General Article Can you excuse casual racism?

Topic Selected: Racism
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Last week, my husband took the morning off work to wait for an engineer, who was due to arrive at our home between 8am and midday (you know they can never give a specific time). Upon arrival, the engineer – a white, middle-aged man – soon proved himself to be one of the chatty ones, talking to my other half as if he’d known him for years.

The workman then asked my spouse how he liked the area, before telling him: ‘Yeah, I used to like it round here, but then all the fighting started between the blacks and the Greeks.’

When my husband – who is black – relayed this story to me, I was unsure of what to say or how to feel. I just couldn’t seem to find the appropriate emotion. Part of me wanted to laugh at the sheer tactlessness of the engineer, while another part of me wondered whether the man was a casual racist.

Was the ethnicity of the alleged troublemakers really that important to mention, especially to a black man? If the alleged fighting had been between groups of white boys, w...

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