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Is it acceptable to use the term 'colored' to describe a black person?

Last week I was watching TV with my SIL and her husband and they were telling me about the contestants on some singing show we were watching. Her husband said "The colored girl is really good." I was kind of shocked, but didn't say anything. I know he didn't intend for it to be offensive, and my SIL didn't even bat an eyelash (she is white, but her 13 yo son is mixed as am I). I asked DH and my MIL and they both said it's a term that really should not be used and I agree.
Your take?


Asked by LadybugTash at 11:14 PM on Nov. 26, 2012 in Politics & Current Events

Level 20 (9,776 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (30)
  • African American is such an arrogant term - it automatically assumes that every black person on earth is a proud American, which must be awfully inconvenient for all the ones who actually live in Africa, but might have occasion to visit the US someday.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:06 AM on Nov. 27, 2012

  • "African American" isn't always correct either... what if a black person is native to France... they are not an "African American" right!!

    I personally would not call anyone "colored" - I would think that would rub someone the wrong way big time!! My kids say "brown" when describing a friend... I think that's cute and sounds more true to live... I hope it 's not offensive!!

    Answer by Crafty26 at 11:50 PM on Nov. 26, 2012

  • I do not like the fact I have to feel so damn self-conscious cause I am afraid of saying the wrong word to a 'black'....'brown'.....'colored'....African American' person. Although I understand the "N" word, and why its not used. They call 'white' people white when we may be tanned, or a natural lighter brown like if we had Native American ancestry or Italian, or even some Hispanic heritage. We do not see these people getting bent out of shape and offended. Why is the term 'colored' so offensive? Is it because it was used commonly couple hundred years ago? I am not trying to start anything honestly, I am just wondering why some get so offended by or rub the wrong way if someone describes someone as "colored"

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:13 AM on Nov. 27, 2012

  • I am just wondering why some get so offended by or rub the wrong way if someone describes someone as "colored"

    It has a similar stigma attached to it as the big one. When you examine the history of the early 20th century, that's the term used for segregation - "whites only, no colored" or "colored drinking fountain". A lot of people, especially those old enough to remember living in those conditions, want nothing to do with being referred to by that word. Similarly, many don't want to be painted with the same brush as those who used it for the purpose of segregation.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:20 AM on Nov. 27, 2012

  • colored is what old ppl say. however, when i worked for the 2010 census we were told that some older black ppl might refer to themselves as colored. i dont think its an offensive term but its an outdated term that makes the user look bad.

    oh and just to add to the confusion of the term "African American"...i met a guy who had dual citizen in America and South Africa (where he was born and raised for 10 years), making him African American...he's white.

    Answer by okmanders at 12:21 AM on Nov. 27, 2012

  • I think people need to spend a little less time being offended by things that were never meant to offend and a little more time on the joys in their lives.

    My dear Grandaddy had several hired hands and he called them Negroes. He meant no fact he couldn't have made it without them. Today he would probably be called racist for using such a word. That is sad.

    Answer by yourspecialkid at 9:05 AM on Nov. 27, 2012

  • To madmuller... Not all black people are African American and not all African Americans are black. There are actually quite a few white people that were actually born in Africa that consider themselves African American.


    Answer by Anonymous at 2:59 PM on Nov. 27, 2012

  • Ok- a bit off topic:
    If colored is wrong why is person of color ok?
    please forgive my ignorance but it's a question I have had for a while but no one to ask.

    Answer by feralxat at 11:40 PM on Nov. 26, 2012

  • I have wondered about that too Crafty. The majority of people who call themselves african american have never even seen african on a map.

    My mother's parents came to this country with her siblings (she was born here) But I am not German American.

    Answer by Dardenella at 11:59 PM on Nov. 26, 2012

  • When I was young, that was the accepted term. I use to cringe every time I heard the term 'black'. I thought it was being used as an insult. It took a while to realize it was the new 'colored'. Then, it became 'African-American' except that isn't the best term either. There are people from Africa that come to America that are white. I personally know 2 of them. They get in all kinds of 'trouble' for trying to use the ethnic designation as African-American. Their argument is that they are actually from Africa. The people in the US using it to mean 'black' are infringing on their actual ethnic/country of origin designation. I don't know. We are all a color. White is a color - like it or not. Why can't society just let it go?

    Answer by jesse123456 at 6:19 AM on Nov. 27, 2012