Anyway, at times the black ladies would get very offended and ask me if I was afraid to say the word "black" and did I think there was something wrong with them being black. Trying to explain that I was trying to be sensitive just got me in deeper and affirmed to them that somehow I was implying there was something wrong with being black.
In college I had a black professor do the same thing in front of the whole class, because I fumbled over chosing the right word in describing a black person ( I was young and unsure whether black or africian american was the better word to use ) and he came after me after class, got in front of me where I could not get around him and he told me he knew what I was and he wasn't going to cut me any slack over it. He told me I had better not make any mistakes in his class. Not sure exactly what he was getting at. I never said a peep in class except when he called on me, I was still extremely shy then, so I don't know how he came to the conclusion that he knew what I was.
So I mean if one is white (and perhaps the southern accent doesn't help) and you don't use the word black to describe blacks, finding other ways of describing them, it also is taken as offensive.
However, I will say that I never had such problems in the state where I was born, just outside of it so I think the accent is part of the issue.