Thursday, 23 February 2012

The c- word

From The Daily Mail:

ITV were forced to apologise today after a reporter covering a Downing Street football racism summit twice referred to black players as 'coloured'. Richard Pallot was talking about the lack of black managers in the game when he made the mistake..

After Mr Pallot used the same term, one Twitter user wrote to ITV: 'When was it okay to use the word coloured? And to make it worse is that you were talking about racism!' Another person said: 'Why do the itv news keep saying "coloured" when they mean black. It's a bit uncomfortable to listen to..'

I'm completely lost now.

Is it OK to say "black" again when referring to "African-Caribbeans" (this expression was briefly de rigeur a year or two ago; I don't think it ever caught on)? Are "black" people objecting to the term "coloured" because it sets them apart from "white" people or because it lumps them in with other "non-whites"? I suspect the latter, in which case they're as racist as anybody else.

Is it OK for "black" people to refer to themselves as "black" but not OK for "non-black" people to do so? Do non-black, non-white people also object to the term "coloured" because it lumps them in with "blacks"? What about Chinese or Japanese people who actually have white skin but in popular mythology are assumed to be "yellow", ditto Red Indians Native Americans, who are in appearance so close to Japanese as makes no difference?

We know for a fact that proper Indians (i.e. Hindus) don't like being referred to as "Asian" because that lumps them in with Pakistanis and Bangladeshis; the term "Asian" always struck me as idiotic anyway (as it is not used when referring to Siberians, Chinese etc).

In any event, perhaps Mr Pallot meant what he said as was bemoaning the lack of non-white football managers generally; for sure, there aren't (m)any "black" ones (as defined) but there aren't any Pakistani, Indian, Chinese etc. football managers either.

The comments under the article suggest that everybody else is as confused as I am.


john b said...

Black is, and always has been, OK for everyone to use - in the UK at least, probably some Americans will take offence because that's what Americans do best.

Coloured isn't liked because of its colonial associations, rather than any factual connotations (after all, 'negro' just means 'black', but isn't recommended for use...).

'Asian' is made more complicated by the fact that the rest of the English-speaking word uses the term to mean 'Chinese-ish', and not really 'Indian-ish' at all.

Finally, the reason why 'not many black managers' is interesting is because there are a lot of black footballers in the EPL, whereas there aren't many Pakistani, Indian or Chinese footballers...

The Stigler said...

One of my cousins once berated my nan for saying that she'd had tea with the "nice coloured lady" that had moved in down the road.

Never mind that she'd used the word "nice" and that my nan actually socialised with a wider racial mix than my cousin.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JB, ta, that's answered some of the questions.

Yes, managers are former players who have stayed in the game, so the lack of black ones might be noteable, were it not for the fact that it is a relatively recent thing that so many players are black - they simply haven't worked their way up the ranks yet. By definition only one player in twenty or so can become a manager.

But we can then argue, working backwards, that there won't be any pakistani etc managers for decades because there aren't any succh players today.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, splendid anecdotal :-)

The Hickory Wind said...

Black certainly has not always been ok. It was once so not-ok that teachers were referring to the 'chalkboard' and and waiters to 'coffee without milk'.
And 'when was it acceptable to say coloured?' Throughout the nineties, at least, it was the more acceptable term to the people who seem to make the rules on this.
Do people have very short memories or am I imagining all this?
I also remember, in about 1984, Harry Carpenter letting us know who was who at a fight by saying 'Jones is the coloured boxer.' If he'd said 'the black boxer' there would have been an outcry.

Ralph Musgrave said...

The confusion is deliberate. The self-appointed high priests of any morality are not too interested in doing good: of at least equal importance for them is to lord it over the population at large by humiliating / confusing them. That applies to political correctness, Christianity, you name it. Church services in the middle ages were in Latin: completely useless from the peasant’s point of view. But it did enable priests to display their superiority over the peasants.

Ralph Musgrave said...

Another bit of PC bu**shit is the phrase Black Minority Ethnic (BME). Why not Oriental Minority Ethnic, or Muslim Minority Ethnic, or Black, Muslim, Eskimo and Aboriginee Minority Ethnic? It’s all load of pompous drivel.

Old BE said...

A friend of my mother's told me that about forty years ago there was huge pressure from many ethnic minorities to be lumped together as "coloured", even Chinese. The aim was apparently to become a more influential bloc than just Black/Asian/Chinese/etc..

Plus ca change.

Old BE said...

Ralph, I think you are mixing up BME = Black and Minority Ethnic, which is now usually given as BAME.

James Higham said...

Whoopi Goldberg said she was not African-American. "If you want to call me anything, call me black." I've obliged ever since.

Mark Wadsworth said...

CI, good point re chalkboards, hence and why I studiously say "coffee with milk" to avoid causing offence.

RM, BE, it's worse/stupider than that. "BME" is actually pronounced "Black and Ethnic Minority" i.e. it should be "BEM", which coincidentally is the name of a psychic-type Pokemon.

JH, I've never met her. But I'd probably call her "Mrs Goldberg" if I did. Or "Ms", in case that's her maiden name. Aaargh! You can't say "maiden name" any more either, or not in France at least.

chefdave said...

I think there should be a concerted effort to reintroduce the term 'coloured' back into the modern lexicon. Modern moaning lefties have had their prejudices catered to for far too long now and I for one would like to see an end to their language monopoly.

Mr Grumpy said...

As the recent death of Ray Honeyford reminded us, one of the things he got in trouble for was objecting to calling his Pakistani pupils "black".

The rules change, the important constant is that people get the satisfaction of exercising the power to tell us what we can and can't say.

Ralph Musgrave said...

Blue eyes, You’re wrong: I just Googled “BAME” and apparently it stands for Black and Asian Minority Ethnic. That’s according to

This is beyond farce. I’ve long regarded the politically correct as beneath contempt. But when I suggested some ridiculous variations on “Black Minority Ethnic” above, I never occurred to me the politically correct REALLY WOULD get that ridiculous.

A K Haart said...

The problem is compliance, even for people who laugh at such antics. Do I comply or not? If I do, then that’s another small victory, but not for me.

Bayard said...

Why not call everyone with a brown skin "brown" and everyone with a pink skin "white"?

And anyway "bemoaning the lack of non-white football managers generally" is racist, you can't comment on someone's race vis a vis their job without being racist,unles their ethinic persuasion has some bearing on their job (which is true for very few jobs). You don't hear anyone bemoaning the lack of football managers who have identical twins, do you?

gordon-bennett said...

I see this as a combination of malice and ignorance.

The malice arises from racial politics where the objective of the "oppressed" classes is to keep trying to wrong foot the white man by continually changing the rules.

The ignorance shows itself in the classic "black hole incident", ie:

Mark Wadsworth said...

CD, good plan.

Mr G, G-B, good points about them constantly shifting the goal posts. That's what really pisses me off. I don't wish to cause offence to anybody, but if last week's PC is this week's racist and vice verss, then what are we supposed to do?

RM, I still insist that BME is pronounced "Black and ethnic minority". I've seen these people in action on the telly and so on, and none of them spot the irony.

AKH, I comply, not worth the hassle.

B, are you getting twinnist on me?

Hopper said...

Just to confuse matters, I give you the Professional Women of Color network:
But I suggest you don't call them Professional Colored Women.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Hopper, ah yes, but...

1. That's the USA, so what's PC over there this week is racist over here (see John B's comment), and next week it will have flipped over again.

2. As evidence for this, I submit the case that some "black" americans refused to accept Obama as being "black", firstly because he's not, he's white, and secondly because he was not the descendant of people taken to the USA as slaves, his dad was ordinary African and his mum was white and so Obama was in the USA entirely of his own volition.

Woodsy42 said...

"there aren't (m)any "black" ones (as defined) but there aren't any Pakistani, Indian, Chinese etc. football managers either. "

Of course there are! You will find them in Pakistan, India and China - where there are very few white english ones.

Mark Wadsworth said...

W42, you have outsmarted and outgunned me :-(

Bayard said...

"Of course there are! You will find them in Pakistan, India and China - where there are very few white english ones."

I wonder if you'll find their journalists bemoaning the lack of white football managers. Probably not; nobody really gives a shit about white people when they are the ethnic minority.

Ian Hills said...

Look, don't call the minorities anything. Use just one expression, "second class citizens", to describe the native whites.

Bayard said...

There are three types of people in the UK IMHO:
a) ordinary white people
b) ordinary brown people
c) racists of all skin colours.
Unfortunately, group c) is the one that makes the noise and is the one that the pols listen to.

john b said...

Seriously, you don't get into shit in the UK for calling black people black and never have - that's a tabloid myth, probably because people have passed on stories from the US, or the usual mad-tabloid-myth conceptions (the baa baa pink sheep story was a nauseating but completely race-free attempt to make teach kids colours).

MW's point on Obama is entirely true, and also quite interesting - the UK doesn't have a disadvantaged indigenous minority (yes 'I'm a white man and disadvantaged' LOL, but srsly shut up), so political discourse is different from that in other Anglophone countries. Black Americans of slave descent are closer culturally to indigenous people than to immigrant populations, for obvious reasons.

john b said...

"Do people have very short memories or am I imagining all this?"

B. Or, more likely, applying American fusses to Britain.

Mark Wadsworth said...

JB: "Black Americans of slave descent are closer culturally to indigenous people than to immigrant populations, for obvious reasons."

Thin ice there. Wasn't there a delightful spat recently when some Native American tribes stripped blacks of honorary membership/citizenship of their tribes?