‘I’m not… But…’

How many times a day do we hear something like ‘I’m not racist, but…’ or ‘I’m not being mean, but…’ or ‘I’m not jealous, but…’ These phrases are something I hear constantly – in the school playground, among friends or just overhearing conversations in the street. I even see this sort of thing regularly on social media too.

It’s something that has bothered me for so long that the last time I heard ‘I’m not… but…’ I just had to write about it. Because, whatever follows the I’m not… you can be sure as hell that person is just that.

You see, if you say you’re not racist but your local town is far too ethnically diverse or there are too many foreign kids in your child’s school then really, you are racist and you are just trying to glaze over the fact your opinion comes from a racist part of you.

And if you say you’re not jealous but why does your childless friend need a four bedroom detached house and a big car – then you are jealous. And what business is it of yours anyway?

If you say you’re not being mean but that woman at the other side of the restaurant needs to buy clothes a size bigger than she’s wearing – that is mean. It’s unnecessary and uncalled for. You are mean and there is no ‘but’ about it.

If you say ‘I’m not sexist but…’, ‘I’m not being a cow but…’, ‘I’m not anything – but…’ then you are exactly that. And this phrase is far too common for me to ignore it anymore. If you have an opinion – be loud and proud and have that opinion. Own it but don’t try and slide it into normal conversation. And if it’s an opinion that you know you shouldn’t be having – let alone voicing – keep it firmly to yourself.

‘I’m not… but…’ makes conversation awkward for everyone else. When listening to someone say this sort of thing we have two choices – to pull them up on it and say, hang on – you are actually being racist/sexist/homophobic etc or we ignore it, glaze over it and then seem like we are agreeing with them by not saying anything to let them know otherwise.

So the next time someone says ‘I’m not… but…’ I know I’ll be telling them exactly what they are. They are racist, they are sexist, they are homophobic or they are just being a complete cow – and there is just no need for it.

How about we all just be exactly what we should be for a change – nice.

'I'm not... But...'


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. Well said! As you can imagine, we hear this a lot in passing or from people we know, and before they’ve even said what they’re going to say I know it’s going to be homophobic/racist/sexist.

    Although I’d rather people not hold some of the thoughts that they do, if they really must hold certain opinions then they should keep them firmly in their head.

    Brilliant post, Donna.

  2. I’m not i’m not i’m not. I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of using this phrase, but it is one I avoid for the reasons you’ve outlined. Then again, sometimes I think people are too wary of starting a discussion on a controversial subject and use the phrase as a means to ease themselves into it. It’s clumsy, but I’d need to hear what they said next before jumping to judgement!

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