Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Coloured", the other c-word

A Conservative MP has got himself into trouble for using the word "coloured" to refer to people who aren't white. The BBC Magazine covers it here and it's got some interesting background on the word too. We've covered it here on this blog before so just do a quick search using the word in the search bar at the top.

So, what's wrong with it? Here are two points of view from the site:

The term was common parlance in the 1960s, but its origins are the problem, says Mr Agbetu. It comes from the ideology of racism, that white people are white, and everyone else is somehow other coloured. It fails to recognise that everyone has an ethnicity and is an inadequate "one-size-fits all" description.
When I was growing up in the 70s, "coloured" was considered by my white, middle-class demographic as the polite word for dark-skinned persons. To call someone "black", which is preferred by many people now, was extremely rude. In adulthood I see that we had this backwards, but it was well-intentioned. I sympathise a little with Mr Jenkin, as this minefield is being constantly re-laid. For Labour to take such gleeful advantage is shabby. But he does need to keep up. I understand why "coloured" is seen as offensive now and certainly wouldn't use it myself.
Useful for:
ENA1 - Language & Representation

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is a touchy subject as it always is but this is the effect that the pressures of politics and society is having on a whole to be politically correct (claimed by some to be impeding free speech), we are in a era where political correctness rules the way people in the public eye speak and if any comes close to breaking this protocol they are persecuted by the media nd percieved as racists, sexist etc. The connotations with the word 'coloured' has changed over a period of time (semantic derogation) and so too has the word black (amelioration) to describe black people. Mr Jenkins is a well educated politician and should be aware of this, however because of the previous attitudes to word it is partly underdtandable him using it.

Dan said...

But then again, he's their spokesman on race relations (or something like that) so you'd have thought he might be better informed.

BTW I'm going to look at yr coursework stuff later today - honest!