Date: Fri, 10 Nov 1995 14:30:23 -0500
From: Al Futrell awfutr01[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]HOMER.LOUISVILLE.EDU
Subject: Re: Political Blunder
On Fri, 10 Nov 1995, Suzanne Legault: English wrote:
I'm curious: Could the Senator really have misunderstood the caller?
The caller said, "I ain't near rich as you." The Senator
angrily replied, "I ain't nigger rich either."
The only way I can imagine a "legitimate" mis-hearing (as opposed to some very
swift back-pedaling) is for both speakers to be r-less. Even then I have to
wonder, since you say that the Senator is not a native son, but hails from
No, no. The Senator is a native Kentuckian and the guy calling in
sounded like a native Kentuckian. When I heard the caller I also thought
he has said "nigger-rich," but I think it had more to do with "noise" on
the line than with a peculiar linguisitc twitch.
As I have heard the term used it refers to the racist notion that when
black (and they need not be from Africa) people get a paycheck they have
lots of money but they quickly spend it. Thus to be "nigger-rich" is to
have an infusion of money. The implication is that now that one has
money he/she will quit working until more money is needed. The idea is
that blacks can never have a lot of money because as soon as they get any
they quit working until they run out.
Now, with this understanding, I must say that the Ford-caller conversation
makes little sense from Ford's end. He claims to have been just repeating
what the caller said to him, but the two men were talking about taxes.
The caller was making the point that more taxes were a burden on him
because he is not as rich as Senator Ford. If I were Ford's PR man I
would be saying that all this makes sense. The caller could not pay more
taxes because he hasn't gotten any great infusion of money. However, I
think the way the term so naturally flowed from Ford's mouth that it is
clearly a normal element of the Senator's vocabulary, which is why I think
there was so much fuss about his usage.
-- awfutr01[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]homer.louisville.edu
Dept of Communication -- University of Louisville