Oh no she didn’t

I am sitting in Murky Coffee and the woman sitting next to me (no, not my wife – the one on the other side) just made references to someone’s “brown” girlfriend, explaining that she is “mulatto” but that she’s really cute anyway. All this is on a cell phone call at normal volume. There are seven people in the room, all within easy earshot.

Does anyone still say mulatto? I thought that word went out of style with “colored” and “Negro.”

This same person is using all sorts of profanity as well, so I shouldn’t be surprised by the racial slurs. I guess public is the new private when it comes to embarrassing things you can say during a phone call.

9 Comments so far

  1. Max (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 2:47 pm

    The world is full of very strange people and it sounds like you were sitting next to one of them!

  2. John (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 5:08 pm

    I have only seen “mulatto” used in historical contexts.

  3. Gabe (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

    People just say the darndest things while on their cell phones. I one heard a woman at a computer store talking about one man’s affection for internet porn, and how he needs a ‘certain drug’ to get it on.

    I think it’s pretty obvious that cell phones should be abolished and pray for the return on phone booths! :-P

    As for the racial comment– sigh. Some people need to wake up.

  4. Dee (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 5:19 pm

    People have no discretion anymore when it comes to what business they put in the streets. Tacky and tactless.

  5. chimprage (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 8:51 pm

    being one…we dont like that word

  6. Ignorant (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 9:39 am

    OMG, well, I feel rather embarrassed and obvious I’ve been under a rock. I’ve used that word, not knowing that it is an insult and I would like to apologize. I grew up in Baltimore City until I was 10 and then somewhere along the way in Toronto or living in London, I must have picked it up, not understanding. Thanks for writing about this, otherwise, I would still be using it.

  7. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 11:41 am

    Ignorant – don’t be so quick to call yourself that. My wife, who is from Toronto, said she didn’t think it had a negative connotation. The term’s pejorative use may be restricted to the US. I don’t know.

  8. xian (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

    I still use it. I don’t know that I’m apologetic for it since it’s not quite so obvious as other slurs.

    Also, no offense to Chimprage, but I know black people who don’t like being called “black” and others who don’t like being called “African American”. You don’t like being called ‘mulatto’, Cool, good to know. But that’s not to say someone else of mixed background feels the same way.

  9. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

    Xian – nobody is asking you to be apologetic, just to moderate your speech a little, perhaps. And you are right about the black/African American labels but that shouldn’t give you free license to use whatever language you want, regardless of how others feel about it. For general reference, it is better to err on the side of slightly less offensive.

    I have heard older black people refer to “colored” people but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for me to use that term.

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