Archived Did I do the right thing?

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Okay, so today my GSA referred to an African American cashier as "that little colored boy" to me while we were on the front ends well within earshot of guests. I told my ETL-HR because I figured she'd rather hear it from me rather than an offended guest. Anyone else have problems with coworkers using terms that might not be suitable for guests to hear? Did I overreact by going to HR?
 

StaticSun

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There are ways of referring to, and describing people.

This is not one of those ways.
 
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Okay, so today my GSA referred to an African American cashier as "that little colored boy" to me while we were on the front ends well within earshot of guests. I told my ETL-HR because I figured she'd rather hear it from me rather than an offended guest. Anyone else have problems with coworkers using terms that might not be suitable for guests to hear? Did I overreact by going to HR?

I see you are not from the south.

As someone who lives in the south, I can tell you that *lots* of older people here still use the term "colored" instead of african american. (hell, some government agencies here still do) It's not meant to be offensive, it is simply used instead of african american, which is used more often in the north. Usually younger people here will say african american, but people here 50 years and older will almost always say colored.

You have to understand that a few decades ago, "colored" was the politically correct way to say african american. The "N word" was the racist word used to refer to african americans. Many older people grew up with those words, and when they say "colored" they are actually trying to be respectful. Again, let me reiterate, "colored" has always been a politically correct word. It simply lost favor to an even more politically correct term - african american. Just like "indian" went to "native american". "Indian" was the politically correct word, the racist terms were "red skin" "injun" "half-breed". "Indian" was never a racist word, and just because native american is the newer term doesn't mean that "indian" is now racist.

Again - "colored" was *never* a racist term. If you went back in time to the 1950's and used the word "colored" at a KKK meeting, they would probably try to kill you because that was the respectful way to refer to african americans. Just because "colored" isn't used much anymore (especially in the north) doesn't mean it has suddenly become a racist word.

Another example is that older people will say "bill fold" when they mean "wallet". Chances are 99% of people under age 50 probably will never use the word "bill fold". Just because it isn't a common word anymore doesn't mean it is suddenly bad, or ever WAS bad to begin with.

Now, if your GSA is not older and from the south it is kind of weird she would say colored instead of african american, because she wouldn't have grown up being taught to use that term.... so not sure where she would have learned it from, unless maybe her parents were from the south.
 
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I think you should of kept it to yourself. If she said oh that black boy or oh that white boy would you still have told? People need to stop being offended and grow thicker skin! How can we ever move past racism if we are complain every single time an "offensive" word is said. Now if she had said that n**** over there, its a,different story.
 
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I disagree. Reporting to your etl-hr is the correct action. Better to report it than come up on a guest survey form.

Jesus christ on a cross. COLORED IS NOT A RACIST WORD. A few decades ago, it was the POLITICALLY CORRECT term for african american before the term "african american" existed. Older people in the south use this term every day.

Ever heard of the NAACP? National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People???? Anyone? You think the NAACP would use a derogatory word to refer to themselves?

Please people, pickup a history book.
 
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Agreed!!
Jesus christ on a cross. COLORED IS NOT A RACIST WORD. A few decades ago, it was the POLITICALLY CORRECT term for african american before the term "african american" existed. Older people in the south use this term every day.

Ever heard of the NAACP? National Association for the Advancement of COLORED People???? Anyone? You think the NAACP would use a derogatory word to refer to themselves?

Please people, pickup a history book.
 
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Most GSAs are not over 50, at least not in my store. Referring to "that colored boy" has a certain connotation, and an on the clock GSA should know much, much, much better.
 

redeye58

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I AM from "the south" & only someone in their 80s would ever refer to someone as "that colored boy".
I doubt VERY much that the GSA in question is from that generation.
"Colored" may have not been racist (in the past) but to refer to a black male as "boy" was/still is ALWAYS offensive.
 
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Okay, so today my GSA referred to an African American cashier as "that little colored boy" to me while we were on the front ends well within earshot of guests. I told my ETL-HR because I figured she'd rather hear it from me rather than an offended guest. Anyone else have problems with coworkers using terms that might not be suitable for guests to hear? Did I overreact by going to HR?

If you were uncomfortable about a situation, you did the right thing by going to HR. I'm not saying the GSA will get in trouble, or that she should, but you should always feel OK about going to HR about a situation that doesn't feel quite right to you. As someone else said, referring to any one of the cashiers as a "little boy" is inappropriate enough. Be respectful! As long as you didn't go into the conversation with the mindset of wanting to get her fired, I don't feel you were in the wrong.
 
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The GSA should know better. Whatever the word meant in the past...it's something that may offend people now, right or wrong. The GSA needs to be aware of their surroundings and the environment they are in. It didn't need to happen.
 

pellinore

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I know that this might sound odd, but calling all "black" people "African-American" seems to me to be offensive, too. The idea that all "black" people are from Africa is wrong. There are plenty of dark-skinned individuals that do not come from Africa.

One of the most famous and highly respected individuals in American entertainment...as well as a Civil Rights leader.....is Sydney Poitier. Calling him an "African-American" is probably one of the worst things a person could say. He's actually from Jamaica.

OK, I realize that this is just one example, but to assume that all "blacks" are from Africa is presumptuous and judgmental. Besides, there are plenty of people, no matter what their background or their race, who call themselves "American" long before they'll say "European-American"....or..."Russian-American".....or "African-American."
 
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Colored in the north is offensive. Boy anywhere is offensive. As a store that prides itself on diversity according to the orientation video, you absolutely did the right thing. And as a white woman, that comment would make me uncomfortable and offend my sensibilities.
 
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I see you are not from the south.

As someone who lives in the south, I can tell you that *lots* of older people here still use the term "colored" instead of african american. (hell, some government agencies here still do) It's not meant to be offensive, it is simply used instead of african american, which is used more often in the north. Usually younger people here will say african american, but people here 50 years and older will almost always say colored.

You have to understand that a few decades ago, "colored" was the politically correct way to say african american. The "N word" was the racist word used to refer to african americans. Many older people grew up with those words, and when they say "colored" they are actually trying to be respectful. Again, let me reiterate, "colored" has always been a politically correct word. It simply lost favor to an even more politically correct term - african american. Just like "indian" went to "native american". "Indian" was the politically correct word, the racist terms were "red skin" "injun" "half-breed". "Indian" was never a racist word, and just because native american is the newer term doesn't mean that "indian" is now racist.

Again - "colored" was *never* a racist term. If you went back in time to the 1950's and used the word "colored" at a KKK meeting, they would probably try to kill you because that was the respectful way to refer to african americans. Just because "colored" isn't used much anymore (especially in the north) doesn't mean it has suddenly become a racist word.

Another example is that older people will say "bill fold" when they mean "wallet". Chances are 99% of people under age 50 probably will never use the word "bill fold". Just because it isn't a common word anymore doesn't mean it is suddenly bad, or ever WAS bad to begin with.

Now, if your GSA is not older and from the south it is kind of weird she would say colored instead of african american, because she wouldn't have grown up being taught to use that term.... so not sure where she would have learned it from, unless maybe her parents were from the south.

I'm also from the south.
Colored isn't meant to be offensive, as State said. It, at one time, was politically correct. But, I can see where the OP was coming from if he or she is not from the South. Also, the context of the conversation can easily dictate in what way the GSA meant. There's a difference between "Look at that little colored boy" and "can you cover, uh, that little colored boy's break on check lane 19".
 
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mxrbook

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I'm from the South, I'm over 50, and I find it offensive to call anyone a little colored boy in any context. What would your reaction be if they called you a little yellow boy? What once may have been acceptable is no longer, in polite circles anyway.
 
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I'm from the South, I'm over 50, and I find it offensive to call anyone a little colored boy in any context. What would your reaction be if they called you a little yellow boy? What once may have been acceptable is no longer, in polite circles anyway.

Yellow was never acceptable and has always been a derogatory word. Totally different.
 
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mxrbook

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Totally different how? In both instances, you are pointing out that the person is not white, thus commenting on his race. It's okay to be known as "colored" black but not yellow? That seems odd to me.
 
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The bottom line is that you should NEVER refer to any employee (or customer, for that matter, or in my opinion ANYBODY) by race or color. However, in the workplace it is REALLY out of place.
 

candyland

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I know that this might sound odd, but calling all "black" people "African-American" seems to me to be offensive, too. The idea that all "black" people are from Africa is wrong. There are plenty of dark-skinned individuals that do not come from Africa.

One of the most famous and highly respected individuals in American entertainment...as well as a Civil Rights leader.....is Sydney Poitier. Calling him an "African-American" is probably one of the worst things a person could say. He's actually from Jamaica.

OK, I realize that this is just one example, but to assume that all "blacks" are from Africa is presumptuous and judgmental. Besides, there are plenty of people, no matter what their background or their race, who call themselves "American" long before they'll say "European-American"....or..."Russian-American".....or "African-American."

I was going to mention some of these points, but decided to stay out of it. Thanks!
 
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I'm from the south also. Anyone trying to justify using colored to refer to a black person is just stupid. Anyone trying to justify using boy to refer to a man is just stupid. I'm not getting into the whole AA thing, it has it's place to be used just as Caucasian does, I use black and white in everyday settings. No one gives one **** if you don't mean something to be racist, sexist, or any other kind of ist, use your head.
 
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Totally different how? In both instances, you are pointing out that the person is not white, thus commenting on his race. It's okay to be known as "colored" black but not yellow? That seems odd to me.

It is a descriptive feature. If you don't know someones name, you must use a descriptive feature in order to refer to them. When the cops get on the radio and say "we are looking for a black, white, asian, etc guy" is that racist? It is a freaking description. We don't know what the scene was at this Target store. For all we know, every other cashier was white and only major difference between any of them was race. Maybe she sould have said "the guy in the target shirt". I'm sure that would have be very specific....

So what should the GSA have said instead? "The fat guy over there" "The guy with the ugly scar on his face" "The guy that has the mean facial expression"

You never know *what* is going to cause someone to complain, even if you clearly didn't mean offense. (which I am 99% sure this GSA had no intention of doing) Hell, you could probably say "the guy with the brown hair" and get a complaint from some people.

This thread is a perfect example of what is wrong with this country. I am not saying it should be OK to run around and insult people, but playing the racism/sexism/whatever card everytime you think you can for no point other than to do it is just freaking nuts. Now, watch this guest sue Target for $10 million and win. Gotta love america.

I actually think the ones who pull the racism card for rediculous crap like this every chance they get (when there is a huge probability the GSA was not trying to be offensive) are actually the racist ones. Exactly the way the biggest anti-gay homophobes usually turn out to be gay themselves.... or how boyfriends/girlfriends who always accuse their partner of cheating are usually the ones cheating. Funny how that works.....

And as far as the people making the "boy" comment..... It sounds extremely probable to me that this GSA is probably old. Old people often refer to teenagers and even people in their 20's as "boy and girls" or "kids". Jesus, do none of you people have a grandma?
 
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