Why are people hesitant to use race as a description?

In my job, customers routinely call me and discuss the service they received. It is a mostly white profession, but we do have one black (African American) under my employ.

When a customer calls for a complaint, compliment, or a neutral inquiry, I will often ask them who their technician was. They will describe eye color, hair color, height, weight, facial hair, etc.

If I still am not sure I ask, “Was he a black guy or white guy?”

If it was the black guy, they immediately chime in “The black guy!” and most go on to say something like “I didn’t want to mention race, etc.”

My question is “Why?” Nobody is implying anything negative about blacks. We are simply talking about a description of the person in question, so why is race such a taboo in only DESCRIBING a person?

I dunno. I wondered why people hesitate to say “yeah, the woman with the big titties.”

Before I am admonished for that last post, let me explain:

Sometimes, certain physical features are a bit uncomfortable to just spout out as your first impression. Many large breasted women will tell you that it feels uncomfortable to know that the first you notice is her breast. Even if you like them and all and maybe think it’s a compliment. A guy with a big butt proabably feels uncomfortable when repeatedly being refered to as “the guy with the fat ass”. Things like “oh yeah, the Jewish guy” or “oh , you mean the dyke lady” or “oh, the old guy” or even “the girl with the thing on her face”.

You don’t have to avoid saying such things but it’s just nice not to. get to know the “girl with the thing on her face” and maybe she becomes “Angie, the sweetest, most honest person I know.”

Right, but as I said, the person is not using the term “black” as something negative like “the guy with the fat ass”. Saying someone is black is neither a compliment nor an insult. Just like saying “the Jewish guy”; you’re not calling him a “filthy Jesus-killing kike”. You are just using a descriptive term to differenciate him from another person. The word “Jewish” is neither positive or negative…

Correct. The answer is PCness run amok. Some people are just afraid to acknowledge race. Others, like some in the news industry, avoid mentioning it out of some contorted sense of noblise oblige and fear of perpetuating negative racial stereotypes. Never mind if the guy isn’t caught and victimizes others, a man’s race shouldn’t be used against him, or some other such nonsense.

I agree the PC stuff has run amuk. That doesn’t change courtesy of others feelings. Black men and women are often quoted to the affect of , "I’m a man, why do I have to be qualified with “black”. Not dissimilar to “the big titty lady”. It’s not an insult nor a compliment, it’s just uncomfortable for some. Now we aren’t obligated to make people comfortable but it seems I’ve heard the term “asshole” thrown around for people who don’t submit to courtesy, even though they don’t have to.

Unless it’s actually a physical description, the race is almost always irrelevant. But some people err on the side of caution in such a situation. It’s human nature. At least they’re trying.

Because there is no right term for ethic dudes. You use “black” and you offend some dudes who say their skin is not black. You say “African American” and you may offend someone who is black but not of african ancestry, or thinks that African American only refers to blacks of slave descendents. Or whatever.

However, “they” are also often right as race often matters not a whit.

So, it’s a touchy subject where no one is right or wrong, and you run too high a risk of offending someone for no nessesary reason.

Of course, there is a solution- name tags. Then it is “Dave” who they are talking about- not “the tall dude” or “the black guy”. Try it.

Yes, but it’s this infatuation with political correctness that has people swaying things that are helpful in communicating for fear of not only offending someone, but being viewed as un-PC yourself. The OP was talking about including race as a valuable descriptor in trying to discern who helped the customer. He was NOT talking about just throwing it in as incidental information. I could see being reluctant to call attention to a deformity or abnormality, particularly if others are in earshot, but there’s nothing wrong with being black, is there? If there is some distinguishing characteristic that causes someone to stand out when you are trying to identify that person. Pointing out that characteristic is helpful. I was talking with a guy I used to play basketball with and he was trying to describe one of the other guys we used to play with (over a year ago). First it was “Matt’s friend”, then it was the “guy with the serious hops and long shorts”, then finally, “the guy withthe red fro”. OH! So why didn’t you just start with that?

As far as the rest, it is usually best to leave discussions from other threads in those threads.

Oh I’m discussing anything except a perceived lack of courtesy possibly being construed as being an asshole.

I’m having a difficult time understanding what you wrote here. But I was simply letting you know that it is considered not helpful, particularly in GD, to carry over discussion from one thread to another. You were clearly alluding to the other thread and I just thought you might want to be aware of the custom. Since you are a guest I thought you might not be aware of it.

Independent from any other conversation, I think some would argue that failing simple courtesy might make one a candidate for “asshole”.

Never mind, then. I thought you were alluding to the other thread because it seemed clear th—

You know, I’ll just stick with never mind lest this get turned into a hijack. Must have been my mistake.


Since I believe there is only one race and that is the human race,I would discribe the person as tall,dark, or light skinned (If that was necessary) perhaps his weight, or what department he was in etc, If I talk to a person either by phone or in person I ask their name, which makes discribing the person a lot easier.


That’s a nice idea but I’m terrible at names. I am a visual person so I would most likely remember that the person I was working with was male or female, black or white than if it was Dave or Fred.

I worked in a warehouse where I was one of the few white guys (most were black or Hispanic). I had no problem when someone would say, “Yeah, that white guy over there was helping me out.”

Seriously, you need to come to grips with reality. The above is just a dance around what the OP was saying.

Right. That really helps people like me who, y’know, look at the face of the person they’re dealing with rather than their chest. Sometimes :wink:

Well, who came up with black as a group and descriptor and why?

It’s certainly quicker than saying “The individual of the the species Homo Sapiens who appeared to have both chromosomes X and Y and a higher concentration of melanin than a person of primarily European descent.”.

When someone has to describe me and doesn’t recall my name, they’ve been known to say ‘the gay guy’ and I don’t have an issue with that. Skin tone seems to me a harmless enough descriptor, but I get why some people don’t care for its use.

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