The trouble with racial language

From the White House to eastern Germany to the British Labour Party, racial matters dominate the news. But the words we use to discuss these topics are often misleading or wrong. For instance, the word "racist" has been blunted by overuse. Much as I hate to sound like a commissar of political correctness (another devalued term, by the way), here's my guide to useless language on racial issues.

A favourite word of certain conservatives, who claim (often sincerely) that they don't see colour and that therefore there's too much talk about racism. Their premise is that people of all colours can get ahead, so nobody should whine about outcomes.

Please or to continue reading the full article. Learn more about ST PREMIUM.

Enjoy unlimited access to ST's best work

  • Exclusive stories and features on multiple devices
  • In-depth analyses and opinion pieces
  • ePaper and award-winning multimedia content
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 15, 2018, with the headline 'The trouble with racial language'. Print Edition | Subscribe