Ryan Bridge: Is it racist to identify someone by their race?

Opinion 14/05/2019

I went to get some lunch this afternoon from a Thai restaurant and it actually was very nice, very generous of me to have offered to get lunch also for two of my colleagues, they paid, and when I'm at up to the store goddammit if there wasn't a 15 minute wait but I held out.

When I got my pad Thai back to the office handed the other two out and sat down stuffed my face with Pad Thai I might have had it all in five minutes, less probably.

I then pick up the bag from whence it came and what do you know written on the receipt on the bag is not only the sum that I paid for but also my name which they asked for.

The lovely woman behind the counter asked for my name because it was so busy, and written on the docket following my name was a description.

It says ‘tall, white guy’ on the receipt.

It made me smile because it wasn't that long ago that I wrote an opinion piece on the newshub website about exactly this but in reverse. A woman complained to the media after a receipt which she was handed at a cafe said Asian woman on it.

She slammed the cafe as racist, I will not slam this restaurant has racist.

That is because they were using the colour of my skin and my height as identifiers.

Question; do I feel racially aggrieved? Answer No.

Question; can a white person be racially aggrieved? Answer; of course they can.

Ryan then reads from his original opinion piece which you can find here.

I say identifying a group by race is not racism.

Racism would be if it were implied that there was something wrong with or inferior about someone's race.

Labelling somebody as racist for describing an Asian as such is equivalent to labelling somebody sexist for describing a woman as such.

Ethnic labels are not in and of themselves racist.

If they were could we not being considered the government racist for identifying and creating data on certain cohorts of society by race?

Racism should be condemned but only when it actually occurs and that's the case in this example too.

To be honest with you the woman was busy, the restaurant was packed, and she was a nice girl.

She was just doing a quick shorthand to try and make sure she knew who it was that ordered what on a busy day.

She was not racist. Not for a second would I think she was racist.

Now if she had thrown the food at me and told me to get out of the cafe in a hurry, well, I might have a different opinion but she didn't.

I just think you've got to look at somebody's attitude, their intent, and the fact that using the word white to describe someone is no different to using the word man or woman is it?

Although I suppose there are people out there that could find that offensive today too.

To call someone a man or woman. Well stuff it, I mean you look like a man or you look like a woman.

Or you look like something in between, in which case I probably wouldn't say.

I guess the question today is do you think it's racist?

I ask because there were many when the original article about the woman complaining came out that did think it was racist.

There was outrage.

Ryan Bridge is host of Magic Talk Drive.