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not to know if "brown sugar" is offensive.

342 replies

Charis1 · 20/08/2015 23:11

I am taking some gifts from work colleagues to a friend in hospital tomorrow. We had a collection, and one person bought the gifts from us all. We have some nice toiletries and things, but are in a toiletry bag with a picture of a teddy on it and the caption "brown sugar". I thought that term sometimes used in a racist context, so am reluctant to hand this over. but not sure if I am being paranoid and overly politically correct.

Please help!

OP posts:
NeedAScarfForMyGiraffe · 21/08/2015 00:18

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Theycallmemellowjello · 21/08/2015 00:18

Personally I wouldn't give a bag with this slogan on it - there's definitely scope for it to seem offensive. I'd get a new one.

ReginaBlitz · 21/08/2015 00:24

Mi I have loads of vintage ones Smile

Millliii · 21/08/2015 00:28

Reg me too. My collection goes back to the 60s. I loved marmalade for that reason but love it just for the taste now.

ReginaBlitz · 21/08/2015 00:32

Mi I have the robertsons jug and little pots as well some of My gollies are really old my kids love them too.

ChristineDePisan · 21/08/2015 00:32

I wouldn't give her the bag, sorry

manicinsomniac · 21/08/2015 00:35

what?! It would never in a million years have occurred to me that there were any problematic connotations to Brown Sugar.

It was the name of my favourite café at university. Probably went there every week for 4 years. As did half the student population. It's closed down now. Wonder if this is why!!

SanityClause · 21/08/2015 00:41

I agree, Charis, that brown sugar is a racist term, and that you are right in exchanging the bag for a more suitable one.

ReginaBlitz · 21/08/2015 00:43

Sorry this really is a bit silly it is not racist! There is a song called brown sugar by d'Angelo and he is black Ffs.

OutToGetYou · 21/08/2015 00:45

I think it has racial, if not necessarily racist, connotations. It was used in a derogatory way in The Big Bang Theory I was watching today, to the black HR woman, and it was clear it was meant to be inappropriate.
It's actually a bit sexist too really. I mean, it refers to an attractive black woman.

I wouldn't give it to someone.

Baconyum · 21/08/2015 00:50

Historically it was a way of asking for a non white prostitute so I would replace.

As for D'Angelo using it bear in mind the movement to reclaim eg the n word by many artists of African/african american origin so the use in music can be ironic/sarcastic.

SenecaFalls · 21/08/2015 00:53

OP, I'm American and I know some of these things resonate differently in the US, but when I saw your OP, I immediately thought the reference was to a black woman. I would definitely get a substitute; your friend may well know of the possible racist connotations and be offended.

Dismaland · 21/08/2015 00:53

I wouldn't give the bag, it looks a bit dodgy. Swap for nicer/more neutral and don't give that colleague the task of buying presents in future, obviously has weird taste!

SaucyJack · 21/08/2015 00:55

Yes, get a nice classy new one. Even without the racist undertones, it's possibly not something a grown woman would be delighted to receive tbf.

exoticjuicedrink · 21/08/2015 00:58

Im sure I received one of those teddies as a gift a few years back. I didn't think anything at the time. I would just presume that brown sugar was the brand make/ teddies name?

exoticjuicedrink · 21/08/2015 01:02

Oh and I agree with saucyjack above- I don't find it offensive but I wouldn't particularly like a make up bag with a bear on (as an adult). Primark/boots/superdrug can do lovely, inexpensive make up bags.

Charis1 · 21/08/2015 01:05

Historically it was a way of asking for a non white prostitute so I would replace.

wow! I didn't know that! I am definitely replacing it. Also makes it very easy to explain to my work colleague why it isn't appropriate.

OP posts:
SanityClause · 21/08/2015 01:06

Just for clarity, the words "brown sugar" are perfectly inoffensive, when relating to the foodstuff.

They are potentially offensive, if referring to a black person, or possibly an Asian person.

Why would you want to risk offending someone, when you could so easily avoid it?

(This post is not to the OP, who has already said she will change the bag. She obviously gets it. Some other posters don't seem to.)

NameChangeNameyNameChange · 21/08/2015 01:50

I immediately assumed the thread would be about a black woman, and I'm also with SaucyJack on it being a bit juvenile even if it doesn't offend her for the reason expected. OP, you're absolutely right to be concerned about how it would go down, and if I were you I wouldn't worry about the feelings of the person who chose it - even if no one's going to confront them about their choice, I don't think this is a situation where the buyer's feelings deserve sparing.

Garrick · 21/08/2015 02:01

I'd replace the bag, too, Charis. Especially as your friend is BME. She may well have heard the term used about herself.

We'll assume the purchaser just thought it was a sweet teddy, being gloriously innocent of racist, sexist, drug-related slang. Nonetheless, the bag sounds a bit tacky!

There's always a bloody golliwog post, isn't there.

Bulbasaur · 21/08/2015 02:17

Well, it's not offensive here in the US anymore than referring to a black guy as dark chocolate. It's sort of a term of endearment, like shorty is. But UK has a bunch of different rules about what's PC and what's not.

I don't think in context of the bear, it will be seen as bad. But you can never be too careful with work situations.

SenecaFalls · 21/08/2015 02:28

Bulbasaur In the US it often is a way of referring to having sex with or preferring sex with a black woman. Many people do find this usage racist. And sexist.

Fauchelevent · 21/08/2015 02:34

I'm black, wouldn't have really made the connection to be honest but it's not a term I've ever heard used. If you have concerns, replace it. People mock being on the safe side and trying not to be offensive, but I'd rather someone excessively try not to offend than have to explain to someone for the millionth time why I didn't appreciate them calling me darkie, for example.

Also, saying "black person" is not offensive Milliii. Just say black person, it's the preferred and used term! Never "coloured"!!

Garrick · 21/08/2015 02:44

Which foods do people call you, Bulbasaur?

Also, are 'fatty' and 'limpy' terms of endearment like 'shorty'?

1Q84 · 21/08/2015 02:54

If it's the name of the brand I don't think there is an issue but if it is a statement on the bag otherwise unrelated to anything then I think it can only be taken as referring to the user of the bag and I would avoid it. If that makes sense.

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