Thanks Rae, that’s interesting and makes sense.

I’m from the UK. I’ve heard about signs that used to be posted outside rooms to rent stating “no blacks, no Irish, no dogs” in the 1950’s and 1960’s in the UK. In fact I came across this interesting arcticle earlier But I grew up in the 1970’s with the term “coloured people” as the default way of referring to a non-white person.

The term “people of colo(u)r” is making inroads over here now. And the elderly, generally 80 or older, are still likely to say “coloured people” because they think it is more polite than saying someone is black.

It’s fascinating how language, it’s meaning and it’s usage, changes over the years. But it also confuses a lot of people — for example if the N-word has been reclaimed and is now in constant use by black people, I presume that if a white person used it, it would still be seen as racist? Is that the same with “people of colour”? Can people of colour refer to themselves as people of colour, but is it wrong or offensive for me to refer to them as “people of colour”? Is it offensive to call someone “black” now, in the USA?

Not that I ever need to refer to someone’s skin colour on a regular basis, anyway. Which is perhaps where my confusion lies: if, for whatever reason I needed to use the terminology regularly I would know what words to use!

Thanks for answering my question anyway — as I said, the background behind the use of the language is an interesting subject.

Writer and creator at

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store