Is "colored" racist when describing a person's race?

My opinion is yes but I’d like to hear how others feel.

No. It’s way out of date, and I wouldn’t use it, but I think it was intended to be a polite way to identify someone’s race. I think it was common in my grandparent’s era, and I’m 44, so I wouldn’t expect to hear it from people under 90 or so.

When I was growing up in a small midwestern town (graduated high school in 1968) ‘colored’ was the generally used polite term for the people we now call African Americans. Negro was the formal term and both were considered respectful.
Both terms have become outmoded now, but I still haven’t heard them used in an intentionally derogatory way.

Too many variables. No one complains about the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, for instance. And, as Berke Breathed once pointed out, one politically correct term is “People of Color.”

The word is not racist. It could be used in a derogatory way by a racist, but so could, “nappy-haired person of West African descent” if someone wanted.

Agree with both of these, though my answer to the poll was a plain “no.”

IMHO it isn’t racist, but it does sound old-fashioned, which makes you wonder what else is old fashioned about the person who is saying it, like perhaps they support segregation

No it is only racist if you attribute specific attributes, mainly negative but not always. It is not racist to say Australian Aborigines are coloured but it is if you say all coloured people are fat etc.

And yes colour has a U in it.

Not so much racist as outdated.

I gather it is often found offensive. “Racist” is an odd test, because the word is only applied to a few racial groups, but it is in the tiny category of terms that actually mean something about race per se.

If somebody incorporates it into language specifically for the purpose of being offensive, I guess that would be racist. Similarly, the recent Tancredo speech to the Tea Party crowd emphasized the president’s middle name by saying it more loudly and slowly, which is (not so subtly) racist, but when the president’s parents gave him the name, they were doubtless not being racist.

It’s come to be racist, but a lot of older people will use it without being racist.

I know an elderly resident at a retirement home I volunteer at and she uses the term, 'that little negro boy." No one cares, she’s like 92, even the black residents don’t care, they’re her friends and they know that was the term she used in life and she doesn’t mean it as a racist comment.

And they also know better than to try to tell a 92 year old person anything :slight_smile:

But words are powerful and who uses them is as important as what is said. And usage varies, for instance, my folks are from Yugoslavia, but my father learned English in the UK and my brother and sister were raised for the most part in New Zealand. I grew up in America and was born here. I’m gay but when I here the word “Fag” I think of cigarette.

You could call me a fag all day and despite me being gay, all I’d think was “cigarette,” 'cause it’s so ingrained in me.

Racism is the belief that one race is genetically inferior to another.

When I fashioned the OP, I guess I was really thinking “offensive” but somehow it came out “racist”.

I’m colored and I use it all the time.

That is a type of racism. I consider racism to be making negative assumptions about someone based on their race rather than their own actions.

In the United States today, the term is racist, in my opinion; it is outdated and hence ignorant. I’m a little confused that we have to go to great lengths to avoid calling people (or actions) racist when they draw on traditions that systematically elevate one race (or some races) over another (or others). Someone who’s 92, that’s one thing, but anyone who follows the public discourse is aware that “colored” is at best disrespectful in this day and age.

As far as I know the term has quite a different meaning in South Africa, however, so it may not be racist there.

As others have pointed out, just because someone uses “colored” to describe race doesn’t mean they are racist. “Colored” as a categorizer wasn’t originally supposed to have an impolite connotation, in fact quite the opposite was true.
However, I think using “colored” or “people of color,” isn’t great because it implies that there are white people, and, well, there’s everyone else. For instance, Sub-Saharan Africans are colored, but Australian Aborigines are also coloured? In the United States, Amerindians and people of mixed race are also colored. Are East Asians considered colored? What about someone from say, Pakistan? Or Lebanon? I’m not really trying to go for a “racism is bad, we are all members of the human race,” vibe, but rather that the whole colored thing is a stupid way of classifying people. In cases where one literally means to say “everyone who is not white”, saying “people who are not white” would appear to work fine, without implying that people who aren’t white necessarily have anything in common other than being, well you know, not white. Hell, a Pakistani and a Pole probably share a much closer genetic and cultural history than an Australian Aborigine and a Nigerian.

Yes, because it implicitly divides the world into “whites” vs “everyone else”.

So does the phrase “racial minority” in most of the West. Is that also racist?

I think it’s kind of weird, and dated, but not necessarily racist. I can’t say what I find weird about it, though. I have referred to myself as a “person of color” but I’d never say “colored person”. Mostly I just say “brown”. Cause I am.