exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

irony is…

by Jen at 9:18 pm on 18.11.2008 | 4 Comments
filed under: blurblets, mundane mayhem

hearing someone use the term “coloured” during an equalities and diversity training.



  • 1

    Comment by expatmonkey

    19.11.2008 @ 12:04 pm

    No offense, but as far as I know, “coloured” is in no way a derogatory term in the UK. I’m sure it sounds different to American ears, but here it’s pretty much neutral. That’s not to say the use of the word shouldn’t be examined, but my point is, I’m sure it wasn’t meant in a condescending or malicious way.

    There, I’ve delurked myself, and now you hate me ) I do enjoy the blog, though; you’re an amazing writer.

  • 2

    Comment by Strawberry

    19.11.2008 @ 15:54 pm

    As an American expat, I can understand how wrong it feels to our ears, but having known a lot of completely non-racist Brits (and, for that matter, people of colour) who use the word “coloured”, I have come to realise it is only a derogatory term in the certain geographic areas where it actually is a derogatory term. Elsewhere, it is just a descriptive word, with no necessarily associated good or bad connotation.

    I think one of the hardest things about being an expat is shedding our own sense of the absolute, and seeing things — even shocking things — with fresh eyes and an open mind.

  • 3

    Comment by Jen

    19.11.2008 @ 18:10 pm

    i’m not implying the person had racist intent.

    however even in the uk, “coloured” is in fact, considered at best very antiquated, and at worst, highly offensive by many people in the bme community. it may not be said with derogatory intent, but it is considered to be inappropriate. it comes from a time when anyone non-white was lumped into a gross catchall term which had nothing to do with their ethnicity. more importantly, it was also a term used by people in power to describe people in the minority, and therefore does not reflect the wishes or preferences of those being spoken about *today*. for example, people today in the uk (usually) choose to call themselves black british/black caribbean/black african/afro-caribbean.

    it is *particularly* offensive when used by senior managers in local government, as was the case here, because it is *our job* to be responsive and respectful to the people from the communities we serve – and that includes using proper terminology.

  • 4

    Comment by Stacey

    20.11.2008 @ 05:54 am

    Yes: local people = white and “other” roll

    I know what you’re saying, completely.

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