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Pretend Ignorance

The new excuse I've been seeing around the blogtopia from bloggers of (I guess, I can't see into your monitors) non-color is "I didn't know 'nappy-headed' was a slur."

Oh negro, please.

I guess these people don't come from the south, or from the city, or are under the age of thirty, or were otherwise raised in a bell jar. I thought it was common knowledge that anything black people chose to call themselves ("niggah," "yo' ole' nappy-headed fool," "bitch ho," etc.) as a "term of affection" -- or at least in mere joking around -- was still verbum non grata (or however you say it) when it came to white people. This has been the way ever since at least 1969, when we were taught to chant, in the experimental school I went to for second grade, "Black is Beautiful!" Anything having to do with the physical appearance of black people that was anything other than carefully worded approval was banned. And words like "negro" and "colored" were stricken from the Acceptable Use dictionary. With all the fawning over cheesy pop-culture of the sixties and seventies that is so fashionable now, and that in fact permeates Hollywood, are you trying to tell me that you don't know this?

Comments (3)

Annalucia [TypeKey Profile Page]:

So, when's the NAACP going to change its name?

Sigivald [TypeKey Profile Page]:

Well, I wouldn't have thought it a slur (though I would have thought it likely to be treated as one, even though it appears simply descriptive).

Of course, I'm not from the South, I'm barely over 30, and the cities I've lived in (Salt Lake and Portland) have respectively (at the time, for Salt Lake, less so now) almost no black people and almost no black people where I lived, so you're probably dead on, eh?

I understand that the delicate nuances of white and black language that has developed in the South is not much understood elsewhere. A good primer, believe it or not, is Gone With The Wind. (The book, not the movie.)

Just so you know, the word "nappy" isn't itself insulting. Nor is saying "she has nappy hair" -- though a more preferred neutral term is "kinky," or these days, "natural." (Oddly enough, "frizzy" implies "out of control hair" for both white and black women.) But "nappy-headed" has connotations or railery and familiarity, and thus should be avoided by careful speakers.

Understand, I am not talking about "politically correct" speech, but "polite" speech. There is a difference. When people were polite to each other due to unwritten but understood social mores, there was no need for "political correctness." Now that people are barbarians, laws are being put on the books.

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Don't worry, he's just chopping broccoli.


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