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to think this woman is racist and/or mad?

(46 Posts)
babybarrister Tue 21-Jul-09 14:48:19

picture the scene - in hospital [short op] on a small 6 person ward. 2 of other patients black. majority of excellent nursing staff also black and in and out of ward. I am commenting to 70 something woman in next bed how wonderful these nurses are compared to my last experience when afer a C section breakfast left out of reach, etc, etc. woman says loudly "was the nurse black?" . me stunned -" cannot remember" [though now I have fully come round perhaps I should have said something else ....

is she racist? mad? both? a woman of a certain age? has she no sense of the sensibilities of the other patients/nurses?!

crazylizzy Tue 21-Jul-09 14:50:23

I think it's her age/generation. My MIL is just the same, although slightly more obnoxious about it hmm

Try to let it go, as much as it stings blush

you Tue 21-Jul-09 14:54:48

I'm not sure.

She doesn't sound particularly racist to me. Hmm.

Morloth Tue 21-Jul-09 14:57:16

I think you should probably cut her some slack if you were coming around from an anaesthetic whats to say she wasn't? People say some crazy shit when there are drugs involved!

mosschops30 Tue 21-Jul-09 14:59:30

Sorry are you asking if shes racist because she asked if the nurse was black?

daisydora Tue 21-Jul-09 15:03:12

I don't think the comment itself is racist.

I do think that generation though do comment on things that others would think are racist when they don't mean to be, e.g my Gandad. I have tried to explain that what he says is racist, but doesn't get it as he's not a racist in his eyes iyswim

MovingOutOfBlighty Tue 21-Jul-09 15:04:47

Apparently people ask after me at work by describing me as 'the short one with an accent.'

My height, or lack of, is an identifying feature. I accepted long ago that it is just the way it is (BTW, I am only 1 inch off officially being classified a midget!)
She may have been tactless but wouldn't be too worried about it.

mosschops30 Tue 21-Jul-09 15:16:14

Is it not like saying 'is she blonde'? Im sorry for being stupid but I just dont get this thread, maybe im missing something

Jux Tue 21-Jul-09 15:21:57

My mum always found the black nurses to be much more aware of patients as people and therefore more able to avoid doing things like leaving breakfast out of reach. She worked in the NHS from about 1944 and retired in the 80s.

I think it's a generational thing.

DSM Tue 21-Jul-09 15:22:50

hmm

mayorquimby Tue 21-Jul-09 16:17:07

perhaps she'd had a wonderful nurse attend to her during her stay at the hospital who was black anbd was wondering if it was the same person.
asking if someone was black isn't racist.

tootyflooty Tue 21-Jul-09 16:23:59

I think we are all too much aware of saying the correct thing, I have to admit if I am trying to identify someone to a friend, I would probably use the fact they are black as the last point of referance for just that reason, but it is correct to say that it is no different to pointing out glasses, hair colour etc , it is pc gone mad, we make problems like this for ourselves for fear of looking like a racist.

bruffin Tue 21-Jul-09 16:26:15

Is it not like saying 'is she blonde'? Im sorry for being stupid but I just dont get this thread, maybe im missing something

There is a certain mentality on mumsnet that think they get brownie points for spotting racism.

hercules1 Tue 21-Jul-09 16:26:29

I don't get it. WHere was the racist/mad bit?

FAQtothefuture Tue 21-Jul-09 16:28:13

ermm no sounds like she was using it as a basic description.

sometimes honestly it is easier to idenitify who someone is by their skin colour.

As DS2's sports day "oh which one's his dad then"

was much easier to say "the tall black one over there" than, oh the tall one with white t-shirt (cut it down to about 10 of them), blue jeans (that's down to 5), and black trainers - ahh that must be him.

Momdeguerre Tue 21-Jul-09 16:28:13

Did she say something else after that or was it just that question?

I don't perceive that alone to be racist? Just a stupid question.

Not sure the older generation are a sensitive o the crazed political correctness of our generation where you are unable to refer to any personal characteristic of any person without it being an ism - that said - I am probably being ageist. . .

mayorquimby Tue 21-Jul-09 16:35:16

tootyflooty i know exactly what you're saying, and isn't it ridiculous that people without a racist thought in their heads just perhaps not used to discussing race will so obviously just try to avoid any mention of race?
and go in a round about of describing someone who may be the only black person in a group when trying to remember their name or something as tall,brown hair,slim etc rather than just saying the easiest thing of "oh what was the black guys name again?"

limonchik Tue 21-Jul-09 16:38:56

I don't see how just asking if she is black is racist - you yourself just said that the excellent nurses on your ward were black.

MissyBellatrix Tue 21-Jul-09 16:51:10

I think it was somewhat racist.

The OP was describing a previous incident where the story did not reflect well on the nurse in question. The lady's response is "Was the nurse black?".

It's not like she was trying to identify the nurse in question because it was a different time/place/operation where she couldn't possibly have known the nurse in question.

The lady was instead drawing a negative correlation between bad nursing and black nurses.

It's not the same as asking if the nurse was blonde, although it is as irrelevant.

However it isn't a big issue. I would have replied: "Didn't notice - why?"

SJisontheway Tue 21-Jul-09 17:02:34

Ah - I see. Originally I thought she was asking if one of the nice nurses where you both were was black. Now I see that she was asking if the incompetent nurse during your previous stay was black. Agree with MissyBellatrix that it was racist.

edam Tue 21-Jul-09 17:05:27

Maybe she meant 'White nurses are crap, if it was a Black nurse who treated you badly I'd be really surprised?'

limonchik Tue 21-Jul-09 17:12:06

"Maybe she meant 'White nurses are crap, if it was a Black nurse who treated you badly I'd be really surprised?'"

That was my first thought too edam - especially since the OP said the excellent nurses during her current stay are black. Still racist though I guess!

melpomene Tue 21-Jul-09 17:25:35

Agree with MissyBellatrix. I come across a similar thing at my work. I'm an adviser and sometimes clients tell me about how they've had a bad experience with a doctor or similar professional and they'll say something like "Then I saw this doctor who was no good at all. He was black. He did xyz." I've NEVER heard a client comment in a similar way that a doctor was white.

It can be difficult to challenge because it's not exactly overtly racist, but there is a racist subtext when people are keen to point out that someone they've had a negative experience with was black and it's not relevant to identifying the person or describing the situation.

Upwind Tue 21-Jul-09 17:35:48

""Then I saw this doctor who was no good at all. He was black. He did xyz." I've NEVER heard a client comment in a similar way that a doctor was white.

If most English doctors are white, their skin colour is a distinguishing feature. Like red hair, or a bow tie, or being very tall.

Nobody says - "she was average height and did xyz" because then her height is not remarkable.

Upwind Tue 21-Jul-09 17:38:17

If most English doctors are white, their <darker> skin colour is a distinguishing feature.

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