had a beautiful baby girl. She said the baby would cry allot because coloured babies cry more than Normal babies. And that was because the coloureds carry their babies all the time. I told her I hadn't heard her cry at all and I didn't think that was true. I then changed the subject, we had an awkward moment and I left.

I wanted to scream at her, that the baby is not coloured but black and she is Normal. This is also Britain not fucking Ethiopia and I don't think my neighbours carry their baby any more than I do mine. And isn't it proven that babies who are carried more after birth cry less.

But I didn't scream, I disagreed, but rather sheepishly. I just don't want to fall out with my neighbours.

Does that make me as bad, I feel guilty.

memoo Mon 05-Jan-09 18:53:28

Your neighbour is clearly an idiot, You disagreed with her and TBH there wasn't anything else you could have done

wotulookinat Mon 05-Jan-09 18:54:22

Nah, don't worry about it. Those are her (albeit wrong) views, and they needn't affect your relationship with either her or your other neighbours.

onager Mon 05-Jan-09 19:20:07

Relatively harmless. It's not as though she was saying "they should all go back home" etc

Coloured was a perfectly acceptable term at one time (and still is in some places I think) and clearly she wasn't using it to be insulting.
The claim that in some cultures carrying babies more frequently is the norm is probably true. Her assumption that your neighbour would follow that cultural tradition is not terribly sensible though you are assuming she will follow British ones so you're both making assumptions.

nooka Mon 05-Jan-09 19:29:41

I think your response was fine. You said you thought her opinion was not true, and changed the subject. I think the awkward silence says it all really, and she may not raise such prejudiced opinions with you again. Possibly she might even think about why she thought such things, but probably not. Difficult to say with coloured vs black, because many people still use the term coloured without particular meaning, just carelessness I think. I guess you could have said that black is the preferred term, although really the race of the baby was totally irrelevant. If I were in your position I would try and avoid future conversations with her, but that's not always the best way to preserve neighbourly relations. Sadly I think she probably expected you to say something derogatory about the family based on their race in response to her comments.

scrooged Mon 05-Jan-09 19:31:43

She appears more ignorant then racist. Opinions like this are often because the person doesn't understand or take the effort to learn about other people. Ignorant.

nooka Mon 05-Jan-09 19:31:58

I don't see that Sushi has made any assumptions about her neighbours carrying or non baby carrying habits tbh.

MsG Mon 05-Jan-09 19:32:43

I think you acted well - well done for disagreeing with her, it can be hard in those kinds of situations.

PS I know people who still will say "coloured" - mainly older people.

Divineintervention Mon 05-Jan-09 19:32:59

How old is your neighbour?

Doodle2U Mon 05-Jan-09 19:33:34

Blimey, you did well to handle it so subtley. I would have jumped in and blasted her. I, however, have a theory. If you don't challenge racism but merely 'let it go', then you are effectively complicit in it's continuation.

LittleBella Mon 05-Jan-09 19:34:16

Oh she's obviously thick

Desiderata Mon 05-Jan-09 19:39:50

That's a bit weighty, Doodle!

Some black people may have dyed-in-the-wool ideas about how whites bring up babies, too. Not racist .. just a bit daft and pointless, really.

Doodle2U Mon 05-Jan-09 19:42:22

Desi, I would agree with you except the woman referred to the "coloured baby crying more than normal babies, therefore, the implication is that anything other than white babies are not normal. Racist.

Sushipaws Mon 05-Jan-09 19:44:47

I shouldv'e explained it wasn't just what she said but the way she said it with disgust and the look on her face as though she'd licked a lemon.

It's a fair point, my neighbours may well have cultural influences, I don't know them that well but they do have visitors who wear traditional African dress. I just believe that bracketing people by colour and insinuating that all black people carry their babies all the time is beyond ignorant.

The thing that irked me the most was the Normal babies, like black babies were not normal.

I have very strong views on racism, there was allot of it in my family and in the small town I grew up in. I'd always thought that faced with racist situations I'd be stronger. I gave some kids outside my local shop a firm telling off for using the 'P' word to describe the shop owner a few months ago.

I think I'll try and avoid the offending neighbour and keep chit chat to a minimum.

Sushipaws Mon 05-Jan-09 19:46:02

cross post doodle, I agree, thats why I'm feeling bad that I didn't shout.

Desiderata Mon 05-Jan-09 19:48:17

Umm, I did miss that rather salient point grin

OK, that does sound a bit wrong. Had she not made that peculiar distinction, I would have shrugged it off as a piss-poor comment, but nothing serious.

For instance, I've often noticed that Indian babies and toddlers are much more placid than either black or white babies. It may not be true, of course, but it's an observation I have made.

I wonder if that would sound racist to a casual observer? I really don't know ..

Doodle2U Mon 05-Jan-09 19:48:52

Oh no - you mustn't shout. You lose miles of ground when you shout! I think you extracted yourself as well as anyone, so don't feel guilt. I was just saying, basically I'm gobby and would have challenged her on it and bugger to keeping friends with the neighbours!

FAQtothefuture Mon 05-Jan-09 19:50:25

was going to suggest (with reference to the use of "Coloured" and the african visitors) that perhaps she was Southern African (where Coloured is an officialy recognised term for Mixed Race people) and therefore not actually being ignorant/offensive on purpose - but then I noticed that you said that baby is black, not mixed race so that rules that out - so yes I'd say racist.

I think you did the right thing. Very difficult when it's someone you have to live next door to.

RaspberryBlower Mon 05-Jan-09 20:03:20

I don't think you should feel guilty, because you did sort of disagree with her, or at the very least you didn't let her think you were agreeing with her anyway. If she says anything like that again, you will probably say something to challenge her because you've been thinking about it and discussing it on here. I once caused a scene at MIL's house by (pissed) shouting at dh's uncle to stop telling racist jokes or I would leave. This wasn't the way to go about things because they just thought I was a mad stroppy cow. Although he's never said anything racist to me since now I think of it!

whonickedmynickname Mon 05-Jan-09 20:13:07

shitty situation for you - you want to tell her shes a rascist ignorant unwelcome pest to society and yet you have to live next door to her. Your reaction was spot on IMO

DandyLioness Mon 05-Jan-09 20:14:29

Message withdrawn

noonki Mon 05-Jan-09 20:34:07

It is very difficult when people are racist like that. My neighbours are similar, an old couple who made comments about our new sikh neighbours (who I am good friends with now).

After a couple of slightly daily mail, 'quite a few people living there' .()..err actually they are just friends visiting) hmm do they speak english?(probably better than you love) style comments by the old couple I ended up doing a rant about how a made up senario I had with a woman in a shop blush

It went along the lines of:

Can you believe how pathetic some people are that they still hold such racist views as X Y and Z. (pretty much what they had said to me)

It was a total cop out , but given that we all have to live in the same street I feel I made my position very clear and they have never raised the issue again.

I think dandy's suggestion is what I wish I had done in retrospect.

coolma Mon 05-Jan-09 20:46:12

Reminds me of when we moved to our house 9 years ago - our 'socially spiraling' neighbours who have four cars, 2 front doors and the most hideously landscaped garden you can imagine - said they were pleased we seemed normal because 'if a black family had moved in, we would have had to have moved away. Oh we're not racist, but they have all those children don't they?' Incredible

Crimboprocta Mon 05-Jan-09 20:53:48

I despise the term coloured. I don't care how old you are, it's so ignorant and wrong. I also hate when people are referred to as 'whites', 'blacks', etc.

I hate that around our area, white people will assume that we, since we are also white, are automatically racist and will want to hear their bile. It seems similar to the OP's experience.

Funniest comment though came from our bat-shit crazy elderly neighbour. She asked if we'd heard about the conjoined twins Faith and Hope. She said it was odd as those type of babies were usually born to 'coloureds' hmm

chipmonkey Mon 05-Jan-09 20:54:38

Myy IL's often come out with crap like that and I have had massive arguments with them in the past but now just tend to walk out of the room seething because nothing I say has ever made a difference and I really think they like thinking the way they do.

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