So, is acknowledging reality racism?

Let me posit a certain scenario. I have had friends who are black. Well, African-American (plus some people who are black and African, and some who are black and not African). While buying a suit, I commented that a certain colour of shirt worked well for them, perhaps because it played well of their skin tone. And I think it did. I don’t think it would work well with my skin tone, which is white but a little rosy in the face.

Well, colour me (ba-dum-kssh) surprised that a certain relative cut me off, perhaps a little alarmed I was making a racist comment. Alright, I suppose it’s possible I’m wrong, but… I don’t think ackowledging reality is racist. I’ve known people with very dark skin color. They looked very good in a lilac/violet shirt. I really don’t think someone with a lighter skin color would look well in the same although it’s posible I’m wrong there, too.

So, am I the next incarnation of Hitler, ready to lead the KK… or just somebody saying what colors match (to me, anyhow).

I think that if there’s any place where acknowledging one’s skin tone is appropriate it’s clothing choices and personal identification (where it’s helpful, that is. At my local gaming store there are two players called Eric, both of whom play the same games and army sublists from those games, so rather than asking other questions to narrow down who someone’s talking about I cut straight to “White Eric or Black Eric?” rather than “40K Eric? Err… Chaos Eric…err…Slaanesh eric…ummmm?”)

You were positing your preference as reality when in fact its simply your taste in clothing. Being darker skinned doesnt automatically mean certain colors work better for them.

I’ll admit that there are general fashion rules to that effect, and your relative probably jumped the gun too quickly though. But people are sensitive to these things, and I’d rather everyone be over sensitive to non-slights than under sensitive to real insults

Your friend who stopped you is the racist, you just have fashion sense.

It’s far more racist to assume that a black person cannot handle a commentary on what clothes would suit their skin-tone, than it is to mention that skin-tone. It shows that your relative thinks that black people have such a thin skin that they cannot differentiate fashion advice from racial prejudice.

Well we need to see the shirt first.

I believe that the term racist should apply only to beliefs that work to create a society wherein the members of certain races are disadvantaged relative to the members of other races.

My definition applied to comments that “work to create a society wherein the members of certain races are disadvantaged”. Comments that approve of such a society work to create such a society.

Like it or not though, the race of a person can be useful for creating prior expectations about certain things, and I occasionally use them. Race and sex affect my expectations, and therefore my behavior towards people. That does not make me racist. On the other hand, I would say that professing (approvingly) that the world would be a better place if minorities were disadvantaged is a racist comment.

This is incorrect. Some people look better in different colors, tones, actually:

It depends. With the example you provided, absolutely not.

Your relative is the one in the wrong.

Skin tones, hair color, height, and weight are all factors in choosing fashion. Strictly speaking in that sense, you should be good. Your relative needs therapy.

Since you were discussing skin color for a reason that makes skin color important, there is nothing racist about your comments. Racism is the belief that there are “races” of people, and that one or more of the races is inherently superior compared to other races. Acknowledging skin can be dark brown and that this has an effect upon color choices in clothing is nothing to do with racism.

Now, terming the person “black” is not racist, but it is using a racial term. The skin is not black, but dark brown. The hair is within the realm of tones we might call black, but not the skin. Using the term “black” to describe the color may be an easy shorthand, but it clearly relates to the concept that there was a “black” race (“black” being the translation into English of “negro”, the root in Negroid). So you might want to rethink using that term to describe the skin color in question, though certainly everyone will know what you mean.

Its only racism when the information about race(or ethnic origin if you prefer) is used specifically to denigrate or disadvantage someone.
Here, if I am arranging a meeting or conference of any sort, I will always ask about the race of the participants? Why? Because its the easiest shorthand to determine conference planning. Got some Malays coming? Its a 98% bet that they’re Muslem and will need Halal food, some Indians? Would check to see if they need Vegetarian fare. Do the Malays need time for their Friday prayers or not?

By the same token if you are using “colour” as a descriptor or adjective its not racist. Here “black” (as in African) is rare. So it would be a great shorthand to tell someone - "just go look for the black dude in room 101.

Just a question - would you consider this statement racist…
Go find the big black bastard, who’ll be able to point you to the weedy white prick you are looking for.

In this case I think we can pretty safely say that all those skin tone charts and fashion tips were made up mostly by white people, and are basically telling black people what tones they ‘should’ be wearing. Dunno if Id call it racism, but it would mean Id be cautious about being too reliant on them. Different culutres have different ideas about fashion its a subjective field by definition.

So simplest answer though is whether the friend found the suggested colour choice offensive and whether they felt over pressured or that you were being a bit overbearing on the person in question to accept your colour suggestions. Regardless of race, that can be annoying no matter what and might be more what the other person was reacting to if it wasnt explicitly discussed.


Well duh. Do we really have to include a caveat on every opinion to make sure others don’t believe we’re stating an absolute fact?

Colors are always contextual, and it’s true that some colors work with some people and not others. Anyone who denies this is an idiot . . . so an idiot considers you a racist. Don’t sweat it.

He was just stating his opinion on the aethtics of the color of the suit against his skin tone.

Now if he said, “because of your Black skin tones, I think thissuit would be more appropriate.” Well…

Or to put it more simply, it’s called color theory, and it’s a science as well as an art, one that every fashion designer knows (even if some of them are terrible at it).

That’s bullshit. There are plenty of black people in the fashion industry. Yes some outdated stuff was dominated by white people, but that’s irrelevant today. Him saying some color looks better with someone’s skin tone if they are black should be no more controversial than if he said it to a white person. My skin is actually kind of yellowish and that impacts what I can wear. I tend to look pretty good in greys actually.

“That’s bullshit. There are plenty of black people in the fashion industry.”

Noone said otherwise, I would however be very surprised if they were more than a minority unless you’re claiming they’re overrepresented compared to the normal population.

"Or to put it more simply, it’s called color theory, and it’s a science as well as an art, "

At the very best it can be a science about perception, which inherently has both subjective and objective components. The very fact that different cultures clearly have different colour preferences even inside the same skin colour shows it cant possibly be an entirely objective field of study.


It’s still opinion, though. That many people may agree just means it’s widely-accepted opinion.

I think the problem with having “acknowledging reality” as a key phrase is that everyone accepts reality. A racist doesn’t see equality, decide he would like to reject it, and hallucinate disparity; they honestly follow their peceptions to the same extent that everyone does. For a Klanner, that black people are whatever unpleasant thing* is* acknowledging reality.

I had a question related to the OP’s

When we decode and understand the entire human genome what if we discover different races have different capacities for intelligence?