We talked about this in class tonight. My prof (a dual-citizen who has lived in lots of Canadian and American places) was appalled that Lohan would make such a statement. She vented to a friend; her friend said it was simply because Lohan was stupid.
My prof argues very differently--it's appalling not because Lohan as an individual was racist, but because it means somebody, somewhere along the line had show her this word represents this group of people (underground and quiet racism). Think about it--we have to learn our words from somewhere.
Yet, the biggest twist in the class discussion that my prof was unprepared for was when she asked us, "How many of you didn't know "coloured" was a racial slur?" And a very surprising percentage of the class put up their hand. Including me. (Note: I come from a very homogeneous Caucasian area of Canada.)
Then she started referring to how "people of colour..." but didn't get very far because there was an instant murmur in the classroom. We figured out that lots of my classmates, including myself, assumed that calling someone "coloured" was the different grammatical form of saying "a person a colour."
Ignorance from a lack of exposure? Definitely. A fair excuse? No--if we hadn't assumed that the old Southern American movies we had all seen at some point were completely outdated (hence the ability of one to use "person of colour," in our minds) we would've known this and never made such a consequential error of assumption.
But also, we were wondering what the effects of a) our age (growing up being taught by everyone that all people are equal regardless of skin colour) and b) our location were on this incorrect assumption.
I'm curious because so many (though not all) of my classmates assumed this was a respectful term--are there any other parts of the world out there that don't see this term as a slur? Do you think Lohan just had no idea this was a slur? She's exactly the same age as myself and my classmates, though from a different location.