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View Full Version : Is the term 'Coloured' Offensive?


bergkamp2004
May 8th, 2005, 11:48 PM
From studying the issue of race at university as part of my history degree i came across racial terms which are now seen as outdated.

In descrbing someones appearance i believe that the term 'coloured' is extremely offensive. The term seems to encourage the idea of white supremacy where the white people are looking downon their 'coloured' counterparts. This is beacuse it drags up images of colonialism where non whites were referred to as coloured in an inferior manner. In the usa i believe that the term is regarded as outdated as it relates to when black slaves were treated as inferiors and regarded as coloured in the 19th century.

I think that society has moved on enough to accept that certain people are black, brown, white etc.

For example when asked to describe who you met at work today, if someone replied 'oh i met 5 coloured people today.' This would not be very helpful as it could mean that you met any person who was non white. if someone said they met an extremely nice brown lady from wherever it would be much easier.

What do you people think about the use of the word coloured in relation to race?

bergkamp2004
May 9th, 2005, 12:44 AM
im only asking as i still hear people today use the term to describe black and brown people.
The people i hear dont say it in a racist way but in ignorance.

They have not interacted with non-white people before and i try to explain to them that the term is offensive.
i brown myself and it annoy me when people use it - i just wnated to know if i was in the minority who though it was offensive or whether it was a widespread thing that people believed it was outdated.

alexusjonesfan
May 9th, 2005, 12:47 AM
OAZIZ R0X0RZ!!!!!

for the thread, I think ppl in North America find it offensive but in some places like S.Africa it's a taxonomic term. Coloured=bi-racial

RVD
May 9th, 2005, 01:03 AM
I much prefer 'man' or 'woman' of color. I find it more respectful IF a person must be defined as something other than white. :shrug: Either way, you're still treading on shaky ground. :lol:

The word 'coloured' was used at a a not so wonderful time in American history. So yeah, it's VERY offensive here in the states. But then again, it isn't the worst. Actually, many old-timers from an era past still use that term, to their detriment.

Cariaoke
May 9th, 2005, 01:17 AM
Colored was widely used as late as the 70's in the USA. So, that would be the 20th century. :)

But, OP, you would be right and saying most people, at least most American blacks, would find that very offensive.

For one, Jim Crow laws had Colored and White distinctions from drinking fountains to restrooms, from schools to neighborhoods. So, people that would find "colored" offensive would equate it to a time of second class citizenry.

Secondly, to ME, colored implies "other". That white is the norm and colored means outside the box of normal. One could also take it to mean that black, brown, yellow and red people have no identity. They're simply filled in using a crayon.

But I think the first reason for offense is usually why it's offensive. That's how the term African-American came about. White people decided what to call blacks since they were brought over here and African-American was the first time blacks, themselves, decided what they were called. The terms ******, nigra, negro, colored and black were all coined by the dominant culture, read enslavers. I assume terms like Afro-Cuban, etc. were coined by those in that population.

Grand Phantasm
May 9th, 2005, 01:22 AM
OAZIZ R0X0RZ!!!!!

for the thread, I think ppl in North America find it offensive but in some places like S.Africa it's a taxonomic term. Coloured=bi-racial

Um yeah I am South African and we say colored :lol: cause yeah it's bi-racial as you say.

Definately not offensive :lol:

RVD
May 9th, 2005, 01:34 AM
Colored was widely used as late as the 70's in the USA. So, that would be the 20th century. :) Too true. I should've said 'originated'. :lol:

canadian_bass_2
May 9th, 2005, 03:09 AM
Secondly, to ME, colored implies "other". That white is the norm and colored means outside the box of normal. One could also take it to mean that black, brown, yellow and red people have no identity. They're simply filled in using a crayon.
Now, I'm just saying this for the purpose of being a devils advocate, but, there is a flip side to that idea. You could think that the term "coloured" implies "spicier." The white is the norm, and therefore boring and dull, and coloured means outside the box and interesting. You could take that to mean that each race has it's own particular identity, and it's own particular difference from the normal blankness.

"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"

I personally think it would be interesting for my ancestry to be something that was non-white or non-christian. As it stands, there's no way to change my date of birth, place of birth, parents, or whatever. One must always make the best of what they're given.

Cariaoke
May 9th, 2005, 04:57 AM
Now, I'm just saying this for the purpose of being a devils advocate, but, there is a flip side to that idea. You could think that the term "coloured" implies "spicier." The white is the norm, and therefore boring and dull, and coloured means outside the box and interesting. You could take that to mean that each race has it's own particular identity, and it's own particular difference from the normal blankness.

"The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence"

I personally think it would be interesting for my ancestry to be something that was non-white or non-christian. As it stands, there's no way to change my date of birth, place of birth, parents, or whatever. One must always make the best of what they're given.
Well, of course. :)

When people want to REJECT the power that the dominant culture had/has over non-dominates, they use this logic. They "turn it on them" if you will.

i.e. "White" cooking, specifically southern delicacies such as fried catfish and fried chicken are seen as BLAND and DULL by some. Soul-lacking, if you will. No spice to it all, at the most, salt and pepper to taste... anything outside of that, boring.

there's a whole can of stereotypes I could unload but do we really wanna go there? :tape: :haha: ;)

Cariaoke
May 9th, 2005, 05:03 AM
but wait.

I can also take what you said in a negative way, too, canadian.

We all know that the unknown is supposedly exotic. People of color were seen as exotic or spicy, as you say and therefore there were actual debates on whether or not non-whites were human... I want to say "back in the day" but some people still feel that way. If something is exotic, you can exploit it or admire it. Perhaps, a little of both.

kabuki
May 9th, 2005, 06:16 AM
Does that mean white folks are un-colored or colorless?

ceiling_fan
May 9th, 2005, 09:31 AM
there is a really good poem...
When you are born,
You are Pink
When you grow up,
You are White
When you get sick,
You are Green
When you go out in the sun,
You are Red
When you are cold,
You are Blue
When you die,
You are Purple

And you have the nerve to call me COLORED???

Stamp Paid
May 9th, 2005, 09:59 AM
wait, who the hell is saying no, its not??

OUT!
May 9th, 2005, 02:31 PM
Colored was widely used as late as the 70's in the USA. So, that would be the 20th century. :)

But, OP, you would be right and saying most people, at least most American blacks, would find that very offensive.

For one, Jim Crow laws had Colored and White distinctions from drinking fountains to restrooms, from schools to neighborhoods. So, people that would find "colored" offensive would equate it to a time of second class citizenry.

Secondly, to ME, colored implies "other". That white is the norm and colored means outside the box of normal. One could also take it to mean that black, brown, yellow and red people have no identity. They're simply filled in using a crayon.

But I think the first reason for offense is usually why it's offensive. That's how the term African-American came about. White people decided what to call blacks since they were brought over here and African-American was the first time blacks, themselves, decided what they were called. The terms ******, nigra, negro, colored and black were all coined by the dominant culture, read enslavers. I assume terms like Afro-Cuban, etc. were coined by those in that population.
In the main, I agree. However, the term African American is exlusionary in itself. Would a bi-racial person with fair skin be perceived as African American? What part of them is African, what part European, for example. Are we homogenisinig all people of African descent by homogenising them under one umbrella term?But I rarely encounter the term "coloured", maybe I mix in sophisticated cricles :angel: :lol: I often encounter the term half-caste which I absolutely deplore and almost all of the time I would challenge that person on why they use that awful term.

OUT!
May 9th, 2005, 02:35 PM
PS Rocketta apologies for returning to this bi-racial issue over and over !

Andy Mac
May 9th, 2005, 02:38 PM
not offensive!

OUT!
May 9th, 2005, 02:58 PM
not offensive!
Actually the nature and extent to which people take offence by the term "coloured" varies between cultures and nations. Blanket statements like "it's inoffensive" are unhelpful.

Andy Mac
May 9th, 2005, 03:03 PM
Actually the nature and extent to which people take offence by the term "coloured" varies between cultures and nations. Blanket statements like "it's inoffensive" are unhelpful.
:confused: :confused: *whispers*what do i say to that?*whispers*

Bankhead Bounce
May 9th, 2005, 05:33 PM
:confused: :confused: *whispers*what do i say to that?*whispers*

You said it wasn't offensive. Fool. :p

:angel:

bergkamp2004
May 9th, 2005, 07:01 PM
i think it is as it seems to remove thr pride in being a certain colour - if someone is black they are black not coloured - when people use coloured it indicates that that person is a different species to a white person and that is not the case.

CooCooCachoo
May 9th, 2005, 07:21 PM
I do not find it offensive :o

Kart
May 9th, 2005, 07:22 PM
I'd heard it and used many times, including in reference to myself.

Then some years ago on this board there was a thread where several posters went ballistic at another who used it and only then did I learn the associations it had that I was, until then, ignorant of.

I don't find the term offensive personally but I appreciate it offends others, hence I don't use it now.

Brαm
May 9th, 2005, 08:12 PM
Then some years ago on this board there was a thread where several posters went ballistic at another who used it and only then did I learn the associations it had that I was, until then, ignorant of.
That was my thread :o

http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=81601 :bolt: :bolt:

DevilishAttitude
May 9th, 2005, 08:19 PM
Surely there are more offensive terms than the word coloured :confused:

Pengwin
May 9th, 2005, 08:29 PM
I've never been called coloured in my life but I think it's acceptable, Asian is better and Chinese is best.

Oriental and 'Chink' are unacceptable...

!<blocparty>!
May 9th, 2005, 08:45 PM
To me, its always been very obvious how offensive the comment is. I come from a very "white" area, with a lot of racists. There is 70 people in my sixth form, with just one chinese girl. Everyone else is from within the UK and white. I have to put up with "******" etc daily and it pisses me off. It's funny when even my teachers say coloured too :retard:

The term just seems so pointless, I hate it.

Joana
May 9th, 2005, 08:57 PM
You just have to understand that a lot of Europeans are very unaware of the negative conotations that word has. So, before you attack someone who uses that word (and doesn't mean to be offensive), please explain why you, IMO rightly, find it inappropriate.

SJW
May 9th, 2005, 10:00 PM
You just have to understand that a lot of Europeans are very unaware of the negative conotations that word has. So, before you attack someone who uses that word (and doesn't mean to be offensive), please explain why you, IMO rightly, find it inappropriate.

i hate to say it but i agree :p

i can see why Europeans are so :confused: about it. dont forget they didnt have "coloured" rest rooms water fountains etc. so because its offensive to Americans please dont slate the Euros for it, it wasnt the same in Europe.

Stamp Paid
May 9th, 2005, 10:10 PM
I think the way colored is used in Europe is bad intrinsically because it basically homogenizes ALL non-white people. At least in the US, colored was a term used mostly for just black people. In Europe, colored basically means any non-white person. I think thats as equally offensive as the way colored was used towards African-Americans in the United States, because not only is that separation from the dominant culture, but it also relegates all minorities to a lesser status, not even worthy of their own names. Its like if you having a conversation with one of your white friends, and you just describe someone as "my colored friend." Its like damn, they could be anything from Indian to Malaysian to Jamaican, but colored just makes it seem as idf you were just using a generic word to describe all people that are different than you racially. I would definitely find it offensive even if I was a native born European. :o

VeeReeDavJCap81
May 9th, 2005, 10:24 PM
I can't stand that word. I'd much rather someone just say black.

bergkamp2004
May 10th, 2005, 12:14 AM
I think the way colored is used in Europe is bad intrinsically because it basically homogenizes ALL non-white people. At least in the US, colored was a term used mostly for just black people. In Europe, colored basically means any non-white person. I think thats as equally offensive as the way colored was used towards African-Americans in the United States, because not only is that separation from the dominant culture, but it also relegates all minorities to a lesser status, not even worthy of their own names. Its like if you having a conversation with one of your white friends, and you just describe someone as "my colored friend." Its like damn, they could be anything from Indian to Malaysian to Jamaican, but colored just makes it seem as idf you were just using a generic word to describe all people that are different than you racially. I would definitely find it offensive even if I was a native born European. :o

this person talks a lot of sense - i agree with what u say

OUT!
May 10th, 2005, 12:57 AM
Surely there are more offensive terms than the word coloured :confused:
Yes, but I don't think that in itself justifies people using an outdated and historically oppressive term. Otherwrise why stop at coloured? Why not call black people darkies or nig nogs or equally distasteful terms?

OUT!
May 10th, 2005, 01:12 AM
i hate to say it but i agree :p

i can see why Europeans are so :confused: about it. dont forget they didnt have "coloured" rest rooms water fountains etc. so because its offensive to Americans please dont slate the Euros for it, it wasnt the same in Europe.
But Sarah I am European and I've always been aware tha the term coloured is offensive. Obviously there are diffrent historical contexts between the UK and the US, but "coloured" is definitely offensive in the circles I interact with. In fact, as early as 1950s my dad told me the term "coloured" was used in derogatory ways. He remembered coming to London with my mum as a young man, and outside B&Bs, the lanldords would post (in this order):

No coloureds

No Irish

No Gypsies

No dogs:eek: :sad:

So when a person calls someone like my dad coloured, it conjures up all of those negative experiences for him and in a sense the discriminarion is allowed to continue.

I also remember a few yeas ago at work when a colleague referred to the boss as coloured and all hell broke loose, so I disagree with you that in Europe that people dont' take offence to the term "coloured".

Hope you are well Sarah! :D

Sevenseas
May 10th, 2005, 09:26 AM
Yes, it is very offensive and I definitely do not like to hear anyone being called with that term. In a general view, if people from different races require to address/refer to each other, they should learn and thereafter use the terms that are totally acknowledged and approved by that race in order not to cause any offense or conflict. Although there is still much to do, this is just one way to help to establish commonsense and peace between different races. :angel:

Equinox
May 10th, 2005, 10:23 AM
:rolleyes:

Kart
May 10th, 2005, 05:56 PM
That was my thread :o

http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=81601 :bolt: :bolt:

No, it was this one:

http://www.wtaworld.com/showthread.php?t=9899

Kart
May 10th, 2005, 05:57 PM
I probably shouldn't have named it because now someone will just pull it up to the top of the forum :(.

SJW
May 10th, 2005, 06:04 PM
But Sarah I am European and I've always been aware tha the term coloured is offensive. Obviously there are diffrent historical contexts between the UK and the US, but "coloured" is definitely offensive in the circles I interact with. In fact, as early as 1950s my dad told me the term "coloured" was used in derogatory ways. He remembered coming to London with my mum as a young man, and outside B&Bs, the lanldords would post (in this order):

No coloureds

No Irish

No Gypsies

No dogs:eek: :sad:

So when a person calls someone like my dad coloured, it conjures up all of those negative experiences for him and in a sense the discriminarion is allowed to continue.

I also remember a few yeas ago at work when a colleague referred to the boss as coloured and all hell broke loose, so I disagree with you that in Europe that people dont' take offence to the term "coloured".

Hope you are well Sarah! :D

its not nice but its not on the same level as the N word IMO, nowhere near it. if someone called me coloured i'd be like :rolleyes: but the other words i'd beat them down i assure you that.

its the same for people i know as well. maybe we're almost a generation apart :)

hope you're well too. but i still think for continental Europeans it doesn't hold the same connotations :)

saki
May 10th, 2005, 06:11 PM
I didn't know about the negative connotations of it until I used it on the Sanex board (to refer to myself...) and got yelled at because people assumed I must be lying about my skin colour because I used the term - I was told that only white people would use the term. I still don't fully understand why it's considered offensive - can anyone give me a rundown on what connotations this has in the U.S.?

For what it's worth, I actually think it's quite useful to have a term that describes all non-whites because sometimes you do want to say something about non-whites rather than specific groups of non-whites and I find "ethnic minorites" someone cumbersome. But I don't use it any more since that reaction..

To return to something that someone said in either this thread or the old one of Bram's that was bumped - is "oriental" now offensive too? I use that all the time because I find it almost impossible to tell apart Japanese from Chinese people from Koreans etc. "Asian" is a term reserved for those from the Indian subcontinent in Britain so I can't use that.

SJW
May 10th, 2005, 06:31 PM
I didn't know about the negative connotations of it until I used it on the Sanex board (to refer to myself...) and got yelled at because people assumed I must be lying about my skin colour because I used the term - I was told that only white people would use the term. I still don't fully understand why it's considered offensive - can anyone give me a rundown on what connotations this has in the U.S.?

For what it's worth, I actually think it's quite useful to have a term that describes all non-whites because sometimes you do want to say something about non-whites rather than specific groups of non-whites and I find "ethnic minorites" someone cumbersome. But I don't use it any more since that reaction..

To return to something that someone said in either this thread or the old one of Bram's that was bumped - is "oriental" now offensive too? I use that all the time because I find it almost impossible to tell apart Japanese from Chinese people from Koreans etc. "Asian" is a term reserved for those from the Indian subcontinent in Britain so I can't use that.

im not american but i assume its because thats what they put on water fountains and other stuff to keep black people from using the same things as whites. im sure any american would be willing to put me straight on that lol

i never use oriental...luckily i can tell the difference between Chinese and Japanese now. before i just used to call everyone chinese.

Andy Mac
May 10th, 2005, 08:42 PM
You said it wasn't offensive. Fool. :p

:angel:
:lol: oh yeah...ok I STNAD BY MY STATMENT!

wurzelman
May 10th, 2005, 10:53 PM
Personally I see nothing wrong with people being called black/coloured/oriental. I know people (I am not immune myself) who use other words like chinky and ****** while talking amongst each other, although I think this is rare nowadays overall. I think that as long as it does not incite racial hatred, then it is OK. In this country old people tend to use it more than young people, but they are not being nasty on purpose, they have just grown up using these phrases. Using coloured is common parlance in my school, and I never see any uproar being made. I do though think for it to be stamped out we need rap "stars" and the like to stop calling each other ****** and saying it in their output, as this just gets the word well known among those who listen to this.

DemWilliamsGulls
May 11th, 2005, 12:08 AM
It just depends on how you use it. If you are explaining the history of racism and how whites addressed blacks..I see nothing offensive because you are basically telling what happened back then. But if you were to call me a coloured man..hell yeah I would be offended...I dont want no one addressing me to a word that was used to disrespect blacks back then. I'm of african decent...no no damn COLOURED!

Gallofa
May 11th, 2005, 12:37 AM
Well, we go in circles with these things here in Spain. It came to a point where saying someone was "black" sounded harsh, so we moved to calling black people men or women of "color", which of course brings about the question "which color?". It's complicated. I think nowadays most people try to use the nationality to refer to the race, because most mentions to race or color seem to have negative connotations, although there is a slight shift towards using the word "black" again. I have noticed we don't share this phobia with other Spanish speaking countries, argentinian people for instance use the word black without problem, even to call people who are in fact light brown.

bergkamp2004
May 11th, 2005, 08:55 PM
im glad so many people have voted - the discussion is very interesting

Belgium = Best
May 12th, 2005, 04:50 PM
No.... :shrug:

bergkamp2004
May 13th, 2005, 02:13 AM
bump

Dana Marcy
May 15th, 2005, 06:50 PM
It is offensive but you have to be black and American to FULLY understand it.

bergkamp2004
May 16th, 2005, 12:20 AM
i disagree with the opinion that you have to be black to be offended by the term.

Non- white people in Britain especially those from countries which used to be part of the british empire would feel offended if such a term was used to describe them.

the results of the poll so far suggest that there is no clear cut opinion on whether the word is offensive or not.

despite 46% saying it is offensive, it is no clearcut majority.

kiwifan
May 16th, 2005, 12:31 AM
However 46% should indicate that no one can claim ignorance, in the future, when they recieve a negative reaction when referring to non-whites as colored. :)