Is this person a racist? Re use of the word "Negroes"

I have client in his 70’s who is a well regarded pillar of the local community and in addition to a well deserved reputation for fair dealing, usually always has a kind word for eyeryone regardless of race, creed or color. We were driving by a local high school the other day just after it had let out, and there were two black boys scuffling. One boy’s giant, low rider style pants had fallen down around his ankles so he was swinging at the other boy (ineffectually) with his boxers flapping in the wind.

He glanced at this scene as we passed by, sighed and muttered “Poor, silly negroes”, and went back to talking business.

I was surpised to hear him make this comment, but I though it was possibly just an artifact of his upbringing. Is “negroes” considered to be un-PC to the point of being racist these days, or not?

I suspect that his use of the word “Negroes” was a function of his age group. The term is generally considered more quaint than offensive. What might be a little more troubling is his emphasis on the ethnicity of the combatants; i.e. “silly Negroes” rather than “silly boys”.

As ** threeorange** pointed out, the problem is not the terminology (“negro” was considered the proper, enlightened term back in the 50’s and early 60’s - the use of “black” came later, and we all know the usual term in use at the time).

The sad part is that he probably believes that blacks really are intellectual simpletons, and that it is not surprizing that they can’t even fight worth a damn.

He is, from the phrase quoted, a man of good intentions and really bad information - somewhere along the line he should have met a couple of blacks who weren’t simpletons - did he never associate with blacks, or did his pre-conceived “blacks are intellectually inferior” mindset keep him from fairly evaluating the people he met?

At any rate, as racists go, he is not worth worrying about.

rule for life: if you don’t know if something is racist or not, then its probobly not something worth it to worry about.

Yup, it’s not at all PC but it’s nowhere near as bad as “nigger”. Like someone else said, it’s more of a quaint thing and it sort of dates people when they use it. Case in point, my mother is the most anti-racist liberal I know but I’ve heard her use the word “negro” before when referring to her hair, “My hair is almost like a negroe’s”.

I’m more concerned with the “poor silly” part than the use of the word negro. It was bad enough to reference race when viewing behavior that was in no way race specific, but putting that disparaging, condescending qualifier would indicate to me that he was seeing the situation though a prism of race-based hauteur at the very least.

Not unexpected, certainly quite sad, and yes, racist at its heart though not at its intent.

It’s just a matter of showing his age… people of that vintage probably mean no offense by the term, they always thought it to be the polite term for a black person. I think we’ve come a long way- of all my kids, not a single one knew what a “jigaboo”, “jungle bunny”, or “burrhead” was. A lot of those old timey racial epithets seem to be dying out. “Negro” to me is quite harmless.

I was talking to an elderly man the other day who used the term, “the coloreds.” I dont think he meant anything by it-- it was just the training of his youth. It did surprise me a little, though.

I’ve been hearing the phrase “people of color” more frequently these days. (I actually think this sounds better than “black” or “African-American.”) Is this phrase PC?

“People of color” refers to all non-caucasians. “Colored” only refers to blacks.

Is anyone who’s responded to this thread black? I’d like to hear from black people if they find the term Negro offensive. I’ve used it (I’m 47) and was told it is insulting.

The phrase “people of color” doesn’t refer only to African-Americans; it’s a generic term for racial minorities in the US, although admittedly, we use the term more than do Asians and Hispanics.

Poor silly ‘Board Posters’.

‘Dopers’ is more acceptable, and board posters is acceptable if you don’t know better, but it’s ignorant to say it in such a condescending way. Looking down on any group smacks of racism.

I’m also bothered by the “poor, silly” part of the statement - that’s what would make me assume that he’s racist if I had overheard him.

The word “negro” for a person in their 70s is, to me, not that big of a deal. However, someone in their 40s? Who had been a child during the civil rights movement? For whom that term has not been preferred for their entire adult life? For them, I would assume they picked that term on purpose to be offensive.

Well, you assumed wrong, Amarinth. And I wasn’t asking about “preferred”. I said “insulting.” And I used it in the same sentence that I used “caucasian” (as opposed to “white”). Are you black?

Just a comment. Most people I have known that use the word racist frequently, are the most racist people I know. Whoopi Goldberg for example.

I think the “poor, silly” thing was more offensive than “Negro”. “Poor, silly, African-Americans” would have been just as racist. His statement assumes that all black kids act that way and that no white kids do.

Jesus, how the hell do you know this?

Angel Heart, would “poor, silly boys” have been sexist?

The fact that he made a distinction that they were black is derogatory. If they were silly boys, it wouldn’t be derogatory, it would be descriptive. The “negro” description wasn’t necessary.

Also, TaxGuy, you have to ask yourself, if it were two white boys fighting would he have said, “Those silly white boys?” Doubt it.

Kalhoun, yes, I am.
And when someone under a certain age chooses to use a word that, while it isn’t absolutely, undeniably offensive, has obviously fallen out of favor, is no longer in common usage and hasn’t been for 30 years, and has been borderline for nearly as long - I’m going to take negative notice.
It’s roughly analgous to the kid holding her hand two inches in front of her brother’s face whining “but I’m not touching him. See, there’s space, I’m not touching.” It’s knowingly pushing a boundary.

I’ve always wondered about that too, in some ways.

I’ve had a parent be insulted when I sent a kid home with a Debussy piano piece called “Le petit negre” (the little negro). There’s NOTHING I can do about the title of the piece…

So yeah. What DO you do in cases like this? I mean, “Le Petit Negre” is probably the first Debussy piece kids can play (grade 6 at the conservatory) and its style is really unique…

I haven’t taught it since. That’s kind of a shame…

I’ve been worried about putting it on a performance/concert program and having parents get all upset.