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Old 03-22-2019, 07:01 PM
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Was I being racist?


A few weeks ago, I made the mistake of texting two different groups at the same time and I accidentally sent the post intended to go to my GF to a group of people that my daughter sends updates and photos to of her new baby.

In between texting my daughter's friends, I'd been watching The Bachelor finale (Yes, I know) and IMing my friend as we watched it (in 2 different locations) live. At the end, the next season's Bachelorette, a former beauty queen from Alabama, was announced, and they had the first 5 suitors walk out and introduce themselves to her. She's white. One of them happened to be black, which is not an uncommon thing to do on The Bachelor.

I texted, "I wonder if they told that black fellow ahead of time that he'd be dating Miss Alabama. Can you imagine THAT hometown visit?"

My sister replied back, "I think that you sent that post to the wrong people...?"

I explained, "Oh, sorry. Watching The Bachelor with my friend."

My daughter said, "Mom...that was racist."

I replied back, "I'm not racist. I was pointing out that a biracial pair might raise eyebrows in the deep South. "

My daughter replied. "Still racist."

So I wonder, WAS I being racist? I think that I was actually being more prejudiced against Southerners, but maybe she's right.

What do you think? Would you be offended by that text?
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  #2  
Old 03-22-2019, 07:08 PM
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I think this isn't necessarily racist, per se, but it's highlighting someone's disadvantage in an unintentionally derogatory way. Kind of like, "Crestwood High School is full of thin svelte girls. Ashley weighs 350 pounds, can you imagine what HER first-day experience is going to be like when she visits the school this semester?"

Last edited by Velocity; 03-22-2019 at 07:09 PM.
  #3  
Old 03-22-2019, 07:14 PM
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Racist against who? You didn't insult the black guy.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:18 PM
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On the border. In the south people still stare at biracial couples. It's getting better, but not fast enough.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 03-22-2019 at 07:18 PM.
  #5  
Old 03-22-2019, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
On the border. In the south people still stare at biracial couples. It's getting better, but not fast enough.
What does "On the border" mean? What about the statement was racist?
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:24 PM
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Close to being racist. I made a comment one time at a PTA meeting, about the struggle of biracial students. I meant it totally in a non-bigotted way. But, man I got schooled on that. Just differentiating those children is racist, or so I was told by people of many races. So just noticing or pointing it out is considered racism.

Last edited by Beckdawrek; 03-22-2019 at 07:24 PM.
  #7  
Old 03-22-2019, 07:26 PM
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Noticing that a black guy may not fair well showing up with a white girlfriend in Alabama is racist?
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:32 PM
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Not racist but I could see why offense could be taken by someone from Alabama.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:48 PM
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Originally Posted by PunditLisa View Post
So I wonder, WAS I being racist? I think that I was actually being more prejudiced against Southerners
I see what you mean. But I suppose that what you actually wrote could have been misinterpreted along the lines of "hurr hurr, a black fellow is going on a date with a white girl, can you IMAGINE?!", which does have a racist-y vibe to it. Honestly, it's as much the sheer sound of the phrase "that black fellow" (which I'm quite sure you didn't mean in a disparaging way) as anything else in the remark.

Perhaps less potentially ambiguous way of phrasing what you were driving at: "Do you think the black Bachelor and Miss Alabama might run into trouble in her hometown for being an interracial couple? I wonder if he knew in advance where she was from!"

Still obviously implying that Southerners are racist, but less likely to come across as sounding at all racist itself.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:59 PM
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Noticing that a black guy may not fair well showing up with a white girlfriend in Alabama is racist?
The black guy might feel differently.
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:02 PM
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The black guy might feel differently.
He may. Doesn't mean that it's racist to think that.
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:11 PM
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TL;DR, but if you have to ask, then assume yes.
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It may be because I'm a drooling simpleton with the attention span of a demented gnat, but would you mind explaining everything in words of one syllable. 140 chars max.
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:17 PM
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TL;DR, but if you have to ask, then assume yes.
Not when the basis of the question is "Other people said it was racist"
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:18 PM
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Is the concern that this could be labelled as racist? Or that it may have offended some people who received it?

I think it’s safe to say, based on the responses, that it did offend some people.

What it should be labelled as, seems much less important to me.
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Old 03-22-2019, 08:19 PM
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I don't know. I almost got sent to diversity training at work once because I was telling a coworker a couple of funny stories about my mother's long-time cleaning lady. Another coworker, from a different area and not a friend, decided I was slagging a black woman, and reported me
My mother's cleaning woman was not black. Also she was hilarious, intentionally and unintentionally. I was relating how my mother just ate up all the gossip V. told her about the other families she cleaned for without seeming to realize this probably meant she told all of them all the gossip about us, if there was any. (We were pretty boring, unlike...well, never mind.)
So I got out of it. But I wondered. What if V. was the same person, only she was black? Would it then have been racist? I mean, the only way I got out of it, I think, was by saying, "Hey, I was not talking about a person of color."
  #16  
Old 03-22-2019, 08:28 PM
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That just serves to illustrate that many people are morons, and one or two people that say something should not be considered the definitive answer on whether or not something is racist.
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Old 03-23-2019, 12:44 AM
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Racist against who? You didn't insult the black guy.
A racist remark doesn't have to be an insult. Even compliments can be racist.
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Old 03-23-2019, 01:46 AM
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Try as I might, I can't parse it in a racist manner. It instead just seems to be assuming the people in the Alabama town would be racist. I can see why this might be offensive to Alabamans and others who live in similar states. I know it annoys me when people shit on Arkansans.

Still, that isn't racism, and I don't think it's good for that word to appropriate the meaning of just "offensive," as that only helps out those who claim we only call things racist as an insult.

Maybe I'm wrong, and someone can reveal how it actually is saying anything about black people. But I don't see it. It's saying something bad about Alabamans. It's no more racist than when Wayne Brady would do it on Whose Line.
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Old 03-23-2019, 03:18 AM
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All depends on context and tone. If it's "My God! Aren't Alabamans a bunchy of bigots!", that's offensive to Alabamans but not racist. But if it's "How very amusing it is to contemplate the victimisation of this biracial couple!" then, yeah, that's racist.

And the think about online communications, as we know, is that the tone you intend when you send your one-line zinger is not necessarily the tone with which it is read by the recipient. So it may well be the case that this statement can legitimately be read in a racist sense and, even if that wasn't the author's intent, depending on the care and though that went into the framing of the statement the author may bear some responsibility for that.
  #20  
Old 03-23-2019, 04:23 AM
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Just because a comment is about a racial matter doesn’t automatically make it racist. I don’t see the remark under discussion as racist.
  #21  
Old 03-23-2019, 06:04 AM
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I a vacuum I can see how it can be taken as racists. (Which may actually be the case. Is the OP friends with the people in the group?)

However, if I knew the person, and knew his or her sense of humor, I probably wouldn't think much of it.

I'm taking the joke to mean, the black gentleman, would have an awkward time explaining why he's dating "Miss Alabama".
  #22  
Old 03-23-2019, 07:50 AM
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I don't think I'd be offended by that text, but I can think of some people who, if they had said something like that, I'd probably roll my eyes.
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Old 03-23-2019, 07:56 AM
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One of my nephews and I share an "in joke" where we'll say, "that's racist" in response to random comments. So, someone says, "what an awful winter" and one of us throws at them the non sequitur "that's racist".

It's amusing how often people scramble to cover themselves. "What? No! I didn't mean to imply.....".
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Old 03-23-2019, 08:22 AM
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I would say that you were being racist in several ways. That is, you were contributing to systemic racism.

First, your phrasing sounds to me like you might be contemplating the situation more for its entertainment potential than the threat it posed. A more extreme statement that did this more obviously would have been “Oh, wait for it, this is going to be good!” You didn’t go that far but I read your remark as being partway there.

Second, you were putting the onus on the person who was black to handle whatever his hosts might have done wrong. It would have been less problematic if you had wondered whether Miss Alabama and the people around her were able to behave themselves.

Third, perhaps, by piling onto the meme of Southern racism you might have been dismissing what many think of as the more insidious and less transparent Northern racism.

Fourth, and this one is a bit tenuous as it relies on the reader intuiting your state of mind, in my humble opinion your tone was a bit trivializing.

I think what you wrote was well within the typical range of things majority people say. It wasn’t outrageous. But, yes, I sense these racist elements in it.

Forgive me if I’m repeating anybody. I wanted to post my answer before being biased by the others. And it is good that you are asking. Compliments on that.
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Old 03-23-2019, 05:50 PM
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Ridiculous to call that remark 'racist', but it's part of the unfortunate pattern of reducing the word to virtual meaninglessness. IOW I'm sadly unsurprised somebody would call it that.

That said, and I'm an American not from the South and not particularly on the cultural wavelength of the South, I think characterizations like that are getting old and tired. Maybe if somebody did a thorough re-benchmarking of US society and could prove that people's racial attitudes are now all that different just because of 'South' (as opposed to their educational and class background, etc), then OK we could decide to freely engage in that stereotype for a few more decades. But I'm really not sure that's actually true anymore. Especially if you're counting what people think, not just what they've learned to say and not say.

Speaking of which, just not making any comment in any way related to race is now the obvious way to go in casual social interaction. I never bring up any reference to race first in real life (even 'the guy over there in the grey sweater', *not* 'the black guy other there'), and confine myself to the most obvious and anodyne responses if anyone else brings it up. 'X person was (or claims to have been) victimized because of their race, isn't that terrible?', 'yes, that's terrible' (because it would be terrible if true, nor am I going to get into whether I think it's true).
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Old 03-23-2019, 07:13 PM
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In a sense it’s calling Alabamans racist, but it’s also kind of putting the focus on a potentially biracial couple. They know they’re from different races. They don’t need you to point that out. It’s in a sense pressing them to answer for the racism of other people. It’s a type of remark that’s associated strongly with racist people, because it’s a common form of racist expression to suggest that a couple needs to be hyper-aware of what other people think about their races.

Last edited by Acsenray; 03-23-2019 at 07:14 PM.
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Old 03-23-2019, 07:18 PM
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I believe the lesson we should all take from this is to not watch The Bachelorette.
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This seems to be pretty definitive.
posted by logicpunk at 10:07 AM on December 20, 2007 [3 favorites]
  #28  
Old 03-23-2019, 08:06 PM
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First, your phrasing sounds to me like you might be contemplating the situation more for its entertainment potential than the threat it posed. A more extreme statement that did this more obviously would have been “Oh, wait for it, this is going to be good!” You didn’t go that far but I read your remark as being partway there.
This is the key point.

What you said... er texted... was an observation that really didn't need to be made about the potential dramatic or comedic value of a Southern Beauty Queen dating a Black Guy. It reduced both of them to their skin color.

Not exactly racist, IMHO, but clumsily put, and definitely interpretable as racist-adjacent. Your daughter gets more slack for being a slightly heavy handed in calling you out for it than you do for assuming it was innocuous.
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Old 03-24-2019, 08:10 PM
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I believe the lesson we should all take from this is to not watch The Bachelorette.
This valuable lesson might even be generalized to apply to all 'reality' television.
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Old 03-25-2019, 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Napier View Post
..
First, your phrasing sounds to me like you might be contemplating the situation more for its entertainment potential than the threat it posed. A more extreme statement that did this more obviously would have been “Oh, wait for it, this is going to be good!” You didn’t go that far but I read your remark as being partway there.
Might be contemplating it for its entertainment potential? On The Bachelorette? That's the whole point of the series I would think.
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Old 03-25-2019, 04:06 AM
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IMO, the phrasing "that black fellow ..." just sounds hella racist, even if you followed it up with " ... was the best President in the last 50 years". So maybe it was that?

I mean, you were actively watching it at the time - couldn't you just use his actual name?

Last edited by MrDibble; 03-25-2019 at 04:08 AM.
  #32  
Old 03-25-2019, 03:01 PM
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Might be contemplating it for its entertainment potential? On The Bachelorette? That's the whole point of the series I would think.
I don't mean contemplating the series "The Bachelorette" itself. I mean the mixed race dating happening in Alabama, as alluded to in the OP quote:
"I wonder if they told that black fellow ahead of time that he'd be dating Miss Alabama. Can you imagine THAT hometown visit?"
  #33  
Old 03-27-2019, 10:58 AM
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I don't think it was racist or some sort of "microaggression," though as noted above, it could've been taken that way. I do think that people are extremely sensitive today about race. People tend to dance around it unless they're calling someone out as racist.

My daughter once told me I was being racist when she was telling me about a friend of hers I was unfamiliar with and I asked, "Oh, is she the black girl that comes to your bus stop? You guys seem to get along really well - you should ask her if she wants to come over." I found the exchange particularly interesting since my kids are both products of my own biracial marriage, so often describe themselves as brown and me as peach colored.

There are plenty of wrong ways to talk about race, and right ways, but I don't know that there is a good universal to talk about race that won't offend someone. All you can do is your best to be respectful, and I wouldn't have read disrespectful intent into what the OP said.
  #34  
Old 03-27-2019, 11:40 AM
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You were not racist, but you were bigoted against the South.
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Old 03-27-2019, 03:47 PM
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You were not racist, but you were bigoted against the South.
True.

Seeing a black guy with a white girl is very common. Sorry, it doesn't raise eyebrows anymore.
  #36  
Old 03-27-2019, 05:17 PM
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TL;DR

If you have to ask...
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Old 03-27-2019, 05:20 PM
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I relented; read the OP:

"that black fellow"

Yup, racist as fuck.
  #38  
Old 03-27-2019, 07:34 PM
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Just saying the words "that black fellow" is racist?
  #39  
Old 03-27-2019, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Beckdawrek View Post
On the border. In the south people still stare at biracial couples. It's getting better, but not fast enough.
Hell, the wife and I still get stares here in California because we're White & Asian.
It bothers my wife; I've learned to be oblivious.

Like Beckdawrek says, "It's getting better, but not fast enough."

--G!
  #40  
Old 03-27-2019, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Napier View Post
I don't mean contemplating the series "The Bachelorette" itself. I mean the mixed race dating happening in Alabama, as alluded to in the OP quote:
"I wonder if they told that black fellow ahead of time that he'd be dating Miss Alabama. Can you imagine THAT hometown visit?"
And my point is that the producers of this abomination* probably said exactly that while getting the competitors together. I mean the part about "Can you imagine that hometown visit?" as of course he knew who the Bachelorette would be.

*No offense to anyone who watches this junk. I mean, this show.
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