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I don't know the person so that makes it hard. But qualifying an observation to suggest that the American locale is not America, smacks of racism. Probably something the person may not realize is offensive, yet it really is.

I live in an area of absolutely unabashed racism. Sigh....I cannot WAIT to move. Dh's retirement can't come soon enough. And this kind of comment is often a "test the waters" comment. Based on the response, they know if they should pipe down, or get to speak up and be even more offensive. That's my area. It's my lived experience, so I'm not saying that was the motivation of the person to whom the OP referred.

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I don’t know for sure if it’s racist or not, but I wouldn’t have said it in a million years.  Something about it sounds off to me.  Saying that you felt like you weren’t in America anymore because you

I would listen to *how* he said it, if there was a derogatory undertone.  It doesn't sound like that was his intent.  Thousands of people (of all nationalities) choose Jamaica as a happy place to go f

Sure. If you insert the words "retard" or "fat slob" the precise same logic holds.  It will be heard more acutely by some than others; some barely register it at all.   What is different abo

3 hours ago, solascriptura said:

Yeah, I know that a lot of people in the majority culture here in the USA say things like this. 

What do you think of a 90 year old man that still calls African Americans by the old offensive word negro?  It's very offensive but some will argue that the old man doesn't mean any ill.  So?  It's still offensive.  If the chiropractor made a remark like, "oh, I noticed the demographics of the area have changed quite a bit.  It's interesting how much it's changed."  This is quite different from saying, " wow!  I felt like I'm in Jamaica!"  

 

Some people might find it offensive, but offensive is not racist.  I would argue that taking offence to a 90year old man saying what was considered reasonable and polite when he was younger is quite possibly ageist, and people who think that way might deserve what they get if they don't keep up with language trends when they are elderly.

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Noticing I'm the only white person around is both normal and neutral.  And for most white people living in most corners of America, certainly including myself, being literally the *only* white person around is sufficiently unusual that I *feel* it.  It is a moment that registers.  That part to my mind is quite normal.

To name that noticing as "just like Jamaica"... is to put stereotyping language on the moment that is, to my mind, moving on to thinner ice.  Maybe the guy's frame was that the best vacation he'd ever been on in his entire life was in Jamaica, he's mulled fondly over the memories ever since, and that Jamaican Moment on the beach just brought back such a huge flood of such wonderful memories that his cup spilled over.  Sure.  But a chiropractic patient is unlikely to know that.  Without context, it sounds rather pejorative, doesn't it.

But to volunteer the anecdote, with that stereotyping language, to a PATIENT is weird, and to my mind over the line.  I mean.  Why? 

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47 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

The question to me is would it be ok to say this statement in front of people of color?  I'm guessing many POC would NOT be ok with this being said.  POC MAY hear stuff like this all the time and I see why they find it grating and would at least consider it a microaggression.  I would be uncomfortable if someone said this to me.  And I present as white.  

In general, I hope people of color would step forward on this thread and let us know their read.  At the end of the day, I don't think Caucasian people get to decide what is and isn't racist.  

I do agree with @CuriousMomof3 on not knowing if the guy is racist.  You  can unintentionally say something considered racist without intending to do so.  

To be clear, this is what is problematic.  An observation like "Our area is sure more diverse than it was 10 years ago." is fine.  

 

 

I am a person of color and what that man said is not ok.  Is the man a racist?  I don't think anyone can say that or not, but what he said is racist.

  I'm bowing out of this thread, but I'm politely asking all who are reading this and from the majority culture of the USA to reconsider if you can be the one to decide what is a racist comment or not.  As I state earlier, I equate it with the example of the 90 year old man that continues to insist that the word negro isn't wrong since he didn't mean it in a bad way.  

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3 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

 

Some people might find it offensive, but offensive is not racist.  I would argue that taking offence to a 90year old man saying what was considered reasonable and polite when he was younger is quite possibly ageist, and people who think that way might deserve what they get if they don't keep up with language trends when they are elderly.

Look, I never said anything about him deserving anything.  When an offense deals with race it can become racist.    Just as I consider it offensive to be called Oriental (Jap or chink) it is rude to call a Native American an "Indian" or a black person a negro.  Why should it be okay that a elderly person call someone whatever he wants to because he used those words when he was a young child?  All of these words used to describe a person of color come from times when non-white people were treated as inferior.  

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It's a really weird comment to make to someone else.  It is very much the sort of comment that white people make to other white people when they are testing boundaries to see how the other person feels about black people. 

We stopped attending a local church homeschool program because the pastor's wife kept making comments about race that were apropros of nothing, but always said with a smile.  Lady, I'm not falling for it.  I know what you are doing.  

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3 minutes ago, solascriptura said:

Look, I never said anything about him deserving anything.  When an offense deals with race it can become racist.    Just as I consider it offensive to be called Oriental (Jap or chink) it is rude to call a Native American an "Indian" or a black person a negro.  Why should it be okay that a elderly person call someone whatever he wants to because he used those words when he was a young child?  All of these words used to describe a person of color come from times when non-white people were treated as inferior.  

 

Because focusing on whatever language is trendy at the moment, to show you think the right way, is a great way to create social problems, and it creates a kind of very negative social hierarchy that is in no way an antedote to bigotry.  Quite the opposite.  Often changes don't actually reflect any specific reasoning, it's more fashion or a vague association with old-fashioned ideas.

And its impossible for people.  They can't keep up. Many people who are elderly don't always find it easy to even be sure what the right words are, not to mention changing their usage which is more difficult when you are older.  Their friends are of their generation and also don't use the newer words, they can't hear well, they may not get out often.  Elderly people speak in ways that are old-fashioned in many ways, just like young people speak in the most up to date ways and are ignorant of expressions that have fallen out of use.  For that matter, some of the words you mention are used  by elderly members of those communities about themselves - negro and Indian particularly.

Part of respect for elders is understanding they don't have the same experience you have, and that includes recognising that there is a difference between offensive language, and old-fashioned or archaic language.

 

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

And its impossible for people.  They can't keep up. Many people who are elderly don't always find it easy to even be sure what the right words are, not to mention changing their usage which is more difficult when you are older.  

 

Then maybe they should refrain from making comments about another person's race if they are unsure of how to have a respectful conversation. 

Most of the "elderly" people walking around the US now lived through the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  People have had 50-odd years to figure out how to behave and speak appropriately.  This argument of "I'm too old to remember the correct word, but I'm perfectly capable of remembering all the wrong words" is pretty thin.  

I also don't think we should be in a position of policing how brown-skinned people refer to themselves.  If a native person refers to themselves as Indian, that does not extrapolate out that every other native person in North America is a-ok with being called "Indian" and that is the socially correct way to refer to that demographic.   

Like, I might refer to myself as "being a b!tch" in a conversation with a friend, but that doesn't mean any man overhearing the conversation should assume all women should now be referred to as "b!tches" and act incredulous when told to stop. 

    

Edited by MissLemon
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38 minutes ago, Bluegoat said:

 

Because focusing on whatever language is trendy at the moment, to show you think the right way, is a great way to create social problems, and it creates a kind of very negative social hierarchy that is in no way an antedote to bigotry.  Quite the opposite.  Often changes don't actually reflect any specific reasoning, it's more fashion or a vague association with old-fashioned ideas.

And its impossible for people.  They can't keep up. Many people who are elderly don't always find it easy to even be sure what the right words are, not to mention changing their usage which is more difficult when you are older.  Their friends are of their generation and also don't use the newer words, they can't hear well, they may not get out often.  Elderly people speak in ways that are old-fashioned in many ways, just like young people speak in the most up to date ways and are ignorant of expressions that have fallen out of use.  For that matter, some of the words you mention are used  by elderly members of those communities about themselves - negro and Indian particularly.

Part of respect for elders is understanding they don't have the same experience you have, and that includes recognising that there is a difference between offensive language, and old-fashioned or archaic language.

 

We get it. Race is a meaningless construct to you and language never offensive. Do keep in mind that many of us believe being elderly gives one no more right to give deliberate or unintended offense than being young. Just as we train youngsters to do better, so too can we educate our elders. No one is above or beyond learning.

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Also, this topic started by OP was about her chiropractor, not a 90 year old person with dementia and who cannot help what comes out of their mouth. "But what about the old people that cannot adapt?!" is a red-herring. 

Edited by MissLemon
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1 minute ago, Sneezyone said:

 

We get it. Race is a meaningless construct to you and language never offensive. Do keep in mind that many of us believe being elderly gives one no more right to give deliberate or unintended offense than being young. Just as we train youngsters to do better, so too can we educate our elders. No one is above or beyond learning.

Thank you!

Respect for elders, or respect automatically conferred simply for being a generation older than someone else is in and of itself, a troublesome tradition because it gives widespread immunity to old folks to do and say whatever they want and everyone else has to put up with it because "respect for elders". And frankly, the old folks alive today have absolutely been kids, teens, young adults during the civil rights movements, they have lived in the age of changing terminology. They know better. Seriously. The only ones that get a pass are the ones major cognitive issues and dementia because they truly can't filter or understand.

The number of folks 65 and older will increase by 105.2% by 2030. 98-100 million people. There is no way in hell anything is going to get better in this nation by giving a pass on bad behavior, racist language, discriminatory culture because "respect your elders".

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34 minutes ago, Faith-manor said:

Thank you!

Respect for elders, or respect automatically conferred simply for being a generation older than someone else is in and of itself, a troublesome tradition because it gives widespread immunity to old folks to do and say whatever they want and everyone else has to put up with it because "respect for elders". And frankly, the old folks alive today have absolutely been kids, teens, young adults during the civil rights movements, they have lived in the age of changing terminology. They know better. Seriously. The only ones that get a pass are the ones major cognitive issues and dementia because they truly can't filter or understand.

The number of folks 65 and older will increase by 105.2% by 2030. 98-100 million people. There is no way in hell anything is going to get better in this nation by giving a pass on bad behavior, racist language, discriminatory culture because "respect your elders".

Yes, agree. 

To me it's as simple as basic respect.  If someone prefers to be called "Mister Jones", that's what you should call him.  Just as if a racial group is more comfortable with a particular designation, it is respectful to use it.  And NOT to use ones a racial group finds offensive because you think they're being overly sensitive. If I repeatedly called you Tom after you told me to call you Mr. Jones, you might not be super respectful after a while.   It's not like they're changing monthly.  Age is not a license to be an insensitive jerk.  

My grandmother died in 2010 at age 89 and was on top of this.  If someone has dementia that is a different issue.  But I've always felt it was important to say something especially if my  kids were there. 

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1 hour ago, StellaM said:

 

Yeah, I am more conservative on social issues than I used to be, but to me, anyone white using the n-word, no matter how old, is engaging in harmful racist language.  

Negro is not the appropriate word to use, but, to clarify, that is not what the n-word stands for in America.

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5 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

Because focusing on whatever language is trendy at the moment, to show you think the right way, is a great way to create social problems, and it creates a kind of very negative social hierarchy that is in no way an antedote to bigotry.  Quite the opposite.  Often changes don't actually reflect any specific reasoning, it's more fashion or a vague association with old-fashioned ideas.

And its impossible for people.  They can't keep up. Many people who are elderly don't always find it easy to even be sure what the right words are, not to mention changing their usage which is more difficult when you are older.  Their friends are of their generation and also don't use the newer words, they can't hear well, they may not get out often.  Elderly people speak in ways that are old-fashioned in many ways, just like young people speak in the most up to date ways and are ignorant of expressions that have fallen out of use.  For that matter, some of the words you mention are used  by elderly members of those communities about themselves - negro and Indian particularly.

Part of respect for elders is understanding they don't have the same experience you have, and that includes recognising that there is a difference between offensive language, and old-fashioned or archaic language.

 

 

 

I’ve found my elderly parents to be quite open to and thankful for private,  respectful discussions around racist comments they’ve made, but truly did not think were racist. I don’t think respect for elders necessarily means ignoring racist comments because they are perhaps just using old fashioned or archaic language. In my old age, I certainly hope my ds will respectfully bring such things to my attention if the situation warrants.

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6 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Given that racism is primarily an attitude of the heart, intent is really the bulk of the issue when dealing with it on an individual levels, as opposed to systems and dominant culture.  Whether someone was ignorant or sloppy with their language or implying something more overtly hostile and offensive absolutely matters.

 Intent matters. 

Yes it does.  My mother who is 74 has become hyper focused on language.  It is maddening.  She thinks no one should be referred to as older or elderly.  That is not rational in my opinion.  A 50 ish friend of ours helped several  tween and younger kids make cupcakes and then deliver to the ‘older ones ‘ in our congregation. My mom told her, ‘don’t bring me any cupcakes if you are going to refer to me as older. ‘.  Along with several minutes of further chastising a woman who was just trying to do something nice.  The woman cried.

I have learned from my almost 20 years on this board that it is impossible to please everyone.  I do my best to be kind and that is the best I can do.  

Ftr, I don’t think the reference to Jamaica was about ‘another country’.  I think it was about his personal experience and where he had previously been in the minority.   

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To be fair, I know a number of people who would be surprised to learn Jamaica is another country. They seem to operate under the assumption that most islands in the Caribbean, particularly those where English is spoken, are some kind of American territory. Many of those people are likely also some what racist of the "unthinking ignorant" variety. 

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I'm not saying intent doesn't matter in the scope of the world or in how one might react.  However as an example, everyone is exposed to the "n" word for the first time.  Suppose a young teen or tween starts uses that word without knowing that word is historically loaded.  That doesn't mean we should label this kid racist for life.  It does mean that kid needs some education and direction.   And using that word is STILL racist.   It's  unaware and insensitive.  Why are the feelings of the speaker more important than those who might feel minimized and racially targeted by the words and how they perceive those words?

http://www.aclrc.com/intention

Correcting an adult acquaintance on the fly is another matter.  I do still think this is a weird thing for a chiro to bring up with a client in this way and I would have also read it as a way for him to read how conversation can go with you.  I think in a client-professional setting like this, bringing up anything race related into a discussion is likely unprofessional and certainly unnecessary unless it's directly related to your own treatment.   He could have brought up weather, car troubles, his vacation to the mountains, etc.   Possible lack of racist intent doesn't let someone completely off the hook.  And I'm still not convinced about this guy. 

18 hours ago, Tanaqui said:

"Yes, I love that our area is getting so much more diverse! It's so much more representative of all Americans now than it used to be, isn't it great?"

If he meant it in a bad way, he'll take the hint and shut up. If he didn't, he may realize how it came across but you haven't actually accused him of anything.

I like this quite a bit as a response for something like this and I'm putting it in my back pocket.  

Equating calling someone elderly to saying something a POC might perceive as racist is a red herring.  That said, if someone doesn't want to be called old or elderly, fine.  Take them off that list.  

 

 

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4 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

I'm not saying intent doesn't matter in the scope of the world or in how one might react.  However as an example, everyone is exposed to the "n" word for the first time.  Suppose a young teen or tween starts uses that word without knowing that word is historically loaded.  That doesn't mean we should label this kid racist for life.  It does mean that kid needs some education and direction.   And using that word is STILL racist.   It's  unaware and insensitive.  Why are the feelings of the speaker more important than those who might feel minimized and racially targeted by the words and how they perceive those words?

http://www.aclrc.com/intention

Correcting an adult acquaintance on the fly is another matter.  I do still think this is a weird thing for a chiro to bring up with a client in this way and I would have also read it as a way for him to read how conversation can go with you.  I think in a client-professional setting like this, bringing up anything race related into a discussion is likely unprofessional and certainly unnecessary unless it's directly related to your own treatment.   He could have brought up weather, car troubles, his vacation to the mountains, etc.   Possible lack of racist intent doesn't let someone completely off the hook.  And I'm still not convinced about this guy. 

I like something this quite a bit as a response for something like this and I'm putting this in my back pocket.  

Equating calling someone elderly to saying something a POC might perceive as racist is a red herring.  That said, if someone doesn't want to be called old or elderly, fine.  Take them off that list.  

 

 

It is about language and intent.  So no not a red herring.  If my mom wants to be offended by everyone who refers to her as elderly or older than she will spend  the rest of her life being offended.  She IS older......I think I can count 5 people older than her in our congregation.  The lady was doing something nice for my parents and a few others.  She was teaching young kids to do for others, respect older ones.  

Sure after she made my friend cry friend will probably never again refer to her as older.  It is exhausting though.....all the things that offend people.  I try to be around people who know my intent and value me even though I might use the wrong phrase sometime.  

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8 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Given that racism is primarily an attitude of the heart, intent is really the bulk of the issue when dealing with it on an individual levels, as opposed to systems and dominant culture.  Whether someone was ignorant or sloppy with their language or implying something more overtly hostile and offensive absolutely matters.

 Intent matters. 

I agree that intent matters but once you know better, you do better. 

It’s like, once on a TV reality show featuring “little people” - those with genetic dwarfism - a well-meaning guy intended to pay a compliment, presumably, to the little people running a bakery. He said something like, “I think it’s great how you midgets have opened this shop!” Well, of course, “midget” is not an acceptable term to use for people with dwarfism, but he did not seem to know that. He did not appear to be trying to slur them. His intent was to compliment them on overcoming a disadvantage and doing something people without that disadvantage might find easier. But they still could not reasonably let him go on thinking “midget” is an acceptable term. They kindly corrected his terminology. If he’s a gracious guy, he will go, “Oh. I’m sorry. I didn’t know that.” And thereafter he will not use that term. 

What I have seen happen is that someone is corrected and they get mad. Maybe they were embarrassed or maybe they are just hard-headed jerks, but they get mad about it and fume about why do they have to bow to the PC word police. 

For my part, if someone corrects me and brings it to my attention that I am being unintentionally hurtful, I do my best to alter my words/behavior. Not saying I am always perfect in this respect, but in general. I was told by a friend whose child has severe autism that she really dislikes “your autistic son.” She said, “Please say, ‘your son who has autism. I know it takes longer to say it, but I really hate him being identified first by his disability.’” Point taken. I do my best not to say, “autistic child” to anyone now. My intent was of course, never to be hurtful, I was only ignorant the effect it was having. 

Edited by Quill
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17 hours ago, Lang Syne Boardie said:

I think if it's a comment about the perceived race of others, that a white person could only "get away with" making privately to another white person, it's racist and should go unsaid.

I don't think he meant to be harmful but it would be nice if he wouldn't act like a 3yo on tour. "Wow, look at all the black people! We are the only white people! When I get home, I will tell my friends!"

 

That’s basically how I see it.

I recently said something pretty darn stupid about being the only white person in a space.  In my head, it was all about picking on myself, but I could clearly see (after the fact, of course) how crummy it was outside of my head.

I love living in a diverse area and combating racism is extremely important to me. But I’m still a thoughtless idiot from time to time, and I have to keep working to improve that.  

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I ONCE had the experience of being the only white person at an all black Pampered Chef party.  I couldn't imagine thinking that it felt like I was in another country.  I only felt like wow, I am the only white person here. To think that I would have to be in a different country implies that the US is a white only country.  So yeah, it feels racist to me. 

Was it intentional? Who knows. Intent matters to a certain extent -- people really do say stupid things or phrase things really badly.  It doesn't make the statement suddenly less racist.  

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18 hours ago, Suzanne in ABQ said:

 

Yes, this.  I imagine it is not a feeling one gets used to.  

I have spent a pretty big chunk of my life as a majority minority-I went to college on a scholarship designed to increase diversity, and when a White girl from VA increases diversity, that's saying something. I spent my pre-child career teaching in schools where I was usually the only White face in the room, and sometimes in the building. My first job out of college was at an Afrocentric early childhood center, in a building that had been a pre-integration private school, founded by the first Black woman to get a graduate degree at Texas Tech.  In general, once I was "known", I felt comfortable. But there were tiny things, almost every day, that reminded me that I wasn't really part of the local culture. I was there, I was accepted, but it was very clear that I was the visitor to that world, not a native. You get used to it, but not used to it. And privilege still carries, even when you are the minority in the room, because your race is still the majority in the overall culture (I have been stopped for "Driving while White", but it has always been "Ma'am, is everything OK? Do you need help finding where you're going?"-without hostility or open suspicion.)

12 hours ago, katilac said:

Negro is not the appropriate word to use, but, to clarify, that is not what the n-word stands for in America.

One of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life was when my Grandmother did a bus tour to the Tunica casinos, and proudly introduced me to her friends as "This is my granddaughter-the one who teaches the little N-word children".  I cannot imagine anyone else overhearing wouldn't have heard it the same way-she had a LOUD voice by that point since her hearing was going. I wanted the earth to swallow me up, right there. I can only imagine what the employees that had to have heard felt, and almost all Tunica casino employees are Black.  Many of my students' parents took  the shuttle buses to Tunica to work in the casinos because the jobs paid enough more, and the conditions were enough better to make it worth the commuting time and having to arrange child care. With most of the weekday crowd in the casino being senior citizen groups, I can't imagine that my Grandmother was the only little old racist they had to deal with. I'm guessing they earned every penny of the increased cost just in having to bite their tongues so often!

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re heart, intent, and what happens in the next round:

9 hours ago, Arctic Mama said:

Given that racism is primarily an attitude of the heart, intent is really the bulk of the issue when dealing with it on an individual levels, as opposed to systems and dominant culture.  Whether someone was ignorant or sloppy with their language or implying something more overtly hostile and offensive absolutely matters.

 Intent matters. 

 

If intent matters, and if the heart is in the right place, then once we know better, we do better.  Once language is pointed out -- be it "Jamaica" or "Negro" or "Oriental" or "elderly" or "Retard" -- as disrespectful or hurtful, we dial it back and stop using that language.  

If we dig in and insist on our right to use whatever language is customary, or respond defensively that it's too exhausting to have to think about whether our language is perceived by others as disrespectful... to keep on insisting our "intent" is good and our "hearts" are respectful is rather meaningless.  If we can't be bothered to hear how our behavior affects others we're not respecting them in any way that has any meaning.

Edited by Pam in CT
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1 hour ago, Quill said:

I was told by a friend whose child has severe autism that she really dislikes “your autistic son.” She said, “Please say, ‘your son who has autism. I know it takes longer to say it, but I really hate him being identified first by his disability.’” Point taken. I do my best not to say, “autistic child” to anyone now. My intent was of course, never to be hurtful, I was only ignorant the effect it was having. 

But this is also another good place to point out that groups of people are not monoliths. Many people who have autism aren't bothered in the least by being identified first by their disability (and I believe there are some who embrace it). DS20 is one who isn't bothered at all by it. I don't even think it's anywhere on his radar of things to be concerned with. As his mother I agree with his POV on this, and people contorting their words to avoid disability first language make me mentally cringe. But of course I respect others who wish to be addressed differently.

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10 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

re heart, intent, and what happens in the next round:

 

If intent matters, and if the heart is in the right place, then once we know better, we do better.  Once language is pointed out -- be it "Jamaica" or "Negro" or "Oriental" or "elderly" or "Retard" -- as disrespectful or hurtful, we dial it back and stop using that language.  

If we dig in and insist on our right to use whatever language is customary, or respond defensively that it's too exhausting to have to think about whether our language is perceived by others as disrespectful... to keep on insisting our "intent" is good and our "hearts" are respectful is rather meaningless.  If we can't be bothered to hear how our behavior affects others we're not respecting them in any way that has any meaning.

In my case, since you picked up on my word exhausting,  I don't insist on keeping on.  But rather it puts quite the wedge between people when everything is open to judging and correction. .  

I try to keep my head down and say very little to anyone anymore, including on this board because there is always someone who will tell me how wrong I am doing things and how offensive I am.  

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1 minute ago, Pawz4me said:

But this is also another good place to point out that groups of people are not monoliths. Many people who have autism aren't bothered in the least by being identified first by their disability (and I believe there are some who embrace it). DS20 is one who isn't bothered at all by it. I don't even think it's anywhere on his radar of things to be concerned with. As his mother I agree with his POV on this, and people contorting their words to avoid disability first language make me mentally cringe. But of course I respect others who wish to be addressed differently.

Yes, I know it’s not monolithic. But before she told me that, I never thought of it or heard of it. Now that I know that some people don’t like that, I can lead with it the other way. 

I can think of a lot of similar examples. I personally don’t like it when people say “girl” to mean a woman. As in, “I’m looking to hire a girl to do the data processing.” But I know not all women dislike that. In some regions, it seems very prevalent, with women themselves regularly saying “girl” when they mean someone who might be 28 years old. Nevertheless, I refrain from saying girl to mean woman and I correct my dh when he uses girl for a woman. 

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I don't think noticing you're the only person of a certain sort in a situation is racist. Just like identifying someone by their race, along with other characteristics, isn't racist. Or pointing out that a certain restaurant or store is popular with a particular race isn't racism. Noticing race or racism is not racism.

I think the mention of Jamaica is not awesome though. It implies that the US is not filled with black spaces. Or that being the only white person in a space in the US is somehow wrong or discordant. It implies that in the US, black folks don't belong on beaches. I doubt he was aware that he was implying that. It's an unintentional bias, most likely. But I would try to say something to point it out. Something about how he was observing America's diversity, which has nothing to do with being in another country. It's just America.

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re insisting on keeping on

9 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

In my case, since you picked up on my word exhausting,  I don't insist on keeping on.  But rather it puts quite the wedge between people when everything is open to judging and correction. .  

I try to keep my head down and say very little to anyone anymore, including on this board because there is always someone who will tell me how wrong I am doing things and how offensive I am.  

 

That's what once we know better, we do better looks like.  That's how "intent" and "heart" manifest, the next time round.  

Happily for us all, none of this is a one-time one-off event.  We all get a chance to do better going forward.

Once upon a time we called this, simply, "manners."  In general, when I was a kid my parents taught me to call adults Mr __ or Mrs ___.  But every so often an adult would express a preference that I use their first name, or call her Ms. ____.  And my parents taught me: if someone expresses they want to be called something other than what you're used to, it's manners to go along with their preference. Even if it's different from the default you're used to.

IF our intent is good, it's not exhausting to honor other people's preferences on language, be it evolving language for whole groups or specific outlier preferences for an individual such as your mother.  It's just manners.

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15 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

But thinking a comment is racist doesn’t mean one needs to respond in a certain way.  I can hear a 90 year old use a word, and think “that’s racist” and do literally nothing, or I can say “Hey Grandpa, I think African American is a more current term.” Or I can wait until I am alone with my kids and say “Hey let’s talk for a minute about that word your Great Grandfather used.”  Thinking something is racist doesn’t dictate a certain disrespectful response.

i will also note that “Negro” hasn’t been the way that black people choose to be referred to within my lifetime.  It’s not like that the shift between the R word and the term Intellectual Disability which came much more recently.  There are no Americans currently living who were over 60 when that shift happened.  If some one is still in the habit of using that word then they almost certainly either maintained that word in their vocabulary for many years when they were young enough to hear and make changes, or they have dementia.

 

Sure, you can respond to things depending on the situation and what makes sense.  It's not the case that that particular word is as long gone as you think, it was an option on the census within the last 10 years because some people still self-identified with it.  IN any case, the point is that language is not a simple matter of people all know the right words, or for that matter some group gets to decide what is the right words or things to think.  There are all kinds of reasons people may not do what you expect, will have different experiences, even with fairly simple questions like archaic language.  Many people simply don't put much stock in that kind of examination of language and despite what some people think, it's not clear that they have worse outcomes or are wrong.

In the OPs case, it's not even that obvious, you really have to be making assumptions about his intended meaning and it's far more a matter of positing a thought crime based on flmsy evidence.  

 

14 hours ago, Sneezyone said:

 

We get it. Race is a meaningless construct to you and language never offensive. Do keep in mind that many of us believe being elderly gives one no more right to give deliberate or unintended offense than being young. Just as we train youngsters to do better, so too can we educate our elders. No one is above or beyond learning.

 

That's certainly not what I said, and if you believe it is you aren't listening.

14 hours ago, MissLemon said:

Also, this topic started by OP was about her chiropractor, not a 90 year old person with dementia and who cannot help what comes out of their mouth. "But what about the old people that cannot adapt?!" is a red-herring. 

 

Well, perhaps you should say to the person that brought up using outdated words that you don't think it is relevant.  I believe their point was that if people feel something is offensive, it is offensive, whatever the speaker actually means.  I think that is not clearly true even in cases like that, and in an example like the OPs discussion, even less so.  

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7 minutes ago, Pam in CT said:

re insisting on keeping on

 

That's what once we know better, we do better looks like.  That's how "intent" and "heart" manifest, the next time round.  

Happily for us all, none of this is a one-time one-off event.  We all get a chance to do better going forward.

Once upon a time we called this, simply, "manners."  In general, when I was a kid my parents taught me to call adults Mr __ or Mrs ___.  But every so often an adult would express a preference that I use their first name, or call her Ms. ____.  And my parents taught me: if someone expresses they want to be called something other than what you're used to, it's manners to go along with their preference. Even if it's different from the default you're used to.

IF our intent is good, it's not exhausting to honor other people's preferences on language, be it evolving language for whole groups or specific outlier preferences for an individual such as your mother.  It's just manners.

I’m liking the name analogy (especially as someone who was also raised to use Mr./Mrs./Ms./Miss.). The assumption should always be the “most appropriate”, and informality only when requested. (Even if it irks me to have adults request my children use their first names.)

For example, we’re working on my youngest kids right now, because they’re in an LGBTQ-positive, but quite irreverent family.  My LGBTQ kids crack jokes a million, use hyperbole, play up fake outrage, and do the whole young-people “being ironic” thing.  But my 8yo needs to understand that he can’t walk into a random room of mixed company and ask “Could this get any gayer?!?” He doesn’t get a public pass by virtue of being born into ally-ship.  

Use your outside manners.

 

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To me the bigger problem is that the left, in much of the west, have adopted a number of ideas and practices that are not only useless and time-consuming, they are divisive, and when taken together seem quite dangerous if you have any knowledge of the history of the political left and should seriously worry anyone who thinks its important.

A propensity to examine the comments of people around them for double meanings that can be construed as crossing lines determined by a fairly specific group of people.

A very hierarchical and exclusive mechanism for deciding which voices count

A view that says if people feel offended, something is in fact offensive

A very strong impulse to limit the exchange of ideas which are considered offensive, or could possibly be construed as offensive.  This is most evident at universities but also includes things like casual conversations.  

A resulting tendency for people to have to consider making even casual comments made to neighbours in case they could possibly be seen in the wrong light.

A demand, when people have transgressed, that they immediately accept the correction, admit their error and how harmful it was, and say that they now know better and won't sin again.  

This is not a confluence of tendencies that we should be blasé about.

 

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16 hours ago, Bluegoat said:

 

Some people might find it offensive, but offensive is not racist.  I would argue that taking offence to a 90year old man saying what was considered reasonable and polite when he was younger is quite possibly ageist, and people who think that way might deserve what they get if they don't keep up with language trends when they are elderly.

And the word "black" was once offensive but is now preferred to "negro" by many people with African ancestry.  The words "black, African American, person of color," etc may well be offensive in another time or place.  So yes, I do believe giving a 90 year old grace when there is no ill intent is the way to go.  I have heard elderly black people also use the term "Negro" in a way intended to be respectful.  Also it is a positive label in some countries even now.

Some words are obviously offensive, others are words that some people take offense to, either by choice or because of life experience.  I do think there is a difference.  It is not realistic to expect every human to be educated in all the possible sensitivities of every other human.

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16 hours ago, CuriousMomof3 said:

 

But thinking a comment is racist doesn’t mean one needs to respond in a certain way.  I can hear a 90 year old use a word, and think “that’s racist” and do literally nothing, or I can say “Hey Grandpa, I think African American is a more current term.” Or I can wait until I am alone with my kids and say “Hey let’s talk for a minute about that word your Great Grandfather used.”  Thinking something is racist doesn’t dictate a certain disrespectful response.

i will also note that “Negro” hasn’t been the way that black people choose to be referred to within my lifetime.  It’s not like that the shift between the R word and the term Intellectual Disability which came much more recently.  There are no Americans currently living who were over 60 when that shift happened.  If some one is still in the habit of using that word then they almost certainly either maintained that word in their vocabulary for many years when they were young enough to hear and make changes, or they have dementia.

https://www.uncf.org/

This organization had many commercials on TV when I was young.  (Not sure today - I don't watch TV.)

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16 hours ago, MissLemon said:

 

Then maybe they should refrain from making comments about another person's race if they are unsure of how to have a respectful conversation. 

Most of the "elderly" people walking around the US now lived through the civil rights movement of the 1960s.  People have had 50-odd years to figure out how to behave and speak appropriately.  This argument of "I'm too old to remember the correct word, but I'm perfectly capable of remembering all the wrong words" is pretty thin.  

I also don't think we should be in a position of policing how brown-skinned people refer to themselves.  If a native person refers to themselves as Indian, that does not extrapolate out that every other native person in North America is a-ok with being called "Indian" and that is the socially correct way to refer to that demographic.   

Like, I might refer to myself as "being a b!tch" in a conversation with a friend, but that doesn't mean any man overhearing the conversation should assume all women should now be referred to as "b!tches" and act incredulous when told to stop. 

    

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Negro" was accepted as normal, both as exonym and endonym, until the late 1960s, after the later Civil Rights Movement. One well-known example is the identification by Martin Luther King, Jr. of his own race as "Negro" in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech of 1963.

However, during the 1950s and 1960s, some black American leaders, notably Malcolm X, objected to the word Negro because they associated it with the long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse.[11] Malcolm X preferred Black to Negro, but also started using the term Afro-American after leaving the Nation of Islam.[12]

Since the late 1960s, various other terms have been more widespread in popular usage. These include black, Black African, Afro-American (in use from the late 1960s to 1990) and African American.[13] The word Negro fell out of favor by the early 1970s. However, many older African Americans initially found the term black more offensive than Negro.

The term Negro is still used in some historical contexts, such as the songs known as Negro spirituals, the Negro Leagues of sports in the early and mid-20th century, and organizations such as the United Negro College Fund.[14][15] The academic journal published by Howard University since 1932 still bears the title Journal of Negro Education, but others have changed: e.g. the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (founded 1915) became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History in 1973, and is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History; its publication The Journal of Negro History became The Journal of African American History in 2001. Margo Jefferson titled her 2015 book Negroland: A Memoir to evoke growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in the African-American upper class.

The United States Census Bureau included Negro on the 2010 Census, alongside Black and African-American, because some older black Americans still self-identify with the term.[16][17][18] The U.S. Census now uses the grouping "Black, African-American, or Negro". Negro is used in efforts to include older African Americans who more closely associate with the term.[19] On the other hand, the term has been censored by some newspaper archives.[20]

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Why bother with any of it? Feelings, shmeelings. Open season! Free for all! WOO HOO! If so, why the offense at the ‘racist’ label being applied to anything. It’s just a word, meaningless really.

Seriously, to whom do those benefits redound? Both anecdotally and historically, it won’t benefit any marginalized group.

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2 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

Why bother with any of it? Feelings, shmeelings. Open season! Free for all! WOO HOO! If so, why the offense at the ‘racist’ label being applied to anything. It’s just a word, meaningless really.

Seriously, to whom do those benefits redound? Both anecdotally and historically, it won’t benefit any marginalized group.

I am as considerate and kind as I can be.  And I do my best to surround myself with people who know that and who trust me and I trust them.  What some random stranger says to me or about me is not something I spend a lot of time worrying about.  I have no illusion that the world can be significantly changed by humans. 

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6 minutes ago, Scarlett said:

I am as considerate and kind as I can be.  And I do my best to surround myself with people who know that and who trust me and I trust them.  What some random stranger says to me or about me is not something I spend a lot of time worrying about.  I have no illusion that the world can be significantly changed by humans. 

 

Thats great. I don’t share the belief that I have no role in or obligation to make the world better for others. I’m sure there were many persecuted groups who also thought ignoring mere words was the right course of action. Ultimately, they are usually proved wrong. This whole (ignore the offense) logic presupposes that words are both irrelevant and harmless. Nothing in human history supports the validity of that assumption. Words DO matter. Words are often used to delegitimize the humanity of others. Words are used to desensitize bystanders. Your random stranger may be someone else’s tormenter.

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30 minutes ago, Sneezyone said:

 

Thats great. I don’t share the belief that I have no role in or obligation to make the world better for others. I’m sure there were many persecuted groups who also thought ignoring mere words was the right course of action. Ultimately, they are usually proved wrong. This whole (ignore the offense) logic presupposes that words are both irrelevant and harmless. Nothing in human history supports the validity of that assumption. Words DO matter. Words are often used to delegitimize the humanity of others. Words are used to desensitize bystanders. Your random stranger may be someone else’s tormenter.

Exactly this.

 

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1 hour ago, Sneezyone said:

 

Thats great. I don’t share the belief that I have no role in or obligation to make the world better for others. I’m sure there were many persecuted groups who also thought ignoring mere words was the right course of action. Ultimately, they are usually proved wrong. This whole (ignore the offense) logic presupposes that words are both irrelevant and harmless. Nothing in human history supports the validity of that assumption. Words DO matter. Words are often used to delegitimize the humanity of others. Words are used to desensitize bystanders. Your random stranger may be someone else’s tormenter.

I do what I can for individuals. I don’t try to change the world.  

Yes words matter but only to the extent I value the opinion of the speaker.  

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2 hours ago, Scarlett said:

I do what I can for individuals. I don’t try to change the world.  

Yes words matter but only to the extent I value the opinion of the speaker.  

This is the thing that it always comes back to - intent. If the speaker didn't intend to harm, then no harm can be done? So if you don't know that a term upsets people, it's always okay to use it? No one can correct you? How far does it go? If a manager doesn't mean to exclude black applicants and doesn't have racism in his heart, then the pattern of exclusion in their hiring is absolutely always okay and it would be offensive to point it out? If a teacher only wants to help people of color and makes an effort to do special black history lessons for February, but their records show that they consistently assign more detentions to black kids for the same things that white kids just get a note home, then that can't be racism and the black kids should just suck it up?

Honestly, I feel like pointing out patterns in behavior and ways that people are upset and harmed by words, is now considered to be the thing that's the real offense. It's nonsense. If you want to do better and help people on any level - individual or greater - then don't take it personally. Just try to be better. That's it. When people say something that I think crosses a line, especially something like in the OP, I wouldn't assume it was intentional or that the speaker was a bad person. But if the response to, gosh, that's offensive is "I can say whatever I want because I didn't intend to offend" instead of "I didn't mean it, what did I mess up?" then I start to have a different view.

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4 hours ago, SKL said:

Excerpt from Wikipedia:

"Negro" was accepted as normal, both as exonym and endonym, until the late 1960s, after the later Civil Rights Movement. One well-known example is the identification by Martin Luther King, Jr. of his own race as "Negro" in his famous "I Have a Dream" speech of 1963.

However, during the 1950s and 1960s, some black American leaders, notably Malcolm X, objected to the word Negro because they associated it with the long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse.[11] Malcolm X preferred Black to Negro, but also started using the term Afro-American after leaving the Nation of Islam.[12]

Since the late 1960s, various other terms have been more widespread in popular usage. These include black, Black African, Afro-American (in use from the late 1960s to 1990) and African American.[13] The word Negro fell out of favor by the early 1970s. However, many older African Americans initially found the term black more offensive than Negro.

The term Negro is still used in some historical contexts, such as the songs known as Negro spirituals, the Negro Leagues of sports in the early and mid-20th century, and organizations such as the United Negro College Fund.[14][15] The academic journal published by Howard University since 1932 still bears the title Journal of Negro Education, but others have changed: e.g. the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (founded 1915) became the Association for the Study of Afro-American Life and History in 1973, and is now the Association for the Study of African American Life and History; its publication The Journal of Negro History became The Journal of African American History in 2001. Margo Jefferson titled her 2015 book Negroland: A Memoir to evoke growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in the African-American upper class.

The United States Census Bureau included Negro on the 2010 Census, alongside Black and African-American, because some older black Americans still self-identify with the term.[16][17][18] The U.S. Census now uses the grouping "Black, African-American, or Negro". Negro is used in efforts to include older African Americans who more closely associate with the term.[19] On the other hand, the term has been censored by some newspaper archives.[20]

 

I have no idea what point you are making by quoting wikipedia's definition and history of the term "negro" in reference to what I wrote. 

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

This is the thing that it always comes back to - intent. If the speaker didn't intend to harm, then no harm can be done? So if you don't know that a term upsets people, it's always okay to use it? No one can correct you? How far does it go? If a manager doesn't mean to exclude black applicants and doesn't have racism in his heart, then the pattern of exclusion in their hiring is absolutely always okay and it would be offensive to point it out? If a teacher only wants to help people of color and makes an effort to do special black history lessons for February, but their records show that they consistently assign more detentions to black kids for the same things that white kids just get a note home, then that can't be racism and the black kids should just suck it up?

Honestly, I feel like pointing out patterns in behavior and ways that people are upset and harmed by words, is now considered to be the thing that's the real offense. It's nonsense. If you want to do better and help people on any level - individual or greater - then don't take it personally. Just try to be better. That's it. When people say something that I think crosses a line, especially something like in the OP, I wouldn't assume it was intentional or that the speaker was a bad person. But if the response to, gosh, that's offensive is "I can say whatever I want because I didn't intend to offend" instead of "I didn't mean it, what did I mess up?" then I start to have a different view.

I am not offended.  I am just tired.  I prefer to just stay in my little corner of the world and not risk offending people or saying or doing the wrong thing.  I guess I am not as enlightened as all  y'all who are so eager to change the world and learn and grow.  I just want to get through the work week.  

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2 hours ago, Farrar said:

This is the thing that it always comes back to - intent. If the speaker didn't intend to harm, then no harm can be done? So if you don't know that a term upsets people, it's always okay to use it? No one can correct you? How far does it go? If a manager doesn't mean to exclude black applicants and doesn't have racism in his heart, then the pattern of exclusion in their hiring is absolutely always okay and it would be offensive to point it out? If a teacher only wants to help people of color and makes an effort to do special black history lessons for February, but their records show that they consistently assign more detentions to black kids for the same things that white kids just get a note home, then that can't be racism and the black kids should just suck it up?

Honestly, I feel like pointing out patterns in behavior and ways that people are upset and harmed by words, is now considered to be the thing that's the real offense. It's nonsense. If you want to do better and help people on any level - individual or greater - then don't take it personally. Just try to be better. That's it. When people say something that I think crosses a line, especially something like in the OP, I wouldn't assume it was intentional or that the speaker was a bad person. But if the response to, gosh, that's offensive is "I can say whatever I want because I didn't intend to offend" instead of "I didn't mean it, what did I mess up?" then I start to have a different view.

To be clear I don't think the bolded either.  I just feel like I personally can not possibly please everyone.  I do the best I can to be kind when I need to interact with strangers and the rest of the time I am with people who know me and love me.

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There is a lot of all or nothing on this thread.  Of course people should try to be sensitive in their speech.  Of course if you know something is considered offensive you should not say it.  The fact is that nobody knows all the things that can offend the individuals within earshot at any given moment.  That is never going to change, no matter how many people set out to change the world.  And beating people up because they didn't know xyz was a loaded term is not going to make the world a kinder place.

When I've been around people who say words that might be slurs to some hearers, I will gently point out that some people (or many or most people) would consider that racist, along with some history as to why.  Pretty much 100% of people will at least intend to avoid that term in mixed company going forward.  Most will also try to avoid it in private.  But not everyone will remember the next time the word comes to their lips.  We all have weaknesses.

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At the risk  of offending some or many of you, I find it quite interesting that people who claim to be sensitive to the feelings of others and not wanting to offend anyone with their speech  seem to assume the worst and read way too much into comments of people around them.  How does it work exactly?

It reminds me of a completely unrelated story from years ago.  I was on a date, we were in a car and they guy was driving.  I crossed my legs, my left leg over my right one, so kind of away from him. When we got out of the car he made a comment that it doesn't seem like I was too much into him based on how I was sitting (evidently he considered himself a body language expert). I told him that I was very much into him and thus sat in a way that made my legs look better and more attractive. But since he seem to read me so well, he doesn't really need me around, he can do it all on his own.

I think it's quite bold of people to think that their assumptions and presumptions of others - their thought process, their actions are that accurate.

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It's hard to read a statement like the one given in the OP as anything other than "I don't feel like it's America if there aren't enough white people" - and I think you have to twist those words into a pretzel to not conclude that, on some level, the speaker doesn't think that non-whites are the same sort of citizen as whites.

This isn't some vague thing like how you were sitting in the car.

Edited by Tanaqui
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31 minutes ago, SereneHome said:

At the risk  of offending some or many of you, I find it quite interesting that people who claim to be sensitive to the feelings of others and not wanting to offend anyone with their speech  seem to assume the worst and read way too much into comments of people around them.  How does it work exactly?

It reminds me of a completely unrelated story from years ago.  I was on a date, we were in a car and they guy was driving.  I crossed my legs, my left leg over my right one, so kind of away from him. When we got out of the car he made a comment that it doesn't seem like I was too much into him based on how I was sitting (evidently he considered himself a body language expert). I told him that I was very much into him and thus sat in a way that made my legs look better and more attractive. But since he seem to read me so well, he doesn't really need me around, he can do it all on his own.

I think it's quite bold of people to think that their assumptions and presumptions of others - their thought process, their actions are that accurate.

 

Some people indicated that they would ask clarifying questions or make statements that might draw the speaker into the open WRT his/her intentions (and make clear their own). There were others who said they would interpret the comments, as issued, as an attempt to find common ground with a like-minded individual. Still others felt the COMMENTS were racist on their face regardless of intent. At the risk of offending, the discussion has actually been far more nuanced than offensive language is a civilization-destroying myth and  we should all hide from the world in some proverbial cave lest we give offense.

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