Words to avoid when dealing with a certain demographic

Paul K. writes:

I’ve lost track of the number of rules we’ve created to ensure the safety of whites when coping with diversity, but another one occurs to me based on a story I just heard from a friend. He was checking in at an airport, and as a frequent flier he was assigned a porter to help him with his luggage. The black porter was very personable, making pleasant small talk, and as they parted company my friend said, “Thanks, amigo!”

The porter stiffened and demanded, “Did you just say, ‘Thanks, Negro’?”

“No, I said,’Thanks, amigo,’” responded my friend, walking away and shaking his head in bewilderment. (Can you imagine a white person saying “Thanks, Negro” to a black man in this day and age?)

This reminded me of the member of the Washington mayor’s staff who had to resign his post after using the word “niggardly” in a meeting, or the county commissioner in Texas who claimed the term “black hole” is racist.

A suitable rule to prevent such awkward situations might be, “In the presence of blacks, do not use any word or term with which they might be unfamiliar, as it is quite likely they will jump to the conclusion it is racist. This applies to words from foreign languages such as “amigo” (sounds like “Negro”); words familiar only to well-read people, such as “niggardly”; or terms and expressions that employ the adjective “black,” such as “black hole” or “black sheep of the family,” as blacks will infer a racist meaning.

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Terry Morris writes:

I can’t share the story this comment relates to, but I have it on good authority that it is unacceptable to both blacks and whites (assembled together in the same auditorium) for a white speaker to tell a story which involves a vision of a human silhouette standing in the distance which the speaker describes as “a dark figure.”

I’m not sure whether the average black knows what silhouette means, and the word doesn’t have any racist connotion that we could think of. However, I can see how a white could get into trouble explaining the meaning of silhouette to a black.

September 29

Mary writes:

When I was a college student, I had a job as a research assistant that involved listening to taped interviews with married couples and coding their responses. One interview was with a black couple. In talking about their honeymoon, they noted that they had drunk quite a lot one evening and had fun despite the racist bartender. The interviewer asked them to explain what had happened, and they explained that he made them a drink called a Black Russian. They were sure this was a racist epithet, not the real name of a drink. They apparently hadn’t said anything to the bartender about his egregious racism, but what if they had? How would he ever have been able to explain that a Black Russian is just a White Russian without the cream, and a White Russian is called that because it contains vodka (a Russian liquor) and references a particular group during the Russian Revolution?

LA replies:

That’s a great story. Along with Paul K.’s anecdote and the famous “niggardly” and “black hole” incidents, it shows how the standards of acceptable speech in this country are set by people who not only are professional victims, but are very, very stupid.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 28, 2012 01:21 PM | Send

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