Originally Posted by OUT!
Is there anything wrong per se with letting them go unchallenged?
Well, there is the chance is somebody beating the shit out of your 10 year old nephew. People who are offended can react unpredictably.
Originally Posted by OUT!
I pose this question b/c I was at a relatives house last week and my sister-in-law kept using the terms "half caste" and "coloured" to refer to bi-racial and black people respectively
Yet as I was with relatives I felt that I should keep my mouth shut and say nothing. But if that wasn't bad enough then my 10 year old nephew used the term coloured too
I guess my questions are - do you let offensive terms go in certain situations or do you make it a point to always challenge them?
Well, what country are you from? What culture are you from? I don't know how offensive those terms would be in your culture/country. I used to challenge that sort of thing all the time, but the reality is, that's a contentious way to spend your life. In a family situation, sometimes dicretion is best. You might pull your brother aside and point out to him that his son could be at some risk if he uses terms like that in public.
If you personally find it offensive, you can say something like 'hey, you're gonna talk how you're gonna talk, but I gotta tell you I find your using terms like that offensive. I have friends who'd fall into those categories and I KNOW they'd be offended."
This too, can be handled by talking to someone privately, rather than having a public confrontation over family dinner.
In a workplace situation, I ususally handle it with a discrete request to HR asking them to remind everyone in general about policy vis-a-vis offensive language.
A lot of the reason we avoid language like that in public places in the USA is that that language reminds everyone of a time when Blacks were not protaected from Whites under the law, and Whites took advantage of that fact to commit a lot of violence against Blacks. (Of course, a lot of Americans look back at that time fondly.) And the USA went through about a decade of 'civil unrest', called 'The Rebellions' or 'The Riots', depending on whose historians you're reading, before the government decided that granting Blacks equal protect under the law was better watching the cities burn.
When I hear people use terms like 'half-caste' (not much used in the northeastern USA) and 'coloured', I tend to examine them carefully, as I may be dealing with someone who like to see Blacks again denied equal rights. Is your sister-in-law such a person? How should I know? But sometimes we temper our language in the interest of everyone 'getting along'.