About a mother-to-be using racist language about her baby?

(131 Posts)

Met a friends sister recently, and she mentioned that she was pregnant. She is white and the father of the baby is black. Several times throughout the evening she referred to her unborn baby by using a racist term.

I found this very uncomfortable but decided not to say anything about it as I didn't want to cause an argument, however my friend noticed and asked her to apologise to me - which she did but half-heatedly.

Normally I would always challenge someone using language which I consider offensive, I didn't on this occasion as if she is in a relationship with someone of a different colour then surely she cannot actually be a racist, maybe she was just making a poor decision of a joke? She is definitely still in a relationship with the father of the baby, as she was arranging to meet him later that evening.

WIBU by not challenging her choice of language?

Ugh what a horrid word. I agree with the others she sounds like a thicko. sad

Sorry, have I entered yet another parallel MN universe?

When has Nig nog ever NOT been racist, she's with a black guy, yet she's using that foul word about her unborn baby.
Yes, under the circumstances YWBU not to tell her to shut her stupid trap.

CaptainVonTrapp Thu 03-Jan-13 21:08:26

Exactly Holly and thats the problem with accusing someone of racism.

Nixea I really hope there is no one here is offended by a discussion about the use of a word. Perhaps if someone had discussed it with your friend she wouldn't have used it.

KRITIQ Thu 03-Jan-13 21:22:11

Just because someone is in a relationship with a person who is Black or from another minority ethnic group or has a mixed heritage child doesn't mean they can't be racist. In a similar vein, there are plenty of men who are sexist with very low opinions of women, despite having female partners or daughters.

It's a pretty nasty thing to say, not only about your own child, but having no idea, for example, whether or not you might have someone in your own family or close to you who is Black. Maybe she has some kind of agreement with her partner that they can refer to each other using racist terms, but like people who insist it's perfectly "normal" and fun to refer to their partners as bitches, bastards, sluts, etc., I'm not entirely convinced it's that benign. In any case, that doesn't mean one should expect everyone else to accept the terms you choose without an eyeblink.

It reminds me sadly of a former colleague who was mix heritage who grew up with racist taunts from her white mother and half brother from her mother's previous relationship. It zapped her self esteem and took her years to scrape some back (and took cutting her mother's family out completely - they never "got" what the problem was.) angry

JamieandtheMagiTorch Thu 03-Jan-13 21:25:00

She sounds not-very-bright.

I wait to be corrected, but I don't think it's a term anyone would use about themselves, although I do take the point about reclaiming language

notnagging Thu 03-Jan-13 21:27:17

You should have said something. It is clearly a racist term & if racism is not challenged people think its acceptable. I feel sorry for her unborn dc who will have issues around their identity having an ignorant mother like that.

notnagging Thu 03-Jan-13 21:28:53

Totally agree with kritiq

CloudsAndTrees Thu 03-Jan-13 21:30:20

Being in a relationship with someone from a different race doesn't mean that you can't be racist.

I agree with this. It is also very possible to be from an ethnic minority and be very racist.

I don't think the girl in the OP was being racist though, it sounds more like she was ignorant.

JamieandtheMagiTorch Thu 03-Jan-13 21:30:40

KRITIQ

Agree

PartridgeInASpicyPearTree Thu 03-Jan-13 21:55:53

I'm a bit shocked as I have never heard this word before. It's really horrid, literally made me squirm a bit and pull a face just reading it.

I agree that being in a relationship with a black man does not mean that she is not racist. It's hard to judge not having been there but I struggle to see how this could come out in even a misguided "funny" or "nice" way. And I can see that she could really cause some distress to her child by referring to them using a racially based nickname/insult. But, on balance I think YWNBU. In an ideal world I think you should have said something, but I can see why the whole thing would have been a bit shocking and you would therefore not have done, iyskwim!

StinkyWicket Thu 03-Jan-13 22:05:13

She sounds very much like some 'hipster' types I know, who think that if you use a racist term 'ironically' (not sure they know what ironic means actually) it means you're not racist. Makes me really angry actually.

Boomerwang Thu 03-Jan-13 22:43:12

Sorry that I can't add anything helpful, but I wanted to thank people for pointing out that 'half caste' is NOT an acceptable way to describe someone's dual heritage. I had no idea and I would have really put my foot in it one day.

Damash12 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:51:24

Wow what a stupid woman, hope she doesn't think it's ok to call the baby that when he/she arrives. I imagine she is trying to be funny and out there but clearly making herself look an idiot. Now here goes, don't know if I should risk this but I didn't think/ know half caste was derogatory. I thought that was the correct terminology for child with mixed race parents. Bloody hell am I really that out of date???

Damash12 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:54:48

Ooh boomerwang Wendy have been typing at the same time, glad it's not just me. Can I dare to ask why that is wrong now. I'm sure I still see that phrase in the newspapers if describing someone.

Damash12 Thu 03-Jan-13 22:56:11

We must not Wendy - bloody phone!!

degutastic Thu 03-Jan-13 22:57:57

It makes me think of Stephen K Amos and his jokes where he refers to himself and family using the same term. It could have been a poor joke along similar lines, or even in direct reference to that, which might be in poor taste, but isn't necessarily racist.

AmberLeaf Thu 03-Jan-13 23:00:16

Yeah half caste is well out of date.,

The woman in the OP sounds like a fool.

Amazed that anyone in their 20s would even use that term!

NotOnTheBeach Thu 03-Jan-13 23:01:00

Was going to post the same as KRITIQ.

When has being married to a woman been a guarantee that a man isn't misogynistic?

No ambivalence about a phrase like nignog, really. She sounds utterly stupid.

Jins Thu 03-Jan-13 23:01:05

I can't remember exactly when half caste stopped being used but it was sometime in the 1980s

I'd not heard it or seen it written for a long time before joining MN

trapclap Thu 03-Jan-13 23:04:33

pity that child sad

it will have zero self-esteem, with a mother like that

NotOnTheBeach Thu 03-Jan-13 23:05:01

John Agard's poem 'Half Caste' was in an anthology by 2002.

I am sure I knew half caste was outdated by the early - mid 80s.

Dominodonkey Thu 03-Jan-13 23:06:41

OP - are you black/mixed race?(or is the term dual heritage now)

Is that why the other people in the group were looking at you in an apologetic manner?

LizzieVereker Thu 03-Jan-13 23:08:19

"half caste" implies that a person is somehow lesser for being "only" half a race - that somehow being mixed devalues a person - this poem explains it much better than I could:
www.intermix.org.uk/poetry/poetry_01_agard.asp

LizzieVereker Thu 03-Jan-13 23:10:01

Sorr, NotOnThe Beach, cross posted!

Caste was a system of measuring purity. So to say half caste would imply that only half of you would be pure IYSWIM.

I only have a few friends with children of mixed ethnicity, so I don't speak from broad experience, but the terms mixed race, biracial and mixed ethnicity are used more commonly I think.

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