I’m from Bulgaria and still learning more about English language usage. Impressed by one of the presidential hopefuls I told my cousin,”This boy, Obama, is the best orator of them all.” She looked at me with fear and explained that it was dangerous to call a black man “boy,” since slave owners had used that term for their male slaves in the nineteenth century. It did not matter that I was not a slave-owner or that Obama had never been a slave.
Maybe you have to be an outsider to be surprised at such sensitivity, but I should point out that the world knows about slavery and segregation in America. It will benefit America to learn the history of the world. Other nations have had much worse for many more centuries and they do not brood on the past as much.