Racism is tricky business. There is a whole gray area between comments that are racist and ones which aren't, and it can be quite a task to separate the husk from the grains. At one time, you may withhold a statement as a truism, only to be later assailed by some thought or incident which negates your basic premise.
For instance, there was a time when I used to take offense at someone calling an Indian brown, or an Asian yellow, or an Afro-American black. The basic premise lay in the fact that one considered white as the supreme color, the color of nobility & a color used by dictators & colonialists alike to proclaim their dominance over others. But on deeper contemplation, I realized that we Indians sure have our own nomenclature for the different races; Desi, makku, kallu, chinki ruling the roost. Are we being racist as well then? Or is it just a matter of convenience to refer to a certain group to delineate an image of such a person while narrating an incident? To think of it, refering to someone by their continental origin, say Asian or Indian, does not conjure the right image in terms of looks as well as could be an affront for fellow men from less-population-percent countries. Calling an Indian a Pakistani; or a Korean Chinese might be bigger of an insult than calling them brown or yellow.
Social norms change, so do the languages; but what truly distinguishes a racist from the not-racist is probably the tone of the comment, its literal meaning or pure actions perpetuated in its name. So you may call me brown or you may call me black, but you will find a punch flying at your face if you add a 'fag' or 'fat' to that...
When US beckoned me by Siddharth Wagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.