Date: Sat, 22 Oct 1994 10:34:50 CST
From: salikoko mufwene mufw[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MIDWAY.UCHICAGO.EDU
Subject: Re: offending idiot
In Message Thu, 20 Oct 1994 08:56:23 -0700,
Roger Vanderveen rvander[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ichips.intel.com writes:
Sorry, Chuck, you just offended someone there by saying "Oriental!"
One of the ridiculous aspects of "supposed racism", is that you are called a
racist if you "don't keep" with the currently accepted term, or if you are not
a member of the group you refer to.
The example already given was niggers, oops, sorry, I mean negroes, no, wait a
minute, coloreds, no, that's not right either, umm, Afro-Americans, oops, that
was 60s, it's, uhh, blacks, yeah, no! it's become African Americans, yeah, you
people, calling yourselves niggers!
I am afraid you have trivialized the offense in Chuck's note. As well
stated in David Muschell's reply, the offense derives in part from Chuck's
grandparents naming their dog a racial/racist epithet. Once posted on the
dam, not everybody new "Nigger" was used for a dog. Besides at the time the
dog was named "Nigger," this term was not an accepted designation for Blacks
or African Americans. Do you recall any time in the history of the USA when
"Nigger" was an acceptable term for African Americans? I do not know that
African Americans would be offended today if you described them as "black"
(with or without a cap). While we might find it amusing that names for a
particular ethnic group keep changing (and I take no offense at this), the
particular incident at issue here is not so amusing (except perhaps in the
privacy of our homes). I doubt that the reason the sign was removed had to
do with being politically correct. There is more to the act than some may
want to recognize.
By the way, I was careful in telling Chuck "let the rest of us tell you
what we think of your remarks" not "of you" (i.e., Chuck). What I thought
was primarily that the remarks were insensitive, that he was careless in
posting something that was bound to be interpreted diversely and perhaps
differently from what he intended, that some of us may think he is racist.
Chuck has been wise enough to apologize. I, among the people who were
offended, accept the apology. But I find your trivialization of the issue
Salikoko S. Mufwene
University of Chicago
Dept. of Linguistics
1010 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uchicago.edu
312-702-8531; fax: 312-702-9861