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Homer: If we wanted to see Japanese people, we could have gone to the zoo.

Marge: Homer!

Homer: What? The guy who washes the elephants is Japanese! His name is Takashi. He's in my book club!

A character accidentally does something that is interpreted by everyone else as racist, and everyone starts treating him like a pariah. Any attempt to prove that he's not really racist ends up backfiring and making him look even more racist.

Compare Discriminate and Switch, Stereotype Reaction Gag.

Examples of Mistaken for Racist include:


Meta

  • Certain tropes on this wiki are sometimes interpreted as racist.
    • Ash Face, for example, looks pretty bad but usually only implies that the butt of the joke has been burned.
    • Similarly, Funny Foreigner - although that trope pokes fun at the character's different cultural practices, rather than different skin color.


Comicbooks

  • An issue of The Avengers has Iron Man getting extremely upset by the idea that the team needs to induct a minority member in order to diversify its line-up. His opposition becomes extreme enough that Duanne and Triathlon (who are both black) begin to insinuate that Tony is in fact, a racist. He tries to deny this, stating that he believes that the Avengers should only be the "best of the best" regardless of race, but he ultimately stops arguing after noting that he is indeed beginning to sound like a bigot.
    • While never saying that Tony is a racist, the narrative itself does go out of its way to try and justify the idea of diversifying the team. The Wasp for instance is shocked and upset when she realizes that there have only been a handful of non-white Avengers in the team's history, and an earlier issue by the same author has an African American man noting that he wished the Avengers had some diversity so that his son could see that people like him could be heroes too.
    • Strange enough this issue has been in Avengers many times before. During the 80's the government and the people in the streets wanted the Avengers to be more diverse. The Avengers asked Black Panther to join them, but he turned them down since he didn't want to be the Black Guy In The Team.
  • Archie Comics had this in a comic where Veronica has a party. She tells Archie that she doesn't want certain friends of his there. Since he's hanging out with Chuck and Jughead at the time, he thinks she means Chuck (who's black) and becomes angry. Turns out she means Jughead, who tends to be a slob and rather greedy with the food.

Films

  • "What do you mean, 'you people'?" from Tropic Thunder.
    • A black man misinterpreting the phrase "you people" was used earlier in the movie Anger Management. There are probably other examples. Tropic Thunder took the gag about as far as it could go, though.
      • Exactly. A white guy PLAYING a black guy saying "What do you mean, 'you people'?" (And then an actual black guy asked him what he meant.)
      • Even earlier: Me, myself and Irene, at the beginning. The Karmic Punishment in many ways vastly outweighs the supposed crime.
    • In a Saturday Night Live skit, Keith Olbermann (played by Ben Affleck) "proves" that Bush is racist by playing a clip of him in which he says "to find those folks". When it's pointed out that Bush was referring to Al-Qaeda, "whose members are entirely Middle-Eastern", Olbermann replies "so we have a president who is not only a racist, but also an imbecile".
    • The phrase "that one" briefly became the focus of attention during the 2008 election when John McCain used it to refer to Barack Obama (although the people who objected where divided on whether they thought it was racist or just kind of weird and rude). Facebook instantly picked up on this with "I'm Voting For That One" groups.
  • An incredibly awkward version pops up in True Crime, when Clint Eastwood's character goes to see the mother of a black possible witness. She assumes he's racist, and while he's sputtering, trying to explain herself, she correctly figures out that the other two witnesses and the victim were all white. Eastwood's character tells her she's "making it into a race thing" and tells her the condemned man he's trying to save is also black. She tells him the man he came to see has been dead for three years, and asks him where he was when he got stabbed.
  • In National Security, which gets a good half-hour out of the joke, Earl (Black) played by Martin Lawrence tries to get into his car when he finds that he has locked his keys inside. The police officer Hank (White) played by Steve Zahn confronts Earl and mistakes him for a car thief trying to break into the car. However, immediately after Earl is cuffed a bumblebee arrives and, as Earl is allergic to bumblebees, Hank attempts to swat the bee away to protect Earl from a potentially lethal reaction. Unfortunately, all that the bystanders see is a white cop savagely swinging a nightstick near a hand-cuffed black man, and to top it off the bee does manage to sting Earl. Afterwards, with a jittery recording of the encounter on the news and Earl seemingly bruised from the beating (But really just swollen from the bee sting) Hank was convicted with aggravated assault by an all black jury and sentenced to six months in prison.
  • Occurs as a Crowning Moment of Funny in Cabin Fever. At one point the characters ask a store owner why he has a high-powered rifle behind the counter, and he explains it's "for the blacks" (not in those exact words). At the end of the movie we see a black group pull up to the store, and the owner goes into the back hurriedly... only to hand them the gun that they'd apparently ordered, at which point the audience sees that he simply doesn't know the difference between using "er" and "a".
  • In the 2005 Dukes of Hazzard film, Bo and Luke are shown stuck in traffic. As several other drivers pass them they make comments. The first is a stereotypical redneck who shouts out "Southern By the Grace of God!" leaving them a little confused. Then a black couple drives by them and asks them if they're late for their Klan meeting, leaving them even more confused. Another redneck drives by complimenting them again. Then another black woman drives by and says "Nice roof." Bo and Luke then check their roof of the General Lee and discover the Confederate flag that it was so well known for on the TV series.
  • The first Rush Hour movie combines this with N-Word Privileges when Carter (who's black) and Lee (who's Asian) go to a pool hall. Carter, who's known by the patrons, greets them by saying "What's up, ma nigga?" While Carter goes into a back room to interrogate a source, Lee tries to start a friendly chat with the bartender using the same line. Since this is a Jackie Chan movie, Fighting Ensues.


Literature

  • Philip Roth's book (and later movie) The Human Stain was all about a professor accused of being racist after he used the word "spooks". He used it in the context of referring to two students who never showed up for his class, the full question being "Do they exist or are they spooks?" The two students in question who never appeared were black, although he did not know they were black at the time. After unjustly being charged with racism, he resigns from his job in protest. The faculty admits he probably was not intentionally being racist, but he just shouldn't have used that word. It is implied that the faculty was resentful because he effected some unpopular tenure reforms.
  • In the short story "A Hot Time in the Old Town" by Desmond Warzel, the elderly gentleman telling the story to the narrator was a landlord, whose house was avoided by potential black tenants because of a hate crime homicide that had taken place there. As it turns out, this is a wise decision on their part, because it's not the landlord who's racist, but the house itself that has been poisoned by the original crime..


Live-Action TV

  • Seinfeld: Happens to both Jerry, when he dates a Native American woman, and George, when he tries to find a black friend to prove to his boss he's no bigot after he comments on the latter's resemblance to Sugar Ray Leonard and the boss assumes that all black people look alike to George. George is vindicated the end when another black guy actually mistakes the boss for Sugar Ray.
    • And to Kramer in the infamous Puerto Rican Day episode, when he accidentally sets fire to a Puerto Rican flag.
    • In the same episode that Jerry dates a Native American woman, he innocently asks a mailman for directions to the nearest Chinese restaurant. He doesn't have a clear view of the man's face at that moment. Too late, Jerry realizes that the mailman is a Chinese-American, who takes great offense at the request.
      • "You know, I don't get it. Not allowed to ask a Chinese person where the Chinese restaurant is! I mean, aren't we all getting a little too sensitive? I mean, someone asks me which way's Israel, I don't fly off the handle."
    • Elaine desperately tries to avoid this trope when she's dating a racially ambiguous man (darker skin tone, curly hair).
      • Then come to find out he's white and was only dating her because he thought she was latino (thick curly hair, last name Benes). When they realize they're both white, they go to the Gap.
    • Yet another example was an episode where Elaine's company was critically depenedent on a deal with a Japanese conglomerate. Her boss had a terrible cold, and forgot his handkerkchief on her desk, and thus sneezed all over his hands. The Japanese businessman mistakes his refusal to shake hands because of germs to be an insult rather than a courtesy.
      • ... Which doesn't make a ton of sense considering that the Japanese tend to prefer bowing over shaking hands anyway.
    • An inversion occurs in an episode where George and Jerry can't get a cab at the airport and pretend to be the people a limo driver is waiting for. Turns out the person George is impersonating is a notorious neo-Nazi. Jerry and George don't actually say anything racist but are still Mistaken for Racist by other racists. It's even more awkward because Jerry is Jewish.
  • Every other episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Hmm, Larry David must love this trope.)
  • The Father Ted episode where Ted manages to offend Craggy Island's surprisingly large Chinese community. Somewhat subverted in that the presentation intended to prove that he's not racist is actually pretty racist in its own right.

  Father Ted: The Chinese: A great bunch of lads!

  • Liz in the Thirty Rock episode "The Source Awards" where she dates a black man who she ends up not liking. It seems only her date thought she was racist though, rather than everyone, but her attempts to prove herself not racist still backfired in the typical manner:

 Liz: I am not racist! I love black men! I love you! This is fantastic! Let's get dessert. Death by Chocolate! [her date gives her a look] No, no, not that kind of chocolate.

    • Happens to Liz again when she's interviewing for adoption in "Do Over." She calls a black technician by the wrong name (maybe)...

 Liz: Happens to everyone, right Bev?

Bev: Yeah, it happens all the time to my black husband.

    • Tracy is very fond of playing the race card against Liz to get what he wants. In one episode, he literally handed her a card labeled "race card".
  • An episode of Becker revolves around the title character making comments that a journalist construes as racist, leading him to write an article attacking him. Becker confronts him during a radio interview and seemingly manages to clear himself, although it gets worse before it gets better.
  • Knowledge of this trope was used in at least two plots of The West Wing, and not played for laughs either time.
    • In "The Midterms" Sam persuades a college friend and Florida DA to run for Congress. Unfortunately, it comes out later that as a DA he often dismissed black jurors from cases he was trying to win. Since this is not an uncommon tactic for DAs, this was still seen as a winnable campaign. Then it was revealed that he belonged to an all-white fraternity in college, which again is neither uncommon or embarrasing, as many frats and sorrorities have few-to-none black members (especially if the college has a black fraternity that attracts most black pledges). These two circumstances together were enough to staunch the promised support from the White House, as Sam, Josh and Leo knew the DA was going to be Mistaken for Racist, and didn't want the White House to be as well.
    • In "In Bartlett's Third State of The Union" a (white) Detroit police officer is cited for heroism by the President. It comes out later that the officer was once accused of excessive force, breaking the leg of a (black) suspect. It's evident from the officer's story that the suspect lied (the suspect broke his leg jumping from the building he was robbing) in order to get a several million dollar settlement out of the city. Nevertheless, CJ and Sam have to do damage-control, lest the White House be Mistaken for Racist, wondering aloud why they even let him into the State of the Union, and persuading the officer to clarify the situation on TV.
  • Absolutely every white non-black person the Militant Black Guy talks to in Balls of Steel due to the usage of words spoken causing very Unfortunate Implications from both sides.
  • Monk has that habit of cleaning/disinfecting his hands after he shakes anyone's hand. When he does this after shaking the hands of two white women, then a black guy's hand in "Mr. Monk and the Marathon Man", people who aren't familiar with this habit assume it's because he's racist. For some reason, he does not explain.
    • A similar occurrence happened in the episode where he went to Mexico.
    • Thankfully avoided in the first part of the series finale - after shaking hands with a black physician, Monk does his normal wiping thing...and is complimented by the doctor, who notes that if more people did that, he'd have a much easier job. Almost as if they were referencing the earlier jokes...
  • In an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun, Dick says to his black colleague, "You people all look the same to me." Of course he means all humans, and is explaining why he hadn't noticed that she and another colleague were of different ethnic groups.
    • In another episode, Dick, having failed to infiltrate a black study group, decided to seek out the white equivalent. He ended up taking his family to a "white power" rally.
      • He also started calling other white people "brothers" after hearing some blacks doing this, always getting insults in return because of this trope.
  • There's an episode of Scrubs where the Janitor sets up JD to appear prejudiced against East Asians by pondering a crossword puzzle solution just before an Asian lab tech could get there, just out of eye-shot of JD.
    • "A *blank* in one's armour?"
      • Another episode contains a flashback where JD is mistaken for racist against blacks when he shows up in black-face at a black fraternity while the white-faced Turk dropped the joke at the last second to talk to a cute girl.
    • In one episode Dr. Cox tells Turk he doesn't approve of "you people". Turk has just enough time to get offended before Dr. Cox finishes his blanket insult, declaring, in his own special Dr. Coxy way, his endless disdain...for surgeons.
  • The first episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "The Gang Gets Racist", hilariously centers around this trope.
  • On The Drew Carey Show, Mimi tells Drew that the Hispanic corporate executive he's going to interview is just the guy applying to be a janitor. Among other unfortunate things Drew says about "his kind" (by which he means janitors) is that they have to come into the store through the back entrance so that the customers don't see them.
  • On Just Shoot Me, Elliot mistakes an Asian-American client for the Chinese food delivery guy. Jack's attempt to set things right backfire when the person he thinks is the returning client actually works for him. To cap it off, Elliot is drinking a Slushie and gets brain freeze. Holding his temples so tightly his eyes slant, he bows back and forth saying "Ah, so cold!" - just as the client returns to be insulted a second time.
  • On Modern Family, Cameron is talking about how two of his acquaintances never shut up about how they went to Columbia Law School and Brown University respectively. Gloria, his Colombian stepmother-in-law and mother of one, walks in just in time to hear:

 Cameron: I wish that tart would go back to Columbia and take her little Brown friend with her.

    • Also on Modern Family, Phil inadvertently pisses off a black cab driver when, after representing the White team at Family Camp, sports a t-shirt that reads "If You Ain't White, You Ain't Right" in a flashback.
  • One of the more recent Jonathan Creek episodes has this happen to his American friend as a running gag. Helped along the way by his assistant photoshopping (or possibly just making sure that its easy to photoshop) his various acts and apology videos.
  • This exchange from Corner Gas:

 Davis: [after losing the Grey Cup tickets] Well, I'll have to go to a scalper.

Karen: Isn't it weird for you to go to a scalper?

Davis: Why? Because I'm a Cree man? I resent that!

Karen: Because you're a police officer and scalping tickets is illegal.

Davis: Oh yeah.

  • One episode of Yes Minister is about the state visit by the new head of an African country. Sir Humphrey says "the only thing we know is that he's an enigma" - which gets him a reproachful "oh, Humphrey, I don't like that word" from the minister.
    • Later when they meet with the African leader, who happens to be an old college friend of Jim's, he plays this tactic to unsettle them during negotiations:

 Jim: Charlie, long time no see.

Charles: You don't have to speak pidgin English to me Jim.

    • After Charles make them an offer that basically boils down to extortion of the British government:

 Sir Humphrey: Blackmail.

Charles: Are you describing me or my proposal?

Jim: Your proposal obviously. [Sir Humphrey and Jim laugh] No, no not even your proposal!

  • On one episode of Bones the socially challenged Bones compares the tune of rap music in a club to tribal music she heard in Africa. Two black women hear her and one accuses her of racism while the other one understands what she means. A near brawl ensues between the three women
    • Another time Bones continually asks a black intern to continue doing research in a field. Sarcastically the intern uses a southern accent asking her if there is "any more work she wants done on the plantation". She says no and asks whats wrong with his voice.
  • In an episode of King of Queens, Doug and Carrie want to sell their house, but decide against it at the very last moment. The problem is that two potential buyers, who happen to be a black couple, are already inspecting the house, and like what they see. After a while they notice that Doug and Carrie are suddenly very reluctant to sell them their house, think this is because of their ethnicity, and are of course quite offended.
  • In the first season finale of Boardwalk Empire, the various sleazy politicians are talking about how to win an election by encouraging voters and one comments about getting the spooks to vote. This gets an angry reaction from the black gangster Chalky, who is in attendance. The speaker hastily clarifies that he meant spooks in the sense of ghosts and was talking about having the dead "vote".
  • On Party Down, at Constance's wedding to a Jewish man, Kyle's band performs a song he wrote for Constance. He sings about how he and Constance, with their blond hair and blue eyes, are special and should rule the world, but a conspiracy of money-grubbers tries to hold them down. Then the song ostensibly describes the path to stardom as "a midnight train" to a place where they "brand you with a star" and "give with a number". . Does This Remind You of Anything?? The song is also called "My Struggle". Constance has to interrupt him and force him off stage as the Jewish guests are horrified.
  • To be fair, Pierce from Community actually is pretty racist, but in episode Basic Genealogy, he makes an innocent mistake for once with his attempt to draw a windmill turns into a swastika while playing Pictionary.
  • Yet another "you people" example in True Blood when Arlene is referring to religious people.


Newspaper Comics

  • During one of Jesse Jackson's runs for President, a Bloom County arc centered on Binkley's father scared to death that people would think he was racist because he didn't think he could vote for Jackson. Finally Oliver Jones' father(who is black and moderately conservative) assured him, "On behalf of all black people, we do not, repeat, NOT, hate you!"


Music

  • There was a rumor in the 90s that 311's name was related to the KKK (K is the eleventh letter of the alphabet, 3 K, get it?). They actually named themselves after Omaha police code for indecent exposure (a friend of the band's was arrested for skinny dipping). People who bought into this rumor were either unaware of or just flat-out ignored the fact that one of the band members is Mexican (which I'm pretty sure the Klan wouldn't take kindly to), not to mention all of the black artists they've worked with.


Professional Wrestling

  • John Cena once made it clear to Muhammad Hassan that, "We don't hate you because you're Arab-American, we hate you because you're Asshole-American!"
  • Happened during a very forgettable feud between Stone Cold & Faarooq:

 Austin: It's not a black thing, it's not a white thing; it's a me kicking your ass thing!


Theater

  • In Avenue Q, Kate Monster getting offended when Princeton asks if she and Trekkie Monster are related is the lead-in to the song "Everyone's a Little Bit Racist". Kate herself and two other characters say things that would qualify for this trope if they didn't all end up agreeing that they are racist.


Webcomics

  • Penny and Aggie, in the storyline appropriately titled "The Race Card." Aggie publicly accuses Penny of blowing off a blind date with Duane "because he's black." In fact, Penny had simply assumed his love letter came from another guy with the same vague description.
  • This little gem from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.

 Audience: The president is a racist! Bigot!

President: No! Wait! I said chiggers! Chiggers!

(Short Pause)

President: I hate black people and CHIGGERS!

  • This is essentially the sum of Kris the Koala's character in Acorn Grove, to the point where other characters refer to him as "Kris the Racist Koala".


Web Originals

  • Richard Herring's As It Occurs To Me podcast. Richard describes how twenty years ago he was playing a skinhead in a play and was turned away from a Pizza Hut because they assumed he was racist. He then told of how he was recently given bad service in a branch of Pizza Express because he has a Hitler moustache (which he had because for his stand up show Hitler Moustache). He said there should be a campaign against people who aren't racist being discriminated because people think they're racist (although he admits that he is probably the only person with that problem).
    • Funny, considering that a major percentage of skinheads are decidedly anti-racist, and hold special loathing towards those who mixed the neo-Nazi and skinhead subcultures together.
  • Rhett and Link knew that their Red House Furniture Commercial would create controversy, but it has no touches of racism in it. In fact, it is the exact opposite. It may only include blacks and whites, but they made it very clear that persons of all races are welcome at The Red House.
  • On one story on Clients From Hell, the designer accidentally printed a publication with a black cover when the client wanted a different one; the client asked if they could take the misprints but get a discount. Leading the designer to say to his supervisor "They (i.e. the client) want a discount because they (i.e. the documents) are black." The client in question was an African-American church group. Hilarity did not ensue.
  • Tobuscus makes a Running Gag in his various vlogs and gaming commentaries of saying things that can be taken as racist (or sexist, species-ist, or anything else ending in -ist), noticing, and then doing a Verbal Backspace or trying to dig himself out, frequently punctuated with That Came Out Wrong and Freudian Slippery Slope.
  • In True Capitalist, this is subverted. Ghost goes on about the trolls making 'false indictments' of his racism, yet Ghost makes fun of minorities and stereotypes all the time.


Western Animation

  • King of the Hill: Hank is thought to be subconsciously Afrophobic after his dog attacks a black repairman. It's later revealed the dog attack stems from his innate dislike of repairmen, irrespective of ethnicity.
    • The Church's less than subtle approach of convey the "racism is bad", culminating in a group of church goers and the female Priest singing on Hank's lawn with a big cross, points out the hypocrisy of condeming racism yet taking a similar attitude towards those who don't share the same view point.
    • In an early episode, Hank doesn't want to go to his new Laotian neighbor Kahn's barbecue because Kahn had been nothing but rude and insulting to Hank (calling him a "stupid redneck" and so on). Peggy demands that Hank go, otherwise they'll look like racists. Hank is frustrated, "I don't care about his race, he's a jerk. What kind of country is this where you can only hate a man if he's white?"
  • Randy Marsh of South Park, after he uses the n-word on television, thinking it was the answer to a Wheel of Fortune bonus puzzle.
    • It didn't help that the topic was "People Who Annoy You." To anyone wondering, the right answer was Naggers.
    • This trope was played with (somehow) in "There Goes the Neighborhood", where the townsfolk get upset at the town being filled with...rich people (all of whom happen to be black). They try several things that could be seen as racist (burning "lowercase Ts" for "Time to leave", dressing like ghosts), but the "richers" all see these as exactly what they were intended to be. At the end of the episode, after the rich people have left, Mr. Garrison remarks "Well, at least we got rid of those damn n-" *episode ends*
    • Not to mention the episode where a volcanic eruption covers everyone with soot and Chef drives up and, assuming they're in blackface, tells them all to line up for an ass-kicking.
  • In The Venture Brothers the Alchemist, remarking upon Jefferson Twilights' outfit, says "black is slimming". Cue a stony-faced expression from the African-American Jefferson.
  • In an episode of Family Guy, Brian gets it from his father. Running Gag, and in at least one episode the full attempts to prove "not racist" backfiring is shown.
    • Another one has Peter shouting to a Million Man March that they're a disgrace and should be ashamed. He was actually talking about all men, having gotten into women's lib.
    • And:

 Brian: Where'd you get crack?

Peter: From Blacks.

Brian: What?!

Peter: I got it from behind Blacks Hardware Store. There's a white guy selling it.

    • In the banned episode "When You Wish Upon a Weinstein", Peter thinks that being Jewish automatically makes you intelligent (after befriending a stereotypically savvy Jewish financial planner) and takes Chris to get bar mitzvah'ed. When Lois goes to stop them, she talks about how wrong it is, but the people in the synagogue mistakenly think she's a self-hating Jew and chase the Griffins out.
  • In the episode "Romeo Must Wed" from The Proud Family, Penny developed a crush on Kwok while rehearsing for their school's production of Romeo & Juliet. After a while, Kwok's parents, the Wongs, politely asked Penny's parents, Oscar and Trudy, that they not allow Penny and Kwok to see each other anymore. While Trudy remained civil in her inquiry, Oscar immediately jumped to conclusions, thinking that the Wongs didn't approve of their son having a relationship with Penny because she wasn't "good enough" for them. This prompted both Oscar and Mr. Wong to imply the other was a racist. It turned out the real reason was that Kwok had an arranged bride, who was coming to town for a visit.
  • An episode of Stripperella: A female supervillain called "The Bridesmaid," driven mad by winding up "always a bridesmaid, never a bride," kidnaps several bridegrooms and announces her intention to murder them all. She points her gun at one of the grooms and tells him that he will die first - and because this particular groom happens to be African-American, he accuses her of racism for it. The Bridesmaid concedes the point and opts to start with one of the other grooms - but, in a sort of inverted case of Genre Savvy, they all catch on and reveal to her their status as members of "oppressed" groups so that the Bridesmaid will not be able to kill any of them either (including one groom who conveniently "remembers" that he has a "Native American grandparent").


Real Life

  • The term "black hole" has been mistaken for racist at least twice.
  • Here: white man David Howard used the word "niggardly" (which means "miserly", and has a completely different etymology from that other N word) when talking about the budget, which was interpreted by a black man as being the other word. Howard resigned from his job because of this, but later took another job in the administration.
    • The incident led to something of a clash of beleaguered minorities, as Howard was a gay man and his resignation (widely believed to be forced) was roundly protested by gay-rights activists. Howard's boss, Anthony Williams - a black man and then-mayor of Washington, D.C. - later conceded that he "acted too hastily" in accepting Howard's resignation.
  • The expression "To call a spade a spade" dates back to Plutarch in Greek. The ethnic slur dates no earlier than the late '20s.
    • Oscar Wilde makes the original meaning clear in his sarcastic little observation:

 "The man who could call a spade a spade should be compelled to use one. It is the only thing he is fit for."

      • This shouldn't be taken to mean, though, that Wilde regarded the word "spade" as racist. He wouldn't have any reason to think that, because he died before the racist meaning for the word came about. The quote, said by a character in The Picture of Dorian Gray, is about people who use ugly, unimaginative words for objects like spades/shovels.
      • Also, Wilde was an Irishman who mostly lived and worked in England, and the racist usage of "spade" is an Americanism.
  • An ancient Roman text describes a visiting African man as "someone you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley at night." This is because the Romans believed ghosts were black, like living shadows; the white bedsheet look is much more recent. Still possibly racist or at least offensive (like comparing a very pale white person to a modern ghost, maybe), but for an unexpected reason.
  • The (African-American) chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, was being interviewed on a news show when this exchange occurred:

 Reporter: What is it that you people want?

Steele: "You people"?!

Reporter: Yeah, Republicans.

Steele: Oh! [chuckles] I thought you meant ...

  • Due to the popularity of neopaganism among white supremacists, bands like Týr and Moonsorrow have had to release video statements in order to convince the public that they were in fact not neo-Nazis.
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