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Mistaken for Racist

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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!
The Simpsons, "Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo"

A character says or accidentally does something that is interpreted by everyone else as being racist or some other breed of bigotry, and they proceed to chew him out or start shunning him for it. If it is not the main plot for the story, it can be quickly cleared up, but otherwise, any attempt to prove that he's not really racist ends up backfiring and making him look even more racist. When the accused is finally confronted on his behavior, expect him to say something to the effect of, "I don't hate you because you're [minority status], I hate you because you're [completely valid reason to dislike someone]."

If the people who believe this person prejudiced are themselves prejudiced, they'll be proud of him, leading to Your Approval Fills Me with Shame. The character may also try (unconvincingly) to deny it by saying "Some of My Best Friends Are X."


Compare Discriminate and Switch, Stereotype Reaction Gag, Calling Me a Logarithm. Sister Trope to Everything Is Racist.


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  • British comedian Ross Noble has a few jokes and stories involving this trope:
    • He sometimes tells a story about one of his daughters, who loved juice so much as a baby that it was one of the first words she learned to say. One day, she saw a boy in stereotypical Orthodox Jewish attire drinking a carton of juice, and started shouting "Juice! Juice!" at him, while reaching for the carton in a way that could easily be mistaken for a certain kind of salute that was popular in 1930's Germany. The only thing Ross could think to say to alleviate the embarrassment was to tell the boy's horrified family "I'm sorry, she's not actually mine, I'm babysitting for Mel Gibson."
    • In another joke, Ross claims that prior to the 2016 Brexit referendum, he was worried that voters would become complacent due to predictions that it would be an easy win for Remain, and made sure to tell everyone he met "Don't trust the polls!"
  • Patton Oswalt had a similar incident, in which his daughter saw an elderly black man with long dreads and said "monkey!" Turns out she thought he looked like Rafiki, but his reaction didn't help matters, as he picked her up and held her in front of his face as he quickly exited the store in embarrassment.

    Comic Books 
  • Let's just note up front that comic book heroes in the 1940s and 1950s were almost exclusively either Caucasian (or at least looked Caucasian, e.g. Superman) or their ethnicity was their defining characteristic, and usually not in a good way (Whitewash Jones). Sometime in the 1960s, the comic book companies discovered there was an ethnic market out there they could skim more dimes from. The first batch of non-white heroes that were more than simply stereotypes tended to have names that let you know right off the bat what you were dealing with ("Black Lightning"). Then someone with slightly more of a clue realized that just shading someone darker and putting "black" (or "El" for Hispanic heroes) in front of their names was maybe not all that much better. Cue stories with all the subtlety of a chainsaw about how racism is bad, kids! And expect heroes who are and have always been very level-headed suddenly realizing in an anvilicious manner just how racist they've been for all these years. A lot of the stories below hail from this time period.
  • As Aquaman is white and his Arch-Enemy Black Manta is black, Arthur has on occasion come off looking like a racist, which is only emphasized by the fact that Aquaman has superpowers and Manta does not. Most notably, Manta once goaded Aquaman into attacking him in public when Manta didn't have his Power Armor on, making it look like Aquaman had decided to just beat up a random black guy in broad daylight for no reason.
  • The Avengers:
    • An issue 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 '80s 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".
  • There was a story arc in West Coast Avengers involving nearly half the team quitting and forming their own short-lived splinter group over the issue of using lethal force in crimefighting. At one point, this team, composed of Mockingbird, Moon Knight and Tigra encounter Dr. Bill Foster, also known as the superhero Black Goliath, and later Giant-Man. At the end of their adventure together, Foster leaves, and the mentally disturbed Moon Knight quips "Good riddance! That man is not our kind!", prompting Tigra to rebuke his apparent bigotry. Moon Knight denies this, explaining that he was referring to the fact that Foster is not a killer like the rest of them.
  • Captain America was accused of racism in the '90s, in the issue that introduced the "Harlem hero" Rage. He got in Cap's face to angrily demand why "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" were almost entirely white people.
  • Archie Comics has this in a comic where Veronica throws 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.
  • In Angel: After the Fall Spike tells Angel he has "bigger fish to fry". Betta George, a Canon Immigrant telepathic fish demon thingy, is offended by this and calls him a racist.
  • Played for laughs in issue #9 of Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics, which focused on Alternate Universe where Superman was black. The Lex Luthor of that Earth is still a light-skinned man, and upon being arrested, is shown arguing that he is not a racist and hates Superman because he's an alien, not because he's black.
  • Happens with the fame-hungry villain Screwball in Superior Spider-Man. She refuses to attack a woman she deems to be "too ethnic" because she's worried that it would make her seem like a racist.
  • In an infamous Green Lantern comic from the 1970s, Hal Jordan enters a neighborhood full of African-American families to deal with a mugging, and is quickly accused of racism by everyone. An elderly black man points out that Hal patrols the galaxy helping and protecting aliens, but hardly ever helps the black people. Hal is very shaken up by this, apparently forgetting that when he saves the world as part of the Corps or the Justice League, he saves it for, you know, every single race and ethnicity, not just light-skinned people. Then again, a recurring Inuit member of his support characters was "lovingly" referred to as Pieface (which all modern incarnations establish said character only being called that by actual racists).
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • At one point in Spider-Verse, Miles Morales and the Spider-Man from the Ultimate Spider-Man TV show team up with the Spider-Man from the '60s animated series. When Miles unmasks, the '60s Spider-Man is visibly shocked, causing the animated Ultimate Spidey to think he's a racist. Instead, it turns out that '60s Spidey is proud to learn that the Spider-Man legacy has lived on, and was actually expressing shock at the fact that the new Spider-Man is so young.
      Ultimate Cartoon Peter Parker: [addressing the fourth wall] Oh, snap! Don't tell me "Spider-Mad Men" is old-fashioned in bad ways, too!
    • A similar joke occurs in Divided We Fall. Stature captures Miles after being brainwashed by the Mind Gem, and states that the new Spider-Man isn't what she was expecting. Miles calls her a racist in his internal narration but then realizes she was likely referring to the fact that he's only 13-years old.
    • Ultimate FF: Van Damme gets into the interrogation cell, grabs Miles Horhames (an Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation of Miles Morales as a pig) and says "tell the truth or die, swine". Miles thought that was racist.
  • During Ben Reilly's tenure as Spider-Man during The Clone Saga, he was acting on information from his boss about her ex-husband when he decided to keep tabs on her son for her after she said she was concerned for her son's well-being around him and that he wasn't reliable, thus was hostile towards the man. The man in question was an African-American undercover cop who thought Ben was a racist because he wasn't aware that Ben worked for his ex-wife and Ben was acting on she said.
  • In an early issue of Spawn, title character Al Simmons (who is black himself) is mistaken by a southern black man for a klansman thanks to his red cloak and mask, which leads him to take off the mask and reveal his scarred face.
  • Similarly, in Supreme, Jack O'Lantern's ghostly costume causes a race-hate group member to assume he's ready for a meeting. Might count as Stylistic Suck, since the first thing people assume when they see Jack's costume is that he's ready for a Halloween party.

    Comic Strips 
  • 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!"
  • One For Better or for Worse storyline has a new family move in next door while Michael and Elizabeth are still kids. Michael excitedly says "Look, mom, they're—!" only to be repeatedly shushed because they're Japanese-Canadian... until he finally gets it out with "they're our age!"
  • Knights of the Dinner Table: While attending Garycon, B.A. gets covered in dye from an exploding dye pack when Dave attempts to open Brian's briefcase (It Makes Sense in Context). He attempts to remove it with lighter fluid and only succeeds in smearing it all over his face and hands, making it look like he is in Black Face. After several people make comments about how offensive his costume is, Sheila is able to explain it away as a (very poor) Drow cosplay.

    Fan Works 
  • In XCOM: From The Ashes of Temples: Poor Carlock gets mistaken for both a racist and a sexist when he tries to explain why sending women or non-Caucasians for covert ops to infiltrate EXALT is a really bad idea. The perfectly valid reason is that EXALT only have white men in their ranks, but his choice of words could have been better.
  • Pony POV Series: Shining Armor is not a fan of Leeroy Jenkins tactics, and cites some Zebra warlords who tried them and lost to illustrate his point. The Pegasus Interviewer smacks him and calls him a racist until he says he was talking about those specific warlords, not Zebras in general.
  • In a crossover fiction by A.A. Pessimal which brings together the The Science of Discworld and The Big Bang Theory, note  Discworld Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes comes from the Disc's Expy of South Africa. To blend in at Caltech she adopts the cover identity of being an academic zoologist from Earth's South Africa. She meets real expat South Africans in a public park in Pasadena where her accent, demeanor and general attitude make her very welcome indeed. Then she discovers to her horror their mindsets are firmly stuck in the Good Old Days, which is why they emigrated to find common cause with white supremacists in the USA. Even though her own society on the Disc is an apartheid one, Johanna has no sympathy with the philosophy and gets out of her compatriots' company as soon as she can. But this has been noted by a certain Ms. Janine Davis who was watching. A routine interview with Caltech's HR department follows the next day. Johanna's protestations that, for instance, "one of my best friends is bleck!" drops her more deeply into it. She then gets all the sensitivity training courses. At once. As this took Howard Wolowitz a year to achieve, he is most impressed. Her realization is what amounts to a Real Life observation - that white South Africans anywhere outside South Africa are presumed automatically to be racist, even twenty years after the end of The Apartheid Era, and the onus is on them to amply demonstrate that they're not. Especially Afrikaaners.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Rex, when he hears some of Vix-Lei's jokes, assumes she's bigoted towards Diamond Dogs. She's not - she's just Innocently Insensitive and doesn't know she's offending him.
  • Escape From the Moon: In the sequel The Mare From the Moon, when Spliced starts explaining about her world's Pures (Alicorns) and Thirds (the other three tribes, who have only a third of what a Pure has), she realizes that this might sound like racism, and starts explaining that to her, the differences between the tribes are purely biological, with Thirds variously lacking any or all of the following: a carbuncle (the organ that generates their thaumatics) and the particular keratin (a fibrous structural protein) that makes up a horn, or the bones that form wings.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Weiss tells Adam that Beacon is closed to "your kind," and he assumes she means because he's a Faunus. She clarifies that it's because he's a terrorist. Adam rolls his eyes and thinks that Weiss probably thinks every Faunus is a terrorist. He completely ignores the fact that he is a terrorist, he's wearing the mask of a terrorist organization, and the organization in question is currently attacking Beacon.
  • RWBY: Epic of Remnant: Blake Belladonna assumes from Lancelot's looks and the fact that he's friends with Weiss Schnee that he's from Atlas. Then, because a majority of Atlas is racist against Faunus, she assumes he's a racist. She is thrown for a loop when he shows he isn't a racist.
  • Remnant Inferis: DOOM: Blake Belladonna and the White Fang tend to assume the Doom Slayer is racist against Faunus because he slaughtered several White Fang members and he tends to call Faunus "beastkin". The thing is, Doom Slayer doesn't care who or what you are; if you are evil, he will kill you, and every White Fang member he killed was a murderer. "Beastkin" is simply what Faunus are called in his homeland.
  • A Tale of Two Rulers: When Vaati learns that Zelda knew all along about his Human Disguise, he assumes that her dislike of him is because he's a Minish, when in fact it's because he crassly tries to seduce her while she's engaged and, later, married.
    Zelda: You have many things to be ashamed of... but being a Minish isn't one of them.
    Vaati: And yet you hate me.
    Zelda: Of course I do... But for who you are deep, deep in your heart.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Occurs in the Jackie Robinson biopic 42, when the Robinsons are walking down the street when a gruff-looking (white) man approaches them. They prepare for a fight, only for the man to sternly say that he's a supporter who thinks Jackie should be allowed to play baseball as long as he has the talent.
  • The main character in the opening scenes of Anger Management, in the middle of his Humiliation Conga that started with getting (falsely) accused of physically harassing an airplane stewardess, makes the mistake of proclaiming "What is it with you people?" to the black air marshal who comes up to investigate.
  • In Beauty Shop, Gina quits her job at the beginning of the movie mostly because she misunderstands the way her foreign boss pronounces the word "Moniker". (He's not actually racist and didn't intentionally say the N-word like she originally thought, but he is still an egotistical, overly competitive douche.)
  • In the 1955 film Blackboard Jungle the protagonist gets mistaken for a racist when he uses racial slurs in class. One of his students told the principal about it without context to get him into trouble.
  • Occurs 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 Niggers", much to the shock and worry of the characters. 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 realizes that the owner actually meant "Niggas" and simply doesn't know the difference between using "er" and "a". That said, blacks and anti-racists would still be offended.
  • In Clear History, Rolly punches a black guy who pops up at him at his birthday party. The black guy spends the rest of the film finding pretenses to accuse Rolly of being prejudiced against blacks. It doesn't help that Rolly keeps screwing up the guy's relationship with his girlfriend.
  • In Clerks II, Randall loudly complains about being treated "like a porch monkey" in front of a couple of black customers. They react about how you'd expect. Randal then admits he wasn't aware "porch monkey" was a racial slur and it was just a phrase he picked up from his grandma and he spends much of the rest of the movie attempting to reclaim the phrase.
  • The Confirmation: Drake mentions this happened once after he logged onto a Neo-Nazi website when he was really just trying to find a recipe for German pancakes.
  • Referenced in Crash. Jean (a white woman) states that she felt uncomfortable when she saw two black men (who turned out to be carjackers) coming toward her, but she didn't say or do anything because she didn't want to look racist.
  • In Die Hard with a Vengeance, the Big Bad of the film, portrayed by Jeremy Irons, blackmails John McClane into standing on a street corner in the middle of Harlem wearing a sandwich board that reads "I Hate Niggers". He very nearly gets killed by a gang of local street thugs but is saved by Zeus. Note that when they were filming the scene, Bruce Willis wore a blank sign, because they were genuinely worried that he'd get killed. They photoshopped "I Hate Niggers" onto it for the theatrical release, and "I Hate Everybody" was added in post for the TV edit. Of course, this means the black people in the neighborhood appear to attack McClane for no real reason leading to some Unfortunate Implications.
  • In the 2005 The 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.
  • Guess Who, a race-inverted remake of Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, is built on this trope. The patriarch (Bernie Mac) mistakes his daughter's fiance for racist for most of the film. Near the end, the fiance tries to call him out on it, only to accidentally use the words "you people" to the predictable effect. The father eventually realizes that the reason his daughter's fiance is unemployed is that he quit his high-paying job after his racist boss told him to break off the engagement. He commends the guy for sticking up for her and then calls him an idiot for quitting his job over an insult.
  • In How to Rob a Bank, while Jason is talking to negotiator Officer DeGepse, he mentions not liking being surrounded by 'armed assholes' then realises that DeGepse might think he means the police and adds "I don't mean you people". This is followed by a long silence from DeGepse, who is black. Sensing something is wrong, Jason says "You're not black or something, are you?". Fortunately for Jason, Jessica takes the phone from him and explains the situation to DeGepse.
  • Me, Myself & Irene: Charlie (Jim Carrey) incurs the wrath of a black midget chauffeur by asking him "Do you people take credit cards?" (He was speaking of the business itself, not the driver, who was a black midget, wielding nunchuks, and also a Mensa member.)
  • The trope is sideswiped by Will Smith in Men in Black 3: he's pulled over by a couple of policemen, and after neuralizing them gives them a dressing down about how they're racists who only stopped him because he's black, so they assumed he stole the nice car he's driving.
    J: Keep in mind, just because you see a black man driving a car, does not mean he stole it! [pause] Okay, I did steal this one — but not because I'm black!
  • In the post-credits scene of My Boss's Daughter, when Hans (the daughter's ex-boyfriend) is sent to Thailand to oversee the new factory, he's told "You people! Back of bus!" by a bus driver. At first, he thinks it's because he's black, but the driver then yells "Smoker! Back of bus!" Hans then raises his other hand, holding a cigarette, and the scene cuts to several people smoking at the back of the bus.
  • 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. Afterward, 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 a single timid white guy) and sentenced to six months in prison. To be sure, the DA is initially reluctant to pursue the case, but Hank's Lieutenant insists that letting Hank off would result in a race riot.
  • In the Denzel Washington film Out of Time, an older woman is at a police station reporting on a prowler and excitedly identifies Denzel's character as the culprit. When it's revealed that he is the chief of police, she uncertainly starts pointing out other people of color as the culprit and is dismissed as racist. However, the audience knows that Denzel really was the culprit.
  • 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 (to be fair, though, Carter had previously instructed him to "follow my lead, and do what I do"). Since this is a Jackie Chan movie, Fighting Ensues.
  • In Scary Movie 3, George puts on a white hoodie that resembles a KKK hood and does what looks like a Nazi salute in front of a predominantly black audience. This turns out about as well as you'd expect for him.
  • In Soul Plane, Elvis Hunkee (Tom Arnold) meets an old black classmate named Karl at the airport. Karl remembers Hunkee since he and the other kids always pick him last when playing basketball due to the fact he was black. But Hunkee reveals a funny shocker to Karl: it turns out the other kids picked him last not because he was black but because he was a horrible basketball player! The ironic part was the classmate is actually Karl Malone of the L.A. Lakers, a famous NBA player which Hunkee think he's joking which leaves Karl bewildered by this revelation.
  • "What do you mean, 'you people'?" from Tropic Thunder. A subverted example since it was spoken by a white guy playing a black guy, and then an actual black guy asks what he means.
  • 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 himself, 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.
  • Deadpool 2:
    • Deadpool is shocked when Negasonic Teenage Warhead shows up with a girlfriend. Negasonic calls him an outdated homophobe, but Deadpool clarifies that he's surprised Negasonic got anyone to date her. She can't really argue with that.
    • Deadpool keeps referring to Cable as a racist after the latter kills minor villain Black Tom Cassidy, who is a white man. After meeting Black Tom, Deadpool forgot everything about him, "except that he was African-American".
  • The homophobia variant happens in Set It Up. Harper and Charlie are trying to get Kirsten and Rick together, and scheme to get them on the kiss cam. After they refuse to kiss on camera, the kiss cam pans to two men who do make out. Charlie boos them and is called out by some spectators.
    Charlie: It's for a different reason!
  • In The Human Stain (adapted from the Philip Roth novel of the same name), professor of literature Coleman Silk refers to two students who never show up for his class as "spooks", the full question being "Do they exist or are they spooks?" As it turns out, the two students whom he has never seen are black, and because "spook" is (besides its other meanings) a slur for black people, the professor is accused of racism. Silk turns to his black fellows for support, but feels betrayed when they do not take his side, and eventually resigns from his position. The big revelation of the story is Silk is an African-American who has "passed for white" in his adult life.

  • Discworld: In The Last Continent, Rincewind mistakes himself for a racist, because he erroneously believes the word means someone who is good at running. Once he finds out what it actually means, he is surprised but realizes he isn't one after all — he only categorizes the world into "people who are trying to kill him" and "people who are not".
  • Esther Diamond: At one point in Disappearing Nightly Hieronymous tells Esther that it's possible that "your people" were behind the disappearance. She takes that remark as anti-Semitic and stats to get defensive before he clarifies that he meant non-magical people.
  • Godzilla: The novel Godzilla Vs. the Robot Monsters features Jack Strongbow, a Blackfoot brave with a strong dislike of Joel Mitchell, a white man working for the U.S. Department of the Interior. In one scene, his girlfriend, Theresa Rainbird, accuses him of hating Joel just for being white, completely ignoring the fact that Jack's best friend and almost brother Wayne is white, as are some other people he's friends with. For his part, Jack privately thinks that he has a whole host of reasons for disliking Joel, none of them related to race, but doesn't bother to voice any of them to Theresa because he knows that, in the mood she's in then, she won't listen.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, while the Weasleys are picking up Harry from the Dursleys, Fred and George decide to have some fun by planting a toffee in the living room for Dudley to eat. Said toffee is actually an invention of theirs that causes people's tongues to grow as large as four feet long when they eat one. Arthur chastises them for using magic to mistreat a Muggle for their amusement. Fred and George indignantly tell him they didn't give it to him because he's a Muggle, they gave it to him because he's "a great bullying git".
  • 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..
  • In Philip Roth's novel The Human Stain, professor of literature Coleman Silk refers to two students who never show up for his class as "spooks", the full question being "Do they exist or are they spooks?" As it turns out, the two students whom he has never seen are black, and because "spook" is (besides its other meanings) also a slur for black people, the professor is accused of racism. The conflict escalates until Silk 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 created some unpopular tenure reforms.
  • In Bryan Miranda's The Journey to Atlantis, Hispanic José is insulted on his race by Chris, calling him a "spick" and referencing his ability to reach America without knowing how to swim. Although he isn't really acting of his own accord but is being influenced by Loki.
  • Older Than Radio: In The Last of the Mohicans Colonel Munro flies into a rage when Major Heyward asks for his daughter's hand in marriage and it turns out that the one he wants is not Cora (whose mother was part-black), but her younger half-sister Alice (whose mother was white). Heyward has a hard time convincing Munro that he just happens to be attracted to Alice more than to Cora (the novel at that point already has established that he in fact greatly admires Cora for her spirit and inner strength). It did not help that Heyward is English, as the crusty Scotsman Munro sees racism against blacks and people with black ancestry as a very English prejudice.
  • In Rick Riordan's verse, demigods are often called "half-bloods." This causes issues sometimes.
    • In the first The Heroes of Olympus book Annabeth uses this term upon meeting Piper, who is taken aback, as her father is Cherokee and she's always assumed that her Missing Mom was white. It's then clarified that Annabeth is actually talking about her mother being a goddess.
    • The same thing happens in "The Son of Sobek," the first Demigods & Magicians crossover story. Percy assumes that Carter is a "half-blood" like him, not realizing that a.) magicians powered by Egyptian gods also exist in this setting, and b.) Carter is, in fact, biracial and might take that term badly.
  • Star Wars: Aftermath: After Sinjir turns down Jas's offer of sex, she thinks at first this is because she's a Zabrak, and gets angry. He quickly corrects her that no, it's because he's gay.
  • When You Reach Me: Miranda calls Julia "Swiss Miss", in reference to her Swiss watch, but it's mistaken by Jimmy (who approves) and later Annemarie (who does not) as a reference to her skin color (Swiss Miss is an American hot chocolate brand).

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    • In an episode, 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 ends up taking his family to a "white power" rally.
    • He also starts calling other white people "brothers" after hearing some blacks doing this, always getting insults in return because of this trope.
  • 30 Rock:
    • Liz in the episode "The Source Awards" where she dates a black man she ends up not liking. It seems only her date thinks she is racist rather than everyone, but her attempts to prove herself not racist still backfires 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.
    • From the same episode:
      Jack: Steven's a good man, he's on partner track at Dewey. And he's a Black.
      Liz: "A" Black? That is offensive.
      Jack: No, no, that's his last name. Steven Black. A good family. Remarkable people, the Blacks — musical, very athletic, not very good swimmers — again, I'm talking about the family.
    • 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".
  • Arrested Development:
    • An episode features a "Mistaken for Homophobe" variant:
      Gob: Hey, have you seen the new Poof?
      Michael: His name's Gary, and we don't need another lawsuit.
      Gob: No, I was talking about the magazine! Wait, Gary's gay?
    • In another episode, Michael meets a pair of gay police officers who are expecting a child. When he gives them a bundle that (unbeknownst to him) contains a fat suit complete with a pair of prosthetic breasts, the cops assume he's making some sort of dig at their inability to provide their baby with breast milk because they're both men.
    • Another episode has a visibly-shaken Lucille tell Michael that she was almost attacked by a "colored man" in her home. She was referring to her son-in-law, Tobias, who was wearing blue make-up while trying to join the Blue Man Group.
  • 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.
  • An episode of Becker revolves around the title character making comments that a journalist construes as racist (such as making fun of a blind black man, insulting an Asian taxi driver, complaining about a neighbour who plays rap music and one who barbecues his dinner on the sidewalk etc.), leading him to write an article attacking him. Becker confronts him during a radio interview and clears himself by pointing out that the blind man happens to be his best friend, his neighbor literally does cook his dinner on the sidewalk, and he has every right to not like rap music (especially when being played loudly and being broadcast into a public street), and to be angry with a driver who just crashed into his car, regardless of where he came from. Becker then counters by pointing out that he never mentioned that his neighbor was Puerto Rican or any other race and that Tetzloff jumped to that conclusion based solely on the "barbecuing on the sidewalk" comment.
    Becker: Same thing with your column, too: you took a private conversation, you imbued it with racial overtones, all under the guise of political correctness. You know something, that concept was meant to make us more sensitive to each other but instead all you did was use it to perpetuate some ugly stereotypes!
    Tetzloff: [stuttering] Well that certainly wasn't my intention!
    Becker Yeah, well, that's what you did.
  • A variant occurs in Better Call Saul where Mike is Mistaken For Sexist. He is laying a concrete path at his granddaughter's playground, and three volunteers offer to help. He sends the two male volunteers to mix more concrete, and hands the female volunteer a broom. When she gives him an appalled look, he explains that the broom is to texture the concrete so the path doesn't get slippery when it rains.
  • 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 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 with 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 what's wrong with his voice.
  • Community:
    • Pierce actually is pretty racist, but in the episode "Basic Genealogy", he makes an innocent mistake for once when his attempt to draw a windmill while playing Pictionary accidentally turns into a swastika. And he's apparently not the only one. When a fight breaks out and the police get involved, one officer remarks, "I may just be a simple cop, but people need to know: this isn't gonna stop until Pictionary bans the word 'windmill'."
    • In "Biology 101" Jeff, getting unhinged after being separated from the study group, spots what looks like conspiratorial evidence of a photo of Pierce with Professor Kane (black, ex-con) and grabs it, confronting Pierce with it, who points out it's a photo of him with a famous rapper.
      Jeff: But... but they look alike!
      Troy: Uhh, I guess they share one important feature in your eyes.
      Jeff" But that's not fair! Look, I — I was standing far away and I saw the prison uniform!
      Shirley: Oh, Jeffrey!
      Jeff: Oh, come on, obviously, I don't mean all black people are in prison-
      Group: [gasp] — Oooooh! — Damn!
  • 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.
  • In Coronation Street in 2013, Paul Kershaw is mistaken for a racist when he utters the phrase "play the white man" to Steve McDonald during a game of darts; Lloyd Mullaney and daughter Jenna overhear him. Paul is reluctant to apologize to Lloyd since he doesn't believe the phrase is offensive, and him feeling that if he did apologize it would confirm Lloyd's accusation of racism.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • Pretty much the point of "Fear and Loathing." The episode features a serial killer targeting black girls (and one of the girls' white boyfriend) which is assumed to be a hate crime. The last victim also received a note warning her away from said white boyfriend which was likewise assumed to be because of their races. The killer and the note writer each turn out to be non-racially motivated. The note was written by the boy's black ex-girlfriend, who wanted him back, while the killer was a black sexual predator simply targeting his own race, though the killer did play up the racial angle when the media picked up on it. The BAU itself is accused of racism since they don't get involved until a white person is killed (which is a coincidence), and the (white) mayor refuses to allow them to release a profile targeting black men because he knows the trope will come into effect and do nothing but anger the black community (who they're relying on for information).
    • One episode features a witness who clams up around the black female army officer assisting the BAU with their investigation. Hotchner asks her to sit out of the next interview, noting the suspect's discomfort, and she asks "My race or my gender?" prompting Hotchner to admit "Probably both." While it doesn't clarify whether the man really is racist and/or sexist, it turns out that he actually has a problem with military personnel, who he believes are responsible for the crime in question, thus had a perfectly logical reason not to want to speak in front of her.
    • Subverted in the twelfth season finale. Two black agents question a gun shop owner who sold firearms to the serial killer they are looking for. Noticing his reluctance, one agent tells the man he doesn't think he wants to talk to people like them, and the gun shop owner starts denying that he is racist. The agent clarifies that he was talking about FBI agents, not black people.
  • Every other episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm (Hmm, Larry David must love this trope.)
  • Doctor Who: In "Oxygen", Bill (who, for the record, is a black lesbian) gets this due to her surprised reaction upon meeting a blue-skinned alien. When she tells him that normally she is the victim of prejudice, he doesn't know what she's talking about.
    Dahh'Ren: Great. We rescued a racist.
  • 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.
    • Another episode had a retiring executive give a speech that he credited Drew with helping him write. The speech proceeded to explain his extremely racist hiring policies, such as "I like to keep all the blacks in security because they know how to get the stolen stuff back. They just go over to their cousin's house and there it is!". All of the minority co-workers angrily confront Drew at his desk afterward, except one who defends him by saying "Come on people, Drew's no racist. He's asked out and been rejected by women of every race, color, and creed!".
  • In an episode of ER, when a young black man is brought into the ER with a gunshot wound, Mark assumes he's a gangbanger (an unfortunate assumption, but one no doubt gleaned from years of experience as an inner-city emergency room doctor). His incensed brother informs him that the kid is, in fact, a straight-A high school student and that it's the white guy who was also brought in who's the drug dealer (his brother had gotten caught in the crossfire of a sale gone bad). When the kid subsequently dies from his injuries, his brother is completely convinced that Mark deliberately failed to save him.
  • 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, as is the incident that angered them in the first place.
    Father Ted: The Chinese: A great bunch of lads!
  • Played for Drama on Friday Night Lights. One of the assistant coaches uses a poor choice of words about Smash and a reporter twists said words to make it seem racist, leading to all of the African-American players temporarily quitting the team.
  • Similarly to the above example, an episode of House had a boy whose seemingly racist father disapproved of him dating the black Girl Next Door, because he had cheated on his wife with the girl's mother, and the girl is his daughter. Naturally, this information is vital in solving the medical emergency of the week.
  • In How I Met Your Mother, Proud Casanova Barney drops one of these upon discovering that his gay brother James is engaged:
    Barney: I don't support this.
    James: Gay Marriage?
    Barney: Not gay marriage. Marriage!
  • There's an episode of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret in which Margaret, an American in Britain, is convinced to show his love of British culture by wearing a shirt promoting the British National Party.
  • The IT Crowd: In "The Internet is Coming", a strange chain of events conspire to make the internet brand Jen as a female misogynist who hates the homeless, and Roy as bigoted against little people. Their attempts to fix matters only makes things worse. Roy does not help by continually pointing that he cannot be racist against little people as little people are not a race.
  • The first episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "The Gang Gets Racist", hilariously centers around this trope.
  • JAG: Commander Sturgis Turner is accused of racism against Koreans in the season nine episode "Close Quarters", when investigating rescued North Koreans, by a Lieutenant of Korean origin in Naval Intelligence, who himself has issues with black people. The charges are eventually dropped.
  • 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 digitally editing (or possibly just making sure that it's easy to edit) his various acts and apology videos.
  • On Just Shoot Me!, Elliot mistakes an Asian-American client for the Chinese food delivery guy. Jack's attempt to set things right backfires 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.
  • In an episode of The 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 race, and are of course quite offended.
  • In an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, a suspect intentionally sets his mentally ill brother up to look like a neo-Nazi. It turned out the brother just had some stong opinions on people of any race changing their appearance, and he's horrified when he realizes what his brother had made him out to be.
  • Law & Order: SVU
    • Referenced in an one episode where the victim of the week tells police that she went out of her way to avoid looking racist when a black man got into the elevator with her and offered to help her with her groceries. He then promptly pulled a gun and raped her.
    • Exploited by the defense in at least one case. A woman is raped in her home by a black man. She initially identifies one man before realizing her mistake and identifying another. The second man's lawyer has the first man brought into the courtroom to point out that the two look nothing alike beyond being black, implying that the woman's racism leads her to either think all black people look alike or simply want to blame a black man. The woman points out that the room was dark, so the one trait the men have in common (their height and build) was all she could see.
    • In the episode "Fight", a frat boy mentions that the only real reason there's an African American in their fraternity is because the Dean forced them to accept "the brothers". Fin is less than pleased, but the guy clarifies he means it was a pair of actual brothers. The Confederate flag on the wall and the guy proudly saying their founder is a descendant of Jefferson Davis didn't exactly portray them as non racist either.
  • Law & Order: UK. The attorney for Matt Devlin's killer, a black man, insinuates that Matt was this by virtue of him being a white police officer and further suggests that Alesha Philips, herself a black woman, is a Category Traitor for prosecuting his murderer, who is also black. Alesha tearfully and angrily denies that Matt was a bigot.
  • Lucifer: In the pilot, when Lucifer meets a rapper who may have killed one of Lucifer's friends.
    Lucifer: My name is Lucifer Morningstar.
    2Vile: Lucifer Morningstar? That's a gay hip-hop name.
    Lucifer: Well, that offends me.
    2Vile: You have a problem with black people?
    Lucifer: No, not in the slightest. I just hate your music. And when I say "your music", I mean your music, not the music made by other black people. Without the blues, there would be no Devil's music whatsoever. There are of course many giants in the field. Just not you. Am I being clear?
  • 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, walks in just in time to hear, "I wish that tart would go back to Columbia and take her little Brown friend with her." He then digs himself deeper when he tries to explain that he meant people who go to college, not "her people", and subsequently realizes his statement would imply that Latinos are too dumb to get into Ivy League schools.
    • 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.
    • Inverted in the episode "Door to Door":
      Phil: Okay, huddle up everybody. Your mother's right. She's the quarterback of this family and we need to protect her like Blind Side did.
      Luke: She just said that mom was Blind Side.
      Phil: She's confused. Blind Side was the black kid who played Tight End.
      Alex: Offensive line.
      Phil: Sorry, African-American kid.
    • One episode has Lily tell Gloria she's gay (out of misunderstanding the term; her friends parents are Italian, so that makes him Italian, so if her parents are gay, that makes her gay). Cameron and Mitchell try to explain to her, but it comes out as "You're not gay, you're just confused." A lesbian couple passing by shoots them angry looks, leading Cameron to apologize by saying "Some of our best friends are lesbians," which doesn't help. Mitchell has to point out the better solution would have been pointing out that they are, in fact, a gay couple. Gloria then decides that she should take Manny to visit their home country so he can keep in touch with his roots. Cameron agrees, but unfortunately, it comes out as, "The world would be better off if everyone just went back to where they came from." The other patrons in the Asian restaurant they're in seem none too happy at his remark.
  • 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.
  • A Moody Christmas. In the first episode, an unfortunate comment about boat peoplenote  leads many to believe that Dan is racist.
  • In an episode of My Name Is Earl, one misdeed of the week involved making a man so obsessed with golf that his girlfriend left him. To win her back, he gets the golfer to hold up a radio playing a silly love song as his golf clubs burn in front of her apartment. The man who lives below her is black and thinks they're burning a cross on his lawn because of the way the clubs have accidentally been arranged. Earl kicks the bag of golf clubs over when he realizes this, and this happens:
    Katie: What are you doing?
    Scott: I'm proving my love for you!
    Katie: By burning a Swastika on my lawn?
    • And then when Earl goes to stamp out the fire, his boot catches fire, and he kicks it off, right into the black neighbor's window.
      "We're not moving!"
    • Another episode has Joy pretending Earl is still her husband and not Darnell when her parents visit her for Christmas, believing her father is extremely racist because he ran off one of her black ex-boyfriends and forbade them to date. It turns out the real reason was that her father had cheated on his wife with numerous black women and didn't want her dating anyone who could potentially be her half-brother.
  • Never Have I Ever: Ben. Devi and her best friends are all girls of color (of Indian, Afro-Latina, and Chinese descent, respectively), and so they think that the nickname "UN" that Ben started is a racist term alluding to the United Nations. It actually means "Unfuckable Nerds." (Still not much better.)
  • No Tomorrow: Deirdre tries to back off from her relationship with Hank (who's black) while they're at work, and her boss perceives it wrongly. She's ordered to go into sensitivity training with Hank, but they can't stop themselves from making out right in front of the HR trainer.
    This is a whole different set of paperwork.
  • Orange Is the New Black:
    • In addition to characters who actually are racist or homophobic, which makes it seem that much likelier to be racist, there is this exchange:
      Healy: Which lesbian is that?
      Pennsatucky: With the fat stomach and the haircut.
      Healy: Black? She’s, like, the worst one.
      Pennsatucky: No, she’s white. You know you can’t say that shit around here. Trust me—
      Healy: No, no, no, no. You’re talking about Boo. ‘Black’ is her last name.
    • In season 4, Piper tries to start a task force to end troublemaking in the prison, and inadvertently ends up attracting a bunch of white supremacists, who think that when she refers to "gangs" she means the new influx of Dominican inmates.
  • 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.
  • Played for Drama in Amazon's 2018 adaptation of Picnic at Hanging Rock. Marion has been racelifted to be half Aboriginal and also given an explicit crush on her geography teacher. When Miss McCraw rebuffs Marion's Valentine, she does so on the grounds that such a student-teacher relationship would be wrong, but unfortunately also makes the mistake of telling Marion to leave "before anyone sees you". As the headmistress had just made Marion a job offer but said she would have to stay out of sight of parents because of her race, this comes across to Marion as Miss McCraw rejecting her for the same reason and trying to put a fig leaf over it, rather than genuinely trying to avoid a bad power dynamic.
  • In a Saturday Night Live skit, Keith Olbermann (played by Ben Affleck) "proves" that George W. 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 were 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.
  • Subverted in an episode of The Sarah Silverman Program: Sarah and Laura are thrift shopping when Laura points out a pair of knickers, as in short pants, on one of the racks - Sarah exclaims "ugh, I hate knickers!", leading a black customer in the same aisle to turn around in disgust. However, as Sarah haltingly tries to explain, she looks down and sees the woman is wearing knickers herself - thus she probably understood Sarah correctly, but was offended anyway because she thought her fashion sense was being mocked.
  • Scrubs:
    • There's an episode where the Janitor tricks JD into looking racist by positioning himself between JD and an Asian doctor in order to block the doctor from JD's view, then asking for help with his crossword puzzle.
    Janitor: 5 letters. "Showing vulnerability. A 'blank' in one's armor".
    JD: Chink.
    Janitor: What?
    JD: Chink!
    [Janitor steps to the side to reveal shocked Asian doctor]
    • Another episode contains a flashback to JD and Turk's college days, where Turk is introducing JD to his (all-black) fraternity, with JD in blackface and himself in whiteface. JD is worried about offending them, but Turk assures him that as long as the two of them are together, his frat brothers will find it funny... and then immediately abandons him to go flirt with a hot girl he saw walking by, leaving him all alone when the frat answers the door.
    • 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. Another episode has a patient say something very similar.
    • This is how Carla's brother Marco's beef with Turk started. At Carla's mother's funeral, Turk immediately assumed Marco, a Latino man, was the valet and tossed him his car keys. Turk insists it was Marco's waistcoat and not his ethnicity that gave him the wrong idea.
    • Averted in one episode with Elliot: she just happens to lock her car door at the same time a black guy walks by. She then proceeds to freak out, thinking he mistook her for a racist. Her boyfriend asks the guy, who says he just thought she was locking her door.
    • In another episode, Elliot responds to an overt public display of affection between Turk and Carla by saying she's "a little sick of the Turks". Cue a Turkish colleague, Omar, leaning over from the next table, causing her to clarify.
      • Later in the same scene, JD arrives. When Turk and Carla turn the conversation round to Elliot's social skills at her new job, JD notes "the Turks are sneaky". Turns out he's talking about Omar, who's stolen his pudding cup.
    • Elliot got accused of racism by a patients son's when she got them confused. They thought it was because they were black. She pointed out that it was because they were identical twins. Turk, who was upset with her for another reason, refused to back her up.
  • Seinfeld:
    • In one episode, George notes his new boss's resemblance to boxer Sugar Ray Leonard, only for him to accuse George of thinking all black people look alike. George spends the episode unsuccessfully trying to prove to his boss that he is not racist. In the end, George is vindicated somewhat when a black guy actually mistakes his boss for Sugar Ray... except that his boss had just left a second ago and didn't hear it.
    • In "The Puerto Rican Day", Kramer accidentally sets fire to a Puerto Rican flag during the Puerto Rican Day parade, and then desperately tries to put it out using the only means currently at his disposal: by stomping on it. A man then spots him violently stomping on a burning flag, and makes the obvious assumption. This unfortunately gets the attention of Cedric and Bob. The irony is that Kramer was the only one out of the main cast who was actually having fun at the parade, while everyone else was annoyed that it was holding up traffic and preventing them from going home to watch TV.
    • In "The Cigar Store Indian", Jerry gives Elaine the titular Indian as a gift while she is with a group of her female friends, only to learn that one of the group (who Jerry had a crush on) was Native American. Jerry manages to apologize enough to get a date with her, but ends up continually digging himself deeper by unintentionally doing or saying things that seem racist. Ultimately, he ends up asking a mailman (who is currently facing away from him) for directions to a nearby Chinese restaurant. The mailman turns around and reveals himself to be a very offended Chinese man who assumes he was asked because of his race and not, as Jerry tries to explain, because a mailman would be very familiar with the neighbourhood.
      Jerry: You know, I don't get it. Not allowed to ask a Chinese person where the Chinese restaurant is? Aren't we all getting a little too sensitive? I mean, if someone asks me "which way is Israel?", I don't fly off the handle!
    • Elaine desperately tries to avoid this trope when she's dating a man who she thinks might be black (darker skin tone, curly hair, apartment decorated with African wood carvings, left South Africa for "obvious reasons"), but could just as easily be white. She figures a good compromise is to take him to a bunch of Spanish restaurants. He seemingly confirms that he is black when he says the two of them are an interracial couple, but it turns out that he thought she was Hispanic (thick curly hair, last name "Benes", she kept taking him to Spanish restaurants). When they realize that they're just two white people, they decide to go to the Gap.
    • The episode where Elaine's company was critically dependent on a deal with a Japanese conglomerate. Her boss had a terrible cold, forgot his handkerchief on her desk, and sneezed all over his hands. When he meets with the Japanese businessmen, he refuses to shake their hands because of germs. They think he's accusing them of having germs and are so insulted that they cancel the deal.
    • 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. Hilarity Ensues as they have to keep up the act out of fear that the two actual neo-Nazis in the car with them would kill them if they found out they were faking. It's even more awkward because Jerry is Jewish and George is half-Jewish (George's mother even refuses to get into a German-made car).
      George: Uh, astroturf! You know who's responsible for that, don't you? The Jews!
    • In another episode, Kramer accidentally falls asleep in a tanning bed and stays in there way too long... right before heading over to his black girlfriend's apartment to meet her parents. When he arrives, he's been cooked so thoroughly that he appears to be wearing blackface.
  • Subtle example in Star Trek: Voyager: The crew is stranded on a primitive planet without their technology, and Tuvok presents Chakotay with several weapons he'd fashioned, including a bow and arrow. Chakotay, who is of Native American descent, assumes that it's for him, and replies that his tribe never used the bow. Tuvok clarifies that he'd made the bow for himself, being a former archery instructor.
  • The Strange Calls: Gregor accuses a theater worker of being racist for Black Face when she really got a bucket of black paint dumped over her at the start of episode three.
  • A meta example occurs in Stranger Things. Many viewers interpreted Billy as being racist, due to his particular hatred of Lucas, the only black member of the main gang, particularly when it seems Lucas has a crush on Billy's stepsister Max. Dacre Montgomery, who plays Billy, thinks that Billy's actually just insecure.
  • "Mistaken for homophobe" version shows up in Supernatural, when Dean has his first encounter with The Fair Folk, and then mistakes a (completely human) gay dwarf for one of them and beats him up while yelling about "tiny fairies".
    Officer: I'm just trying to understand just what kinda hate crime this even was.
    Dean: It wasn't a hate crime.
    Officer: I mean, if this gentleman were a full-sized homosexual, would that be okay with you?
  • On The Thin Blue Line, when the Mayoress orders Raymond to arrest an illegal immigrant, she forgets to give him a description of what the man looks like, so he and his officers just arrest the man who opened the door. Unfortunately, he not only isn't the illegal alien, but he's also black and the European Commissioner for Human Rights. Learning of the man's real identity, Raymond is horrified: "A Frenchman? In my station?!"
  • 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 embarrassing, as many frats and sororities 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.
  • 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!
  • Subverted in a Season 1 episode of Murphy's Law when the titular detective was called in by the Professional Standards Unit to help them investigate the suspicious circumstances around the apparent suicide of an Asian detective. Initially they thought racist abuse from his immediate superior had pushed him over the edge, but it quickly became apparent that said superior wasn't a bigot... Turns out he was selling drugs seized in raids on the side, and actually straight-up murdered his subordinate when he refused to be bullied into keeping his mouth shut.

  • There are several rap songs that contain The N-Word in the title, and if you're not black, saying that you like the song could get you dirty looks.
  • 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 the Klan probably wouldn't take kindly to), not to mention all of the black artists they've worked with.
  • Country artist Brad Paisley and LL Cool J wrote the song "Accidental Racist" centrally about this phenomenon, using the image of Paisley being mistaken for a racist by a black man while wearing a t-shirt with a Confederate flag emblazoned on it, and attempting to collaboratively overcome the US's race problems. Of course, irony of ironies, upon release the song was attacked by numerous critics for its pronounced Unfortunate Implications and extremely naive, misguided treatment of its subject matter.
  • The refrain of La Marseillaise ends with a line that can be roughly translated as "so that our fields can be watered with the blood of the impure!" Yeah... In context, "impure" means the Evil Reactionaries who ruled France at the time, not those of mixed race.
  • The German metal band Rammstein has, throughout their career, had to fight off accusations that they are Nazis. The accusation seems to stem from the fact that they're German and sound angry, as opposed to anything more substantive.
    • The original cover of Herzeleid featured the band (all Caucasians) standing shirtless in a row - this was taken by critics to be a "poster for the master race." The band eventually changed the North American version of the cover to show just their faces.
    • Added Irony: Some of the band members support communism and the hammer and sickle has shown up more than once in their music videos.
    • The band got so fed up with these accusations, they eventually wrote a song - Links-2-3-4 - in response. The lyrics of the chorus, in part, translate to "My heart beats on the left."
  • An odd case is the Danish children's song "Jeg har set en rigtig negermand", where only the first verse is commonly known (It essentially goes: "I have seen a real negro man / His head is as black as a bucket of tar / He said a lot of strange things / And in his nose he had a great big ring"). However, after several more verses in the same vein on the various races, the final verse of the song sees the protagonist call for everyone to be painted blue so that we can all live in a world of harmony and togetherness. The Celebration saw the first verse being sung, with a party guest telling her (black) partner that it's a racist song. Cable & Deadpool saw a cult called the One World Church to take this premise to its logical conclusion.
  • Tim Minchin's "Cont" or "Context" has Minchin declare his disdain for minority after minority, only to stop and reveal that he had half the lyrics covered up. He then starts again from the top and incorporates the rest of the lyrics, which provide much-needed context:
    Minchin: I don't like Jews... who make and distribute kiddie porn.

  • 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 mustache (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.
  • 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.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Muhammad Hassan would very often accuse the fans and the other wrestlers of being against him solely for being Middle Eastern. Despite John Cena claiming that "We don't hate you because you're Arab-American, we hate you because you're Asshole-American!", he was not exactly far off the mark with his claims. note 
  • Happened during a feud between "Stone Cold" Steve Austin & Faarooq:
    Austin: It's not a black thing, it's not a white thing; it's a me kicking your ass thing!
  • Bad News Brown would often accuse white opponents of being racist against blacks like him. In one infamous spot, Roddy Piper showed up to their match with half of his body painted black and declared that color doesn't matter.

  • An episode of John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme features a man who is convinced his granddad is racist. The pattern of the sketch is: Grandad says "Now, the thing about [race]...", his grandson tries to stop him, and he actually says something complimentary. The grandson protests that this is still stereotyping, and eventually becomes so confused that he starts saying racist stuff.

  • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Battlefield Friends episode "Recon C4", the Noob says that he'd expect the Medic (who is black) to steal his C4, leading to this exchange:
    Medic: The fuck is that supposed to mean!?
    Noob: You know what it's supposed to mean!
    Medic: No, I don't! Tell me!
    Noob: You're always stealing my kills with your overpowered rifles!
    Medic: ...oh... Oh, I thought you were s—... never mind.
  • Cyanide & Happiness introduces a superhero known as White Knight (clad in garbs reminiscent of the KKK, wears shoes with the Nazi insignia imprinted on the soles, has a cape bearing the Confederate Flag, and flies around on a burning cross), who has brought in Criminals throughout his city (that were all consisting of African-Americans). The Police Chief tries to call him out on this.
    White Knight: Why are you so upset?
    Police Chief: Because WE are supposed to arrest those black people! You're not leaving any for the rest of us.
    White Knight: [beat) ...That's racist.
  • In episode 20 of If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, "Kitten" suggests that people are afraid of the Salamanders because of their black skin, prompting the Emperor to accuse him of being racist and angrily strip his armor off telekinetically. Then it turns out that Kitten is himself black by 2nd millennium standards, but by the 41st millennium's his skin just has a perfectly normal human tone, unlike the Salamanders, who have literal pitch-black skin that looks like they were dipped in tar.
  • Yahtzee Croshaw anticipated this response to his Zero Punctuation review of 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, and spent a good minute of the review in question explaining in exhaustive detail that he is not, in fact, a racist, all while the words "UNFUNNY SOAPBOX BIT" scrolled behind the animation in the background. And then he finished the review with this line:
    Yahtzee: Maybe if the world was a little less prejudiced and little more accepting then people might see that we all have the potential to be so much more and then we can all work together to build a better world for everyone. Not that they'd know anything about work, the lazy ni- *credit sequence*.
  • One episode of The Strangerhood parodied black-and-white detective films, with everything changing color in shades of grey. Sam refers to the color scheme as black and white, which causes Chalmers, the African resident, to think Sam has issues.

    Web Comics 
  • 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!
    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".
  • Hyperbole and a Half: Played for Laughs when a young Allie, drugged out of her mind from dental surgery, tries in public to convince her mother that she's well enough to go to her friend's party. She gets louder, more incoherent, and more desperate as the mother keeps refusing, until...
    It was at that point that my mom noticed all the people glaring at her and realized that, from an outside perspective, it appeared as though she was not only refusing to let her poor, mentally disabled daughter go to a park and/or a birthday party, but was also taunting her child about her disability.
  • In The Last Days of FOXHOUND, Vulcan Raven assumed that the designation of the codename 'The Chinaman' to one of the members of Dead Cell was the result of prejudice. It turns out that Chinaman had chosen this name for himself, a fact that Colonel Jackson had evidently needed to explain many times before.
    Raven: What kind of fucked up codename system do you guys use?
    Jackson: Look, he picked it, alright? I told him it was a bad idea. You don't know how many times I've had this exact conversation.
    Raven: Why would anyone call himself his ethnicity?
    Chinaman: I don't. I'm Vietnamese, thanks very much for asking.
    Raven: It... makes even less sense that way.
    Chinaman: Oh, well sorry my codename doesn't live up to your fascist standards!
    Raven: What?
    Chinaman: Yeah, sure, act confused. I know your type! You think I'm not good enough for special ops!
    Jackson: Oh, god, not this again.
  • Queen Of The Dead by A-gnosis: When Hades refuses to resurrect Demeter's mortal lover on request, she accuses him of Slut-Shaming her. Hades' real concern is that the man would never truly fit in among the living again, but he's tactless enough to ask Demeter what would happen to the man when she gets tired of sleeping with him.
  • Awkward Zombie: In one of the Mass Effect 3 comics, Miranda's father proudly says that he genetically engineered his daughter to be "perfect." Jacob (who is black) pointedly says "so you made her white."
    Shepherd: Not cool, Miranda's Dad!
    Miranda's Dad: No, that's not—I didn't— [jumps out the window]

    Web Original 
  • Clients from Hell:
    • On one story, 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.
    • A lighter example: one client complained about a presentation slide that depicted a black person on a phone, telling its designer to get rid of "those black things." Indignation ensued until the client remembered that the "black things" are called BlackBerries.
  • Not Always Right
    • Not Always Workings has a bank customer ask to see a different teller, because she's deaf and can't lip-read through the teller's burka. The manager absolutely refuses to listen to the customer's explanation and ends up threatening to call the police on her.
    • Not Always Learning has a kindergardener explain to her teacher that she really doesn't like Tiana's color. The teacher is a bit worried before the girl elaborates that she really doesn't like green.
    • A white man asks a black woman: When do you plan to return to Africa?
  • The Fuck My Life website has a story about someone saying he "hates blacks and yellows". He was talking about colored candy, but the black person next to him on the bus misunderstood him.
  • Parodied in this article from The Hard Times, in which the narrator claims that his various racist tattoos are actually anti-racist, but he keeps running out of money, so he can't finish them.

    Web Videos 
  • Rhett & 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.
  • 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 the Rooster Teeth Short "Pongo", Joel is repeatedly being labeled racist when he comments on the new intern, who happens to be a puppet.
  • In "Wolfenstein," an episode of Hardly Working, Owen excitedly shows Pat and Murph what he believes to be his grandfather's collection of Wolfenstein 3D merchandise. Unfortunately, the "merchandise" is actually horrific Nazi propaganda, including a picture of Owen's grandfather with Adolf Hitler, incriminating documents that discuss a "final solution," and an autographed copy of Mein Kampf (which Owen thinks is "German for Wolfenstein."). Owen cheerfully posts pictures of the items online, which inadvertently brings a huge group of Neo-Nazis to the office.
  • The Epic Rap Battles of History battle between Shaka Zulu and Julius Caesar had Caesar's final line of "But there's no use in murdering you and your heathen/You can grow my wheat for me after you're beaten", implying enslavement. Many viewers left comments finding that line racist given Shaka is black; it was more the fact that the Roman Empire enslaved everyone they conquered regardless of skin color.

    Western Animation 
  • On American Dad!, Steve had his black lab partner over at the house and Francine made her leave, explaining that she didn't feel comfortable with "her kind" in the house. It turns out that she actually noticed that the girl in question was left-handed, which turns out be a case of Boomerang Bigotry.
  • Archer: In season 6, Ray loses his right hand. Krieger eventually builds him a new one... That has black skin. Throughout the season, Ray continuously voices his discontent with it. The others, particularly Lana (who is black) assume he's being racist, but he's actually upset about it being robotic. Eventually, Ray realizes what he sounded like and, horrified, rushes off to apologize to Lana... And manages to cripple himself even further.
  • The Brickleberry episode "Write 'Em Cowboy" has Steve become popular with the gay community due to his country songs containing unintentional innuendos alluding to gay sex. Steve isn't too pleased to find out exactly why his music is popular, but has a change of heart when a gay kid named Billy Black informs him that his music prevented him from committing suicide. Steve then sings a song dedicated to Billy Black, but his poor choice of lyrics gets him in trouble for sounding unintentionally racist.
    Steve: I'm so sorry, Billy Black, people suck.
    It's not your fault, Billy Black, people stink.
    Don't worry, Billy Black, people are animals.
    I'd like to tie them to my pickup truck and drag them down the road.
  • Cleveland in The Cleveland Show is accused of being racist towards Mexicans from her neighbor Choni.
  • Family Guy:
    • Brian gets it from his father. It's a Running Gag, and in at least one episode the full attempts to prove "not racist" backfiring is shown.
    • Another one has Peter sent to sensitivity training and coming back as a Straw Feminist. At one point he gets up in front of a gathering of men and rants that it's their fault that there's so much crime and violence in the world. Unfortunately, said gathering happened to be the Million Man March.
    • And when Peter tries smoking crack:
      Brian: Where'd you get crack?
      Peter: From blacks.
      Brian: What?!
      Peter: Yeah, right behind Black's Hardware Store. There's a white guy sellin' it.
    • In "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 "Deep Throats", Brian gets a job as a cab driver. When he sees Cleveland, he decides against picking him up to buy some milk, causing Cleveland to assume Brian didn't pick him up because he's black. At the end of the episode, Cleveland retaliates by smashing Brian's cab with a golf club.
    • In "A Shot in the Dark", Peter unwittingly shoots Cleveland Jr. at night after mistaking him for a burglar, but people assume it was a hate crime.
  • 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 conveying that "racism is bad", culminating in a group of churchgoers and the female Priest singing on Hank's lawn with a big cross, points out the hypocrisy of condemning racism yet taking a similar attitude towards those who don't share the same viewpoint.
    • 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?"
  • At one point, in Metalocalypse the crew of Dethklok was accused of being racist, and so decided to hold a community outreach concert to prove otherwise. Unfortunately, due to Toki's revenge meddling, they joined his special "Special Persons Invites Club", and showed up wearing his special club outfits (white robes and hoods), in front of a model of the club logo (a white letter T, for Toki).
  • 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 and 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.
  • Robot Chicken:
    • A sketch has Batman and Robin playing checkers, with the latter stating his distaste for playing the black side. Unfortunately, The Falcon walks by just as Robin yells out "I hate black!", leading to some awkwardness, to put it mildly.
    • Another sketch has a little boy getting amazed when a black stallion starts talking to him. The stallion, talking in an African-American accent, angrily accuses the boy of assuming he was dumb just because he was black. The boy tries to explain that a horse doesn't normally talk, but this just makes him angrier.
  • The Simpsons:
    • White-on-white example: In a "future" episode, Homer and Bart horrify Lisa's British fiancé by accidentally setting the Union Jack on fire.
    • Another white-on-white example (actually a subversion, in that the victim really does have negative attitudes):
      [Krusty the Clown has just learned that he never had his bar mitzvah]
      Krusty: I thought I was a self-hating Jew, but it turns out I'm just a plain anti-Semite.
      Rainier Wolfcastle: [sympathetically] We have so much to discuss...
      [Krusty groans]
    • In one episode, Krusty hosts — at the Apollo Theater in Harlem — a show called "Krusty's Komedy Klassics" which has the show's initials in large white letters in the background. Cue Produce Pelting from the offended crowd.
      Krusty: KKK? That's not good!
    • From "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo", once the family had arrived in Japan (it's the cheapest vacation they could afford, long story) and have wandered for a while, Homer is bored...
      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!
  • South Park:
    • Randy Marsh used the n-word on television in "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson", thinking it was the answer to a Wheel of Fortune bonus puzzle. It didn't help that the topic was "People Who Annoy You," and currently the parts he had solved spelled out N_GGERS. Even the black audience members came to the same conclusion. To anyone wondering, the right answer was Naggers. Stan later defends him saying his father isn't racist, just stupid.
    • 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" that more than resemble KKK members), 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 suggests sell all of the rich people's houses and become rich themselves. When Jimbo and Randy point out that means there would still be rich people in town and they would become what they hate, Mr. Garrison remarks "Well, at least we got rid of those damn ni-" *episode ends*
    • At the end of "Summer Sucks", an attempt to make the world's biggest ash-snake covers everyone with soot. Chef drives up and, assuming they're in blackface, tells them all to line up for an ass-kicking.
    • In "Cartman's Silly Hate Crime 2000", Cartman is sent to prison for committing a hate crime when he threw a rock at Token for completely unrelated, but still stupid, reasons.
    • And there's "Chef Goes Nanners" where Chef lobbies to have the town's flag changed, as it depicts four white men hanging a black man. To Chef's indignation, Stan and Kyle claim to not see what the big deal is. He's completely convinced that they're racists... until he realizes that they were so entirely not racist that they didn't think of the men on the flag as four white men hanging a black man, but merely as four men hanging another man. Jimbo and Ned, who aren't racist but are against having the flag changed for the sake of preserving history, sneak into a KKK meeting disguised as Klan members in order to convince them to switch sides, since they know nobody will vote for whichever side the KKK supports (in fact that's the argument they used, and the KKK agreed with them). When they sneak out of the meeting, they remove their hoods, only for Chef to drive by at that exact moment.
  • 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 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").
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • The Alchemist, remarking upon Jefferson Twilights' outfit, says "black is slimming". Cue a stony-faced expression from the African-American Jefferson.
    • A later episode had Dermott helping Dean seduce Trianna. He tells Dean to put on a ghost costume (actually a KKK outfit) because goths love ghosts, and write "TRIANNA" on her lawn with wooden boards. When the T is accidentally set aflame, her stepfather comes out with a shotgun, accusing him of being a racist bastard. The stepfather himself is Ambiguously Brown.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In the episode "Surviving the Spiderbites", Star invites the Spiderbite royal family to Mewni in the hopes that they will make an alliance with Eclipsa, treating them to refreshments, some abstract art and an elaborate monster dance, all of which they hate. Star assumes that they, like most other Mewmans, hate monsters and that is the reason for their disapproval. She's immediately proven wrong when Princess Penelope's monster boyfriend shows up and is welcomed warmly by her parents. As it turns out their problem wasn't with monsters; all of the stuff Star had shown them was associated with Globgor, who, among various other atrocities, apparently ate Shastacan, Queen Spiderbite's great-uncle several times removed. Star apparently didn't do any research beforehand.

    Real Life 
  • The so-called Water Buffalo Incident, in which Pennsylvania University student Eden Jacobowitz was charged with violating the school's racial harassment policy when he yelled "Shut up, you water buffalo!" out the window of his dorm to a noisy, mostly black crowd of students. Ironic in the fact that Jacobowitz was Jewish, and his usage of "water buffalo" was a rough translation of the Hebrew "behema", referring to a noisy, rowdy person. The school's official complaint referring to water buffalo as large, black animals that dwell in Africa also hit a major snag when it was pointed out that water buffalo are, in fact, Asian. Nevertheless, other commentators noted that the act of associating Black Americans with animals itself is often used as a racist trope.
  • Australian entertainer Bert Newton once famously said "I like the boy!" when referring to Muhammad Ali, who didn't take it that well. Bert was making a Call-Back to a recurring comedy routine in which he impersonated Colonel Sanders — unfortunately in America, boy can be considered a racist insult ("No matter how old he is, a black man is always 'boy'"). Luckily, Muhammad Ali did quickly get over it.
  • In 1999 Washington, D.C. ombudsman David Howard, a white man, 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 note . 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 happened to be gay and his resignation (widely believed to be forced) was roundly protested by gay-rights activists. Howard's boss, then-mayor Anthony Williams, later conceded that he'd "acted too hastily" in accepting Howard's resignation.
  • 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.
  • In one episode of The Apprentice, one of the contestants used the phrase "The pot calling the kettle black" when referring to one of the other contestants, who then took it to be a racist comment.
  • AV Club criticized the 2013 South Park episode "Black Friday" for "having the mangled pronunciation of the 'Black Friday Bundle' repeated over and over" by Japanese characters, the article author citing it as an "unfortunate" example of how the show "mocked foreign cultures in un-PC ways." However, the phrase, "burakkufuraidē bandoru" is in fact correct Japanese ("ブラックフライデーバンドル") for "Black Friday Bundle." If anything, the way it's pronounced in the episode is due to Americans mangling the pronunciation of a Japanese phrase, not vice versa.
  • On the reality web series Strip Search, Alex designed a T-shirt with a crest featuring the initials of the show. The judges cautioned him on this subject, noting that there were inherent problems with a military-esque symbol with "SS" in the middle and that even if he didn't think of that, "someone will".
  • There's a hospital in Northampton, Massachusetts called Cooley-Dickinson, but locals tend to abbreviate it to "Cooley-Dick" and on at least one occasion this has been mistaken for a racial slur when referring to the interns at the hospital, many of whom are Asian-American.
  • More than one prominent politician, including former presidential candidates John Kerry, John McCain, and Mitt Romney, has been accused of racism for using the phrase "tar baby". Many assumed it was a racist slur; in actuality, it refers to a problem that only gets worse the more heavily you get involved in it (the original reference came from the Uncle Remus stories). Most politicians now use the less-charged terms "quagmire" or "the third rail", depending on the context of the issue.
  • The 2010 South African World Cup starting 11 had 10 black players and 1 white. The white player's name was Matthew Booth. Cue horrified, mostly foreign Moral Guardians who had watched the overwhelmingly black South African crowd yelling "Boooooooooo(th)" every time Booth had the ball.
  • A potential problem for equestrians talking about Arab horses as seen by this post on an equestrian forum. Turns out, it can be badly taken out of context if you say "Normally, I'm not a fan of Arabs..."
  • A local TV news program once investigated an Australian man who'd apparently called a real estate ad that said "No Asians" into a local newspaper. It turned out he meant something else entirely: In a case of One Dialogue, Two Conversations, he was opposed to dealing with real estate agents.
  • A few people protested (and still joke) about the fact that Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers' Yellow Ranger Trini and Black Ranger Zack were played by a Vietnamese actress and an African-American actor respectively. According to Zack's actor Walter Jones, he was originally going to be the Blue Ranger but the producers decided to shift him to Black for continuity with the original Super Sentai footagenote , which Jones okayed because he thought the Black costume looked cooler. As for Trini, she was played by a Hispanic actress in the pilot episode, but was recast after demanding more money. Nobody on the staff realized the implications of the casting until after several episodes had been filmed, at which point it was too late to do anything about it.
    • And irony of ironies, this uproar has since lead to a greater case of racism: a male Native American can never lead a Power Ranger team because he would be a "red man" because the Red Ranger generally leads the team and the one exception was a White Ranger which would be worse. The White Ranger (who was also the Red Ranger for two later power sets) was a Native American character played by a white actor; oddly enough this went largely unremarked at the time.
  • In American Gun culture, you might hear the words "tranny" and "postie" pop up during a conversation. While both of these can be used as transphobic slurs, here they refer to transferable machine guns and non-transferable (which were all made post-1986) machine guns.
    • Tranny can also be used with car enthusiasts too, referring to the transmission.
  • The undercut, a hairstyle that has the hair buzzed on the sides but left long on top, became popular among young men in The New '10s. It also became popular among white nationalists, most notably by Richard Spencer, because it looked less threatening than the "skinhead" look. In response to this, users on dating apps like Tinder began rejecting any guy who had this hairstyle. The hairstyle started to fall out of favor as men who weren't white nationalists tried to avoid this trope. (Only applies in America and England though. It does not seem to carry any political implications in Francophone countries.)
  • In November 2018, a white general manager of a St. Paul, Minnesota, Chipotle restaurant was recorded by a group of several young African American people saying that the group needed to pay for their food before ordering it claiming that they never have any money on them. The group posted the video on social media, accusing her of racial discrimination, and led to her getting fired by Chipotle, and the company issued an apology to the group. Sympathizers, wanting to support the group, combed over the leader's Twitter feed and discovered that he and his friends had been bragging about how they managed to pull a number of "dine dashes" across the city, and surmised that the manager meant that she was preventing them from pulling another dine and dash on her restaurant.
  • Criticizing Islam often ends in accusations of racism, it does not help that Islam is linked exclusively with Arabs and the people of the Middle East in general, even though not all Arabs are Muslims or all Muslims are Arabs. This article by Cracked -written by a liberal ex-Muslim- explains in detail how valid criticism of Islam is often-erroneously or intentionally-branded as racist, and at the same time valid criticism of Islam is hijacked and distorted by racist groups. On the other hand, the stereotypical association of Muslims with turbans has led to a rise of Sikhs getting discriminated against and even attacked.
  • A similar situation exists with linking any criticism of Israel, no matter what the substance of it, to being racist against Jews. In extreme cases this can extend to being at all sympathetic to Palestinians. Such accusations will even be leveled at Jewish critics of Israel, including those who are themselves Israeli citizens.
  • Actor Tyrese Gibson (who is black) was once asked by a BET reporter whether his ongoing — and rather angry — feud with James Franco (who is white) had anything to do with the fact that he (Gibson) was black and Franco was white. The way the question was phrased made it clear that the reporter believed that the argument was somehow based in racism on Franco's part. Gibson quickly ended that assumption by saying, "My beef with him has absolutely nothing to do racism, because he's absolutely not a racist. But it does have everything to do with his being an gigantic asshole. 'Cause that's what he is, a gigantic asshole."
  • The use of non-nazi swastikas can cause this.
  • An american basketball player meets the Ku Klux Klan on a street in Spain...
  • In Latin America the word "negro" does not have negative connotations (it's simply the Spanish word for "black") - of course, it all depends on the context in which it is used - and calling someone "mi negro" or "negrito" is often an affectionate nickname among friends or romantic partners. However, when the Uruguayan soccer player Edinson Cavani in a conversation in Spanish called one of his friends "mi negrito” on social media, he was accused of racism, and heavily fined. This in turn led many Uruguayans to accuse the English authorities of being racist for imposing their own cultural parameters on a conversation in another language.
  • A Japanese Apex Legends player was slapped with a 7-day ban for hate speech due to someone on their team mistaking the player's romaji rendering of "逃げろ" (nigero), which translates to "RUN!!", as the N-word.
  • A notable incident that contributed to the great Prince Philip Mountbatten-Windsor's public image as "Gaff Man" was his interaction with neighboring Aborigine tribes in Australia in 2002. One tribe admitted they and the other tribe used to exchange spears in the martial sense, and the Duke of Edinburgh had one question for the leader of said other tribe as a result: "Do you still chuck spears at each other?" The whole tribe thought that one was Actually Pretty Funny, but it subsequently ended up being one of many Duke of Edinburgh quips the Daily Mail and similar tabloids took out of context.


Video Example(s):


Scary Movie 3 - In the Hood

In "Scary Movie 3," George has just seriously impressed a crowd with his battle-rapping skills. But when he puts a hood over his head and looks like a KKK member ("Yo, we're in the hood now!") and does what looks like a Nazi salute, the only person that's surprised when they toss him out a window is him.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / MistakenForRacist

Media sources:

Main / MistakenForRacist