‘The black guy’ – offensive or not?

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  • #10527

    Dom
    Participant

    Is it offensive to point out someone by their race? For example, if you point out someone on a street to your friend by saying ‘the black person over there.’ Here in the United Kingdom some people are very uncomfortable with this, and they will do anything to avoid mentioning someone’s race. Is this worrying justified? If there is only one black person in a white crowd, doesn’t it make it easier to identify them by just saying ‘the black person’?

    User Detail :  

    Name : Dom, City : Birmingham, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, 
    #31413

    Taz27454
    Participant

    If he’s the only black guy in the crowd, sure, go for it. In parts of downtown Detroit here, it’s easier to point out ‘the white guy.’ I think that as long as you’re not using any racial slurs, you’ll be OK. As a general rule, I usually pick the most obvious thing about the person and go with that. Some people are over-sensitive about race. Those types are going to find fault in just about anything you say, anyway.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Taz27454, Gender : M, Age : 33, City : Detroit, State : MI Country : United States, Social class : Middle class, 
    #44145

    Kristina26294
    Participant

    I think it’s human nature to use race to identify people, particularly if everyone else is your same race. I know I have done this same thing when pointing out people not of my race. As long as things aren’t said in disgust, I don’t see a problem doing this.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Kristina26294, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Age : 23, City : Washington, State : DC Country : United States, Occupation : Homemaker, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #44721

    Frank
    Member

    The people made uncomfortable by this are people who aren’t overtly racist but are just enough that it’s uncomfortable for them to mention race in any way. If there’s a room full of white people and one black guy, of course I’m gonna use that to point him out. It’s not meant in a derogatory way; I just wanted to point that guy out, and he’s the only person with that skin color. I mean, if it were a room full of people in red shirts, and one woman had a white shirt on, you wouldn’t point her out as ‘The person with the brown shoes on.’ It’s not racist, although I’m sure some people might take it that way.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Frank, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 19, City : Memphis, State : TN Country : United States, Occupation : student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #16794

    Wayne24407
    Participant

    Maybe my opinion will be ignored since I’m from the United States and because of our country’s history when dealing with ‘race.’ But if I want to identify someone, I use the most obvious characteristics. The first of these is skin color (white, black, etc.). If not white, it may need some elaboration, for example, ‘coffee colored’ as opposed to ‘chocolate colored.’ So I don’t see anything wrong with mentioning the subject’s race, as long as it’s done in a non-prejudicial manner. It’s like calling a rock a rock.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Wayne24407, Gender : M, Race : Black/African American, Age : 43, City : Parsippany, State : NJ Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #38214

    Marie
    Participant

    I am American too — although living in another country for just under year. I take no offense at being identified by my race; If I am the only black person in the room it would be easier and quicker to say ‘see that black woman over there…blah blah’. For purposes of identification what’s the big deal? HOWEVER — When people say to me ‘I was talking to this black woman (or man) today and blah blah blah…’ or ‘this black woman (or man) said blah blah…’ I usually expect the statement to include why it was necessary to point out a person’s skin color — what is being black relevant to in this cases? 99.9% of the time it is relevant to absolutely nothing. Its like we’re of a different species or something. I am highly offended by this. I once asked a white friend why she does this and she couldn’t give me an answer. Try this: Show a picture of a white man to a friend and ask them what they see — Chances are they will simply say ‘A man’. Show a picture of a black man to a friend and chances are they will say ‘A black man’.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Marie, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Buddhist, Age : 47, City : Sydney, State : NA Country : Australia, Education level : 2 Years of College, 
    #41159

    Audrey
    Member

    It is not offensive to distinguish someone by their color. The fact is, color is an obvious feature. I will use “color” to narrow down an identity of someone – just like I use hair color, eyes or weight. Even within a crowd of blacks, there are various hues. Many blacks will state various shades of black (high yellow, red, etc.). Not too many whites know about these descriptions because many blacks don’t openly discuss this in front of whites.

    So don’t walk on eggshells regarding the description of race. Race is a fact of life. It describes who we are not what we are.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Audrey, Gender : F, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Christian, Age : 36, City : Tampa, State : FL Country : United States, Occupation : Diversity Consultant, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #24435

    My answer may sound rather passive, but take a listen. Would you say ‘the black person’ if you were talking directly where the ‘black person’ could hear? In other words, would you be comfortable saying where everyone could hear you? If not, then you might consider saying the ‘guy in the red shirt’ or some other less racially charged description. Identifying by racial types might not seem offensive when you are talking only to your own racial type, but when it is heard across the spectrum, you might be setting yourself up for confontation.

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    Name : Mark Bentley, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Gay, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : UFMCC - Cathedral of Hope, Age : 39, City : Dallas, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : Financial analyst, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #27488

    Colleen
    Member

    Offensive…yeah I think so. If it was a crowd of all white people, how would you point someone out? You’d put a little more thought into it and pick out something that made them distinctive (and you’d have to give that a little thought) i.e. the tall man with the long sleeve red shirt and jeans – he’s standing next to the little boy with the green shirt and blue shorts. ‘The black guy’ is too lazy and that alone is offensive.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Colleen, Gender : F, Age : 44, City : Brunswick, State : ME Country : United States, Occupation : teacher's aide, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #28995

    Dena25822
    Participant

    I hear it only when somesone is mentioning a black person. Otherwise people seem to just mention the clothing. I try to avoid mentioning someone’s race all together unless it is vital.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Dena25822, City : Fairfax, State : VA Country : United States, 
    #45228

    Dom: I live in the U.S. and the same phenomenon occurs here. My friends and I have often discussed how peculiar this is. As a simple descriptive term to qualify me as black or brown makes sense. Personally, I find it no more offensive than calling me short or big breasted – all things I am. However, when I mention this in a mixed race group it obviously makes others uncomfortable. I think the idea of being blind to race has simply gone to far. I don’t think the issue was ever a color-blind society but a color neutral society. To notice one is black or white or green is natural and normal. To make assumptions based on that is not. That we’re afraid to say someone is white or black speaks to our larger fear of being politically incorrect. Honestly, as a black person, if you hesitate to call me such (or any other acceptable version) I wonder what you call me in private. It makes it seem as though you had to censor yourself before you chose to say black instead of what you perhaps say when no one is around. Maybe that isn’t fair but is what I think.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Tressie Cottom, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Age : 28, City : Charlotte, State : NC Country : United States, Occupation : copywriter, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #13853

    I don’t think so. If it’s used in a descriptive manner that uses terms considered polite and intended to be non-offensive. Think of it in other than racial terms. Hair color or eye color perhaps height, no one would mind being pointed out in a crowd as the ‘tall’ guy on the other side of the room or the ‘redhead’ down the hall. Using something that sets someone apart from a crowd to identify them quickly is fine. A problem that might arise is if you were to identify someone as a ‘black guy’ in a roomful of black guys. In this case your motive for adding race could be questioned. As far as being uncomfortable, I would have to say that could be a sign to me of unspoken racism to me. My friends of all races wouldn’t mind how I described them because they know they could politely correct me if they disagreed with the description. Finding discomfort in making a description might be seen as a signal of discomfort or fear of people of that race.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Matt Shelley, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : 15 different races-nationalities-tribes, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 44, City : Chicago, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : broker, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #14048

    I PERSONNALY DON’T THINK ANYTHING OF IT , IN MY PROFESSION (LAW ENFORCEMENT) IT IS NECESSARY TO QUICKLY IDENIFY SOMEONE AS CLEARLY AND EXPEDIOUSLY AS POSSIBLE. TO US IT IS LIKE TALL,SHORT FAT YOUNG,OLD ETC.

    User Detail :  

    Name : JERRY MARTIN, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Methodist, Age : 65, City : FORT WORTH, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : LAW ENFORCEMEN, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #14943

    Mimi20469
    Participant

    I would think, no matter the color, one would be proud of what they are. I agree with what has been said. I’m interested in the shades of black. Would you mind sharing more? Female, White, 50+, upper class.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Mimi20469, City : Avon, State : CT Country : United States, 
    #22838

    dixie
    Member

    i work in a predomanatly black environment, so when speaking of a third party, we say ‘white mike’ or the black girl in this area. it is used for identification. the black folks do the same, so in our case it is not offensive. we also have great diversity, with hispanic and asian,it helps

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    Name : dixie, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 53, City : houston, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : postal, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Lower middle class, 
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