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Subject: This Week My Son Learned Something About Race rss

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Dave G
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This is actually a pretty good, reasonable, and not obnoxious post from you. I'm impressed.

My wife and I have had some conversations about how to handle this with our daughter, especially because she is a quarter Mexican but has an extended family that very strongly identifies as culturally Mexican. The source of our consternation is that my pop has a tendency to make off-color self-deprecating jokes about Mexicans. While it's one of those irritating but easily-ignored things for us now, we don't want our daughter to a) self-identify with negative traits when she doesn't understand they're jokes or, much worse b) start thinking it's ok to make those jokes. It's going to be a tricky thing to navigate.
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I still use the term wog, but only against those who have sailed seas and have yet to cross the equator. But I sometime use it as a term for acting like a newb..

I have yet to hear it in a racial way. When I was in England, I did hear the term "Dirty Paki" quite a bit. A lot of animosity towards immigration I assume.

In my personal lexicon, I have stopped using the term "Fag", which was usually thrown about amongst friends growing up in the 80's. I've also stopped using the term "jewing" when asking if someone is trying to make a deal.

I still use "gypped" quite a bit, even though it has some latent history as a racial term
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Yeah, there's a shameful amount of "fag" and "that's gay" in my past, too.
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I (and now my son, so maybe I should quit it) refer to people who can't drive as "monkeys." As in, no human being could possibly be that unskilled. It's linguistically derived from monkeyfunker, which Shenomad and I use to euphemise our favourite pre-offspring profanity.
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tommynomad wrote:
I (and now my son, so maybe I should quit it) refer to people who can't drive as "monkeys." As in, no human being could possibly be that unskilled. It's linguistically derived from monkeyfunker, which Shenomad and I use to euphemise our favourite pre-offspring profanity.

Do you mean people like me who can't see well enough to drive or just bad drivers?
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'Wog' is a weird one. It apparently super offensive worldwide, but has lost any racist connotation here, mostly due to an endless deluge of wogsploitation movies and TV.





Famously parodied thusly:

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Koldfoot wrote:
A couple weeks ago I used the word "oriental".

I got a lecture on how racist it was.

I had no idea. I'm still not sure.


I learned some years back that people are Asian, rugs are oriental. -Not my quote. It was from a female Asian comedian I saw on tv.

But here's a question I've had for a few years now, but I haven't known who to ask. Please no one take offense. When I was a kid, we played smear the queer. That's just what the game was called. I don't imagine that's pc on the playground. What is that game called now?

(edit spelling)
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Alaren wrote:

Can you remember the last time you learned a "new" slur?


Yes. About 30 seconds ago. From you.
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Was there actual mouth soaping?

Why was "stupid" forbidden?
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I'm going to respectfully disagree with much of what you just posted. And bananahawk if you don't like it (per Clay's thread).

Alaren wrote:


In April of 2007, I was eating my lunch and half-watching the news when I first heard the name "Don Imus." He had swatted the news-media hornet's nest by referring to a college women’s basketball team "nappy-headed hos."

It will be hard to forget the moment when I learned that "hos" was not the (only?) word everyone was pissed about. I had only heard the word "nappy" a few times in my life, always uttered by girls complaining about their own matted or knotted hair and the difficulty they were having brushing it out. So far as I understood, it was a word like "mauve" or "taupe," a fine-grained distinction on a spectrum I did not perceive in such high resolution--like the (misconceived) proverb about Eskimos and their many words for snow, it did not really surprise me that girls with long, well-styled hair would have words for hair I did not know, states of hair I could not discern or describe.

When the talking head on the TV launched into a tirade about the racist undertones of bringing up the kerchiefs ("nappys") worn by house-slaves (in reality? in the movies?) I was completely dumbfounded. At 26 years old, there I sat, learning a new racial slur.

Not the education I expected to get at law school!



Really, nappy head hos and you couldn't figure out that they were degrading black women, based on the term "nappy headed"? This really shows that you have zero clue about being a minority in the world. I don't have a clue about being a black women, but I would have instantly have understood what was meant by nappy head hos. Words to degrade black women. With your misunderstanding despite years of "law school", there's no wonder that half this country is so complete dumbfounded when it runs into real sexual harassment and racial discrimination.

Alaren wrote:


Surely you all remember the monkey. There I was, in that same lunch room, watching that same TV, when it happened again! Well, the monkey cartoon itself was clearly another example of stupid people looking for stupid ways to feel offended, but during its coverage of the non-event, at one point someone on CNN said (as best I recall):
Sure, a cartoon likening people supporting a stimulus bill
This was completely mind-blowing to me. I mean, nobody likes to be portrayed as a rat, right? But what's racist about that? Sure enough, though, with the advent of the internet it was easy to confirm that disparaging Jews with rat comparisons has as much history as disparaging aboriginals* with monkey comparisons.



Is it such a stretch that a cartoon likening the author of the stimulus bill (is there really a stretch to think that the author is referring to Barack Obama?) to a monkey is racist? Is it common to liken the author a piece of legislation to a monkey? I welcome you to go find such comparisons.

Alaren wrote:


The most overtly, unapologetically, shockingly racist thing I've ever heard someone say, sincerely and in person, was an Argentinian talking about the (arguably more native) soldiers from a neighboring country, saying, "I would look into their eyes and think, 'Yes, there it is, I see the monkey in there.'" So no, it's not just blacks.



Yes, because prejudice isn’t prejudice if it can be extended to other groups.
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Alaren wrote:
she2 wrote:
Really, nappy head hos and you couldn't figure out that they were degrading black women, based on the term "nappy headed"? This really shows that you have zero clue about being a minority in the world. I don't have a clue about being a black women, but I would have instantly have understood what was meant by nappy head hos. Words to degrade black women. With your misunderstanding despite years of "law school", there's no wonder that half this country is so complete dumbfounded when it runs into real sexual harassment and racial discrimination.


Where am I supposed to have gleaned this information? You might bear in mind the emphasis I placed on learning and children in my post, the question I asked about how children are best educated regarding these things, and the concern I have that simply knowing the epithets constitutes a sort of taint in thought.

Asking someone "How on Earth could you not know that?" is not a cure for ignorance. I was ignorant of a fact with little bearing on my existence, in part because I was not raised to be racist and in part because I was rarely on the receiving end of racist words. But isn't that actually the ideal? To be raised both not racist and not a victim of racism? And if that is the ideal--how is one ever to learn about racial epithets? Should one learn about them, deliberately, as a child? To what extent?

she2 wrote:
Is it such a stretch that a cartoon likening the author of the stimulus bill (is there really a stretch to think that the author is referring to Barack Obama?) to a monkey is racist?


Yep.

she2 wrote:
Yes, because prejudice isn’t prejudice if it can be extended to other groups.


Nobody here appears to be claiming that.

Your response to my post is puzzling. You seem to have disliked it tremendously but nothing you've said here really tells me why. If you think it's just the product of privilege that I could even ask these questions, well, I copped to a somewhat sheltered lifestyle already. What more can I say? Do you want me to apologize for having been raised in an environment where racism was just not something I ever really saw or experienced? I don't understand where the hostility is coming from.


Being white in America is an exercise in cluelessness, there is no doubt. But the level of effort that some people seem to put into being able to say "I'm just clueless" is astounding. Google is an amazing thing. You can find out a lot. Witness the posts of many RSPers. Yet, you, the law school graduate, couldn't have googled nappy haired? Seriously? And you want me to take you seriously? I really don't. You might be sheltered but there are a lot of tools (duh, google) that even law school graduates could be able to take advantage of. If you want to stay clueless, then that's far easier, but don't expect me to cut you slack when you feign cluelessness when grasping a clue was far beyond your grasp. It's just not sincere.

(and honestly, this is not reflection on you, but more on just white men determined cluelessess that I don't buy).
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Alaren wrote:


Your response to my post is puzzling. You seem to have disliked it tremendously but nothing you've said here really tells me why. If you think it's just the product of privilege that I could even ask these questions, well, I copped to a somewhat sheltered lifestyle already. What more can I say? Do you want me to apologize for having been raised in an environment where racism was just not something I ever really saw or experienced? I don't understand where the hostility is coming from.


I'm sure it is puzzling. But it has nothing to do with me thinking you are "priviliged" (a word I LOATHE), but more a comment on what I perceive as insincerity. I don't want you to apologize for a sheltered lifestyle, but I do expect you to apologize for not using your mind to explore what is meant by certain terms that degrade those amongst us and fight against their use instead of posting a thread as if they are harmless. They aren't.
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she2 wrote:
(and honestly, this is not reflection on you, but more on just white men determined cluelessess that I don't buy).


Nothing racist or sexist there... nope, nope. Because it didn't come from a white man. cool
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Koldfoot wrote:
One more thing: black, white, red or yellow, if you are dressed like a hoodlum, you are going to be profiled. If you want to wear baggy clothes, a snot-rag headband, and a crooked hat, you have no one but yourself to blame for being "profiled", by the cops or a businessman.


Careful, I tried to make the point before that if you dress, act and talk like a wannabe thug, people are going to treat you differently.

I was, of course, called racist for it. Because it's racist to point out the truth.
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Alaren wrote:
I had only heard the word "nappy" a few times in my life, always uttered by girls complaining about their own matted or knotted hair and the difficulty they were having brushing it out. So far as I understood, it was a word like "mauve" or "taupe," a fine-grained distinction on a spectrum I did not perceive in such high resolution--like the (misconceived) proverb about Eskimos and their many words for snow, it did not really surprise me that girls with long, well-styled hair would have words for hair I did not know, states of hair I could not discern or describe.

When the talking head on the TV launched into a tirade about the racist undertones of bringing up the kerchiefs ("nappys") worn by house-slaves (in reality? in the movies?) I was completely dumbfounded. At 26 years old, there I sat, learning a new racial slur.

Kerchiefs worn by house slaves? Me and Stevie Wonder call bullshit.

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Koldfoot wrote:
A couple weeks ago I used the word "oriental".

I got a lecture on how racist it was.

I had no idea. I'm still not sure.

I still use oriental from time to time. In fact, used it just this afternoon when talking to a black Jennifer about the other oriental Jennifer. Usually it's delivered with friendly irony, but I really do think it's a fine word, particularly when referring to those actually born and raised in the Orient.
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Nappy was new to me as a perjorative when the Imus thing happened. I agree that it's fairly easy to see why it's considered racist, but like Alaren, I knew the hos was derogatory, but didn't know about nappy-headed until then.

We use blond around here as a friendly perjorative. I was blond haired growing up, my kids and wife are all blond. I think we started using it when my second daughter was in grade school. She's smart as a whip, but (at least was) clueless about a lot of practical things (and she gets it honest, but we're hoping she will grow out of it). So when one of our kids does a silly thing, we say, "Well, you are blond!"

When I grew up (in Indiana), we told Polack* or Kentuckian jokes. These are the same ones that have been recycled as blond jokes and next generation will probably have some new identity (here's hoping that they don't become too non-PC to share as some of them actually are pretty funny.)

I grew up thinking "Jewing someone down" was just an expression until I used to to a vendor at Gencon more than a decade ago. He got a really funny look on his face and during the ensuing discussion, it arose that he was Jewish and that it was a really hurtful thing to some. I've not used it since. I have a fraternity brother that is Jewish and he used it all the time in college often in a self-deprecatory manner, but also applied it and the term "like a Jew" when talking about someone being cheap. Until meeting him, I was never aware of knowing a Jewish person (rural Indiana again).

We also use the self-deprecating concepts of not being able to dance because we're white. With a special needs child, retarded is completely gone as an insult and causes me cringes when I hear it used as an insult.

It's an interesting coincidence that wog came up yesterday. My wife was playing her find the word game on her iPhone and asked if wog wasn't a word and she was completely unaware of its derivation (worker of government) and that it could be an insult. So tying back into the OP, that was her latest one. Nappy might be my latest, but it seems like I've learned a few since then (possibly from my high schooler), but they don't come to mind right now.


*oddly enough, my daughter's DI coach probably started the, "Well, you are blond!" meme and was raised in Hamtramck and married a guy that defected from Poland. She uses Polack when chiding her husband and daughter for doing something stupid.
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When I was little, my mother once explained to me how people addressing her as "woman" was being insulting and rude. There's nothing inherently rude about the word itself, just the way they were using it. The word "Jew" is similarly not inherently offensive but can be used in a way that is.
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Alaren wrote:
Sky Knight X wrote:
Alaren wrote:

Can you remember the last time you learned a "new" slur?


Yes. About 30 seconds ago. From you.


Which one? That is, if you don't mind me asking.

sbszine wrote:
'Wog' is a weird one.




That's the one

she2 wrote:

Really, nappy head hos and you couldn't figure out that they were degrading black women, based on the term "nappy headed"?


Nope. Not me. I had never heard the term either and had no idea it was a racial slur against black women. I am not feigning cluelessness, and I am not determined to feign cluelessness.


I am sure there are dozens, if not hundreds, of racial slurs I am clueless about.

Maybe there's a list somewhere on Google that I could find all the racial slurs and the meaning behind them. Maybe I should study this list dutifully and check back often for new slurs being added.

Then I might be confident enough to feign outrage and foist faux guilt upon those more clueless than myself.
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Sky Knight X wrote:
she2 wrote:

Really, nappy head hos and you couldn't figure out that they were degrading black women, based on the term "nappy headed"?


Nope. Not me. I had never heard the term either and had no idea it was a racial slur against black women.


The hos bit says women. Just the nappy headed term and I might have thought it a slur against Arabs, against whom various not dissimilar slurs are used.

But without anything else, nappy headed is clearly derogatory, even if not immediately obvious against whom. Nappy of course here means what Americans call a diaper, so not hard to spot a slur. But even if nappy were are new word, it's just got the form of a pejorative term, even if you don't know who is being insulted. One then just ignores it or looks it up, and doesn't use it, according to circumstances.
 
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As an aside re: "nappy-headed," if you have the time I highly recommend Chris Rock's documentary Good Hair, which is basically a very funny look at the effects of a culture where "white" hair is upheld as an ideal of beauty on black women whose hair is simply not genetically going to look "white" naturally.

...actually I just went looking for a trailer and it turns out the entire film is up on Youtube (if you don't mind French subtitles).
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Dearlove wrote:
Sky Knight X wrote:
she2 wrote:

Really, nappy head hos and you couldn't figure out that they were degrading black women, based on the term "nappy headed"?


Nope. Not me. I had never heard the term either and had no idea it was a racial slur against black women.


The hos bit says women. Just the nappy headed term and I might have thought it a slur against Arabs, against whom various not dissimilar slurs are used.

But without anything else, nappy headed is clearly derogatory, even if not immediately obvious against whom. Nappy of course here means what Americans call a diaper, so not hard to spot a slur. But even if nappy were are new word, it's just got the form of a pejorative term, even if you don't know who is being insulted. One then just ignores it or looks it up, and doesn't use it, according to circumstances.


Yes. I know all of this now. I knew it right after the first news story I heard on the subject. Before that, I had never heard of Imus or nappy-headed.

I'm just having trouble drumming up the kind of guilt that some think that I should have for not being informed enough to know that this racial slur existed and for not knowing what it meant.
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qzhdad wrote:

Scott's Blonde family stuff



So interestingly enough I grew up a half polish - half hillbilly blonde female, mostly in Detroit, MI and near Orlando, FL.

In my family inappropriate jokes were the thing, be they sexual, racial, cultural, religious... you name it I heard jokes about it, and even repeated them, sometime with the childish foolishness of not even understanding them but knowing they were supposed to be funny.*

Of course I heard extra polack, hillbilly, blonde and female jokes because in our family that is also what you did... picked the things we self identified with to tell/hear jokes about.

For me it ended up being an interesting dichotomy that produced an interesting result. It removed the power of all such jokes to hurt/affect me personally from a very young age. I am pleased with/proud of my heritage and enjoy my hair color and gender. I am also comfortable enough in my own skin to not really care of others judge me on such silly things that are not chosen but are things we are born with/into. It ALSO put all those other jokes about other people(s) into a very clear perspective for me... if I was smart even though I was polish, blonde AND a hillbilly... than obviously jokes were just jokes and didn't really correlate to real life or traits in real people with any genuine accuracy. So the jokes also never really skewed my view of others in any meaningful way.

But because I do know intellectually that these can be offensive, I rarely tell any questionable jokes that don't apply to something I self identify with, except when swapping jokes with somebody else with a different self identity who enjoys hearing that kind of humor about their culture/group.

____

* Ok funny story from my youth about kids repeating things/jokes they don't understand. So my father's best friend all my memorable life was a black man and our families were close. So one night our parents were playing cards and I was playing with one of his daughters back in a bedroom, and we started telling jokes. We told several back and forth. At one point I told her one I recently had heard (I think we were both about 8 years old or so) it was about this nice little Italian boy who was writing back home to his mother about this American girl he wanted to marry. The joke is long and I won't repeat it all here... but the punch line is... "Don't worry Mama, we have a deal, she won't call me a WOP and I won't call her a Coon". - We both laughed and laughed... then one of us looked at the other (I don't remember which did anymore) and asked, "So what is a Coon and why is that funny?" and we both admitted we didn't know but since adults laughed it had to be funny. Right?

Then we decided to head into the kitchen and ask our Dads to enlighten us. So picture this... little blonde pollock/hillbilly and little black girl walking arm in arm into room with group of adults including both our fathers playing cards to ask... "so Dad, what is a Coon anyway?"... the looks on their faces were priceless, and once we explained why we wanted to know and then they told us, we both looked at them with our "big people are crazy" looks and said "Coon means she is black?? Now we are really confused, so WHY is that funny???", they explained that Italians were considered white and blacks and whites usually don't get married so that was why it was funny, but that just convinced us that adults were really weird. After that we both decided we weren't going to repeat jokes we didn't understand any longer since obviously they weren't always funny and often didn't even make any sense.



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Sky Knight X wrote:
I'm just having trouble drumming up the kind of guilt that some think that I should have for not being informed enough to know that this racial slur existed and for not knowing what it meant.


I see no problem in not knowing that it, or any similar term, existed or what it meant. The only problem (which I haven't checked back in the thread to see if anyone did for this or any other case, bar the child, who is learning) is using it in ignorance. If it's an unfamiliar term, check. If it's an unfamiliar term that looks fishy, avoid like the plague.
 
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