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Jude's avatar

Why would someone think it's ok to call a black person 'colored' in this day and age?

Asked by Jude (32144points) December 22nd, 2011

I was getting into it with some girl in the U.K. where she felt as though it was okay to call a black person “colored”.

My friend is from the U.K. and asked this question:

“I’m opening this up to everyone. Is calling a black person ‘coloured’ ok? Or is it a throwback to 1970s sitcoms, brimming with political incorrectness?”

Her one friend’s response: I think it’s ironic, since white people go more colours than our african caribbean friends. You choke us, we turn blue. You scare us, we turn white. We smoke too much ganja, we turn green. You embarrass us, we turn red. We stay out in the sun too long, we turn red. We’re like the rainbow race. End of the day, race shouldn’t come into it. Point blank. Doesn’t matter where you’re from.

I didn’t read through the 70 something posts, but, I said that over here in N. America calling a black person “colored” wouldn’t fly. She didn’t get it and argued with me about it.


I am really sick and not in my right mind, but, is this woman retarded? It’s all fucking puppies and rainbows to her.

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28 Answers

tedd's avatar

It wouldn’t fly over here, as a bunch of different phrases wouldn’t.

But at the end of the day words are all just what you make of them. Who cares if she calls you colored, and in her life/society/whatever it’s not derogatory. Who cares if it is derogatory to her even?

If all it takes to legitimately damage your self perception and self esteem is someone using a word that may or may not be derogatory in nature to them… then you are in for a long life my friend.

I say brush it off. If they did say it to be derogatory, they’ll learn that simple insults aren’t going to put you down. And if they didn’t mean it to be derogatory, then who really cares?

Sticks and stones.

Michael_Huntington's avatar

Wow. Color blind, derailing and trying to be funny. She needs a swift kick to her solar plexus.

elbanditoroso's avatar

This is a tough one.

In the US now (2011) the politically correct way to speak of non-whites is “people of color”. But that includes blacks, Hispanics, some Asians, mixed-race, Africans, etc.. It’s sort of a generic term meaning “non-Caucasian”.

But if you turn it around and say “colored people” (as opposed to ‘people of color’) then it is seen as referring the blacks, and primarily pre-1960 integration black culture in the USA.

In the US today, calling a person a ‘colored person’ would be considered offensive.

Some of us who are old enough remember all of these variations:
Colored people
African American
Afro American
and now, people of color.

The bottom line is that it doesn’t really matter what is said – someone will take offense no matter what.

marinelife's avatar

Since blacks themselves do not like the term, it is not OK to call them that. It has bad connotations from bad times.

Jude's avatar

@marinelife That’s what I said.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Sidetrack! My classroom of 10 is made up of equal amounts of black, Hispanic and white guys. One of my favorite students, my “baby” is Milo. He’s only 20, black, and has a 70’s throw back Afro. He’s just one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. A couple of weeks ago, at the end of class, as the students were putting computers away, they started gathering around my desk, talking and laughing and getting louder and LOUDER and LOUDER as I’m trying to hand out assignments and give last minute directions. Milo looked over the crowed, and after a moment he leaned down and whispered conspiratorially “There’s just too many colored people in here!” and nodded his head, eyes wide, to convey “And that’s the truth!” I laughed so hard I couldn’t pick my head up off my desk!

I love my job. : )

Jude's avatar

Just wanted to say, all that I said to her was that it wouldn’t fly. I live an hour from Detroit and try saying “colored” to an African American person there.

judochop's avatar

I think it is silly to how sensitive people have become to labels. I can see not throwing the terms around loosely, that is just asinine, for any race.
I personally dislike the term, white and black…You don’t call Asian people yellow? You would not say, that yellow person over there has on some cool shoes or, that red guy over there has a really cool bag….? Casper, Nigger, RedMan, Chink, Jap, Colored, Uncle Tom, Whitey, Slant Eye, Sand Nigger, Towel Head, Porch Monkey. Cracker….All of it is wrong. Why do people feel the need to label a person in their story at all?
If you are telling a story and you are a white person and you are talking about someone else that no one knows, you don’t say, that white chick or that white guy so why do people feel the need to say, Oh he is black or she is Asian?
It’s just a person. When they bleed it is red, just like everyone else. Inside, we are all the same. Not to get all sappy because the segregation will always be there by choice but really…..In the name of science. My heart beats just like anyone else’s. There is no name calling when you are just a pile of dust or guts. We all look the same.

Jude's avatar

@judochop I agree with you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@judochop I apprecite what you’re saying, and if it’s a general story I don’t give a color to a person (unless it is relevant, as in my story above.) However, if I’m trying to describe a person physically, or trying to pick them out in a crowd, I’ll note the fact that they are black, white, Asian, whatever.

I read a Life in These U.S. story in the Reader’s Digest once, supposedly true. Husband sent wife to the airport to pick a friend that he had recently served with in the armed forces, whom she’d never met. The two spent 10 minutes trying to find each other, and when they finally did the wife said, “You know, if my husband had told me you were black, that would have helped!”
The guy said, “Yeah. And if he’d told me you were 9 months pregnant that would have helped too!”

I don’t see anything inherently racist about describing someone’s physical features.

Blackberry's avatar

Meh, she’s an idiot. Let her say it so she can be corrected by the general public.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Take her to Alabama and drop her off!

CWOTUS's avatar

I think you should just relax, take a deep breath, then step outside and have a fag.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Words have only that power over you which you grant.

cazzie's avatar

One of the best come backs I heard for that comment was in a movie where a judge in a court of law refered to someone as being ‘coloured’. She looked right at him and said, ‘I’m certainly NOT coloured. I was born this way.’ and then was escorted out of the courtroom mumbling… ‘Nobody coloured ME!’

I spent many years in the Pacific and many Polynesian people refer to themselves as brown, not black. Never EVER would I refer to someone as ‘coloured’, because no body coloured them. That is how they were born.

ragingloli's avatar

I actually find the term “black” a lot more offensive than “coloured”.
Even the NAACP says that “coloured” is not offensive.

fizzbanger's avatar

I work with a guy that gets offended if you call him black. He insists on being called “African-American” or “a person of color”, which is not all that different from “colored”, I suppose. Different people get offended by different things.

Also, wouldn’t it, in this case, be “coloured”?

Facade's avatar

Well, people are really stupid, so I wouldn’t rule out the use of “colored.”

JLeslie's avatar

Not too long ago a woman used colored, and did not realize she had said anything wrong. I cannot remember the specific situation. She was from the southern part of the US, and maybe people in her family still use the term. I think she did not have any malintent, so she was ocnfused why she received such hostility from people. Moreover, it is acceptable still to use the phrase people of color and I think that confuses people.

Since black people find colored offensive, obviously we should not use it. It is understandable since the term was being used during a time when there was still a lot of racism in the US. Now, whether to use black or African American, that is a whole other subject we won’t bother to tackle on this Q. Also, I remember a Q about using Asian vs. Oriental, and the British jellies on the Q thought it was ridiculous Oriental was perceived as derogatory or insensitive, so these things matter by country I am sure.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie Well said. Simply enough, if someone finds something offensive one should have the grace and courtesy to avoid doing or saying whatever it is.

Blackberry's avatar

@Facade This is where we say “Fuckin’ Pwned!”. Lol.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Blackberry I FIND THE F WORD OFFENSIVE!!!! Hmmmm???

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’m in England and, whilst I have heard the older generations use the term “coloured”, I have never heard the younger generations use it. This girl sounds like an idiot and I wouldn’t be wasting my time with her. She is obviously ignorant and doesn’t want to be educated.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Here’s what bugs the hell out of me – why do people think that saying nigger or faggot or colored is ‘politically incorrect’? it’s just incorrect and not saying those words doesn’t make you politically correct, by makes you possibly a decent human being with half a brain.

CaptainHarley's avatar


Exactly. The real issue here is, “What’s the kindest thing you can do?” If I know that calling someone a particular name is hurtful, why, as a reasonably kind human being would I want to call them that?

Blackberry's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir Never thought about that, but makes total sense. Saying those words are politically incorrect assumes that people want to use the words, but don’t because they’re deciding to have some class at that particular moment. I have no problem with people questioning this, but who still says these words in 2011 anyway?

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