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It is not neccessarily racist in itsself, but it does have me wondering what your point is. I once referred to a black friend as being black and she let me know that the proper term was African American.
As I told her, I will be happy to use whichever term is excepted - but stop changing it every few years! I overheard a man tell the DJ that the [insert my type of car here] belonged to "that white dude over there." I wasn't offended and can't see how it was racist.
The white guy who told you that is overcompensating and trying to look "enlightened," but he ends up just looking foolish. There may be more than one in the room in your example. It's no worse than tall guy, bearded guy, red-headed guy, guy in wheelchair.... however, i *do* think it is a borderline case when you hear people refer to peoples colour when it has *nothing* to do with the issue at hand "this black astrophysist thinks blahblahblah" for example.
Unless his or her ethnicity has specific relevance to the story.
Maybe he is dating your sister or goes to your school or something.Is it racist to say "That black guy over there" instead of "That tall guy in the corner" or "The guy with the beard" or something simliar?As far as I know, you always use the most distinguishing feature to describe someone which in this case is that he is black.It's racist to judge them based on the fact that they have different colored skin.
So, no, using someone's skin color as a distinguishing characteristic is not racist in and of itself. "Black guy" is as inoffensive as either of the others since it merely describes a physical feature.
As far as the OP goes though, no, I don't think so. Mentioning that someone is black is not inherently racist, no more than mentioning that someone is blond.