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Did he really just SAY that?!? (UPDATED)

Posted by Lissa on March 1, 2012

As I placidly munched my almond-decorated salad yesterday, a couple opened the office door and came in. Elderly, well-dressed and polite, they asked if the lady could use our bathroom, as the doctor’s office had closed for lunch and she really needed to go. I waved her in the direction of the facilities and made polite conversation with the man while he waited.

When he talked about the hopelessness of inflation and degradation of the currency, I politely agreed but optimistically argued that perhaps the euro falling apart and the reappearance of the Greek drachma would be a harbinger of more common sense.

When he talked about scummy politicians who don’t read the Constitution, I inquired if he was in favor of a Constitutional amendment imposing term limits and discussed why that might be a good or bad idea.

But then . . . when he said he had no faith in the system and talked about power-hungry politicians . . . this phrase came out of his mouth:

“And our illustrious colored leader in Washington . . .”

I have no idea what the rest of the sentence was. I blanked.

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a real live person – not a stereotype on TV – use that word. I was floored.

Now, to give the guy his due, he was definitely old enough to have lived in the times when “colored” was the polite term to use. It’s like the word “retard,” which is now a mean and nasty slur but was once the polite and kind descriptor (as opposed to “idiot” or “moron”).

I held myself to a blank expression and polite attention for the next few minutes until they left.

UPDATE: Thank you for the comments, everyone. I think I should have emphasized that the italics were in the originals and not added by me. The dude sneered the term, with emphasis. That’s what really threw me. I don’t think too highly of Pres Obama, as you know; when I consider his skin color, it’s because I see him as an “affirmative action” candidate, in that I truly do not think a white man with identical accomplishments (or lack thereof), mentors, baggage and history would have been elected. But I am *not* used to hearing people denigrate the man and his position with color-laden pejoratives.

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5 Responses to “Did he really just SAY that?!? (UPDATED)”

  1. julie said

    statement of fact, can’t see the problem …

  2. momiss said

    I have to laugh, being 46 and having lived through “darkeys”, “colored”, “black”, and most recently “african-American”. I only capitalized the American because I am one and have never understood the hyphenating of countries. To my way of thinking, you are American or you are not, period. But then I am getting old and crotchety. Who knew it would ever come back in style?
    The only defense I can offer is that to this man, they themselves have decided to call themselves various different things every time he has turned around.
    I also have to mention that this PC world we are living in is nothing but a bubble, and I promise you it will burst. People are what they are, and all the pretty words we make up do nothing to change that. I hope this doesn’t sound like I am a bigot because I don’t think I am, our illustrious leader is an idiot in my opinion, what color he is doesn’t enter into it for me. However, I have lived through the years where you weren’t a garbage man, you were a “domestic engineer”, not bald but “follically challenged”, etc.
    It’s about time for the PC bubble to burst, and at least he didn’t use the N word. 😉

  3. oh good lord! Well, yeah, you’re right, I think the age thing explains a lot. I mean, even my grandfather used to use that word, and he used to be called a chink back in his day, so…
    Now, I recall a similar exchange I had with a girl I knew from skating, back in the day. Except she was 16 and from Hadley (maybe the Hadley thing explains it?)!!! She was telling me a story about one of the zamboni drivers, and I asked “which one,” and she replied, “the colored one.” I was floored! But, her being 16 at the time, and additionally several years younger than myself, (Oh – and the fact that we were in AMHERST!) I decided to inform her, cautiously, that “we don’t use that term anymore, sweetie.”

  4. Brad Kruse said

    What struck me, is that he used the word ‘colored’ in a correct fashion. Obama is mixed race, the definition of ‘colored’, back in the day. The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was created to support those of mixed race, those people with mixed ancestry that were, at the time, ostracized by both the white and the solely black peoples. It took a lot of years for marriage between the races to be accepted — and the progeny of mixed race parents to not be considered born out of wedlock, at a time when children born out of wedlock were a mark of personal and social shame and rejection.

    Today there is still a social stigma, though slight, toward mixed race couples, but the children are generally accepted ‘at face value’. In this sense, the guy’s statement sounds more like a simple racial observation than the more stigmatized social pejorative reference about his parentage.

    Myself, I tend to characterize our President and my disappointments in him, his party, and the nation that elected him, in economic, criminal, and philosophical failings. That is, I see what he does before I consider his racial heritage.

  5. guffaw1952 said

    Political correctness will be our death. regardless…
    I worked back in the 70’s as security at an ‘urgent care’ facility.
    We had a patient show up in dire straights, who refused care from the night nurse,
    a black lady.
    Upon going home, he called in to complain. Not knowing the person answering the
    telephone was the aforementioned nurse.
    “I wanna complain about you having a colored nurse!”
    “Really? What color WAS she?”
    click.

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