man+(noun) combining form

Peter A. McGraw pmcgraw at LINFIELD.EDU
Mon Oct 3 22:32:30 UTC 2005

In my experience from Oklahoma City in the early 50s the opposition was
"man"-"colored man" (stress on "colored").  The specific conversation I
remember was with my great aunt, and we were discussing the husband of my
grandmother's (i.e., her sister's) housemaid, who was black.  The maid had
worked for my grandmother for years, and her husband was well known to the
family but never worked for them.  Everybody agreed he was a super-nice
guy, and my great aunt concluded the exchange by saying, "Yes, he's an
awfully nice colored man."  I'm sure if he'd been white, he would have been
simply "an awfully nice man," and that a black man would never have been
referred to that way.  I was from California and old enough to be aware of
the social segregation that prevailed in Oklahoma at the time, and her
remark was jarring, one of those things you never forget.

Peter Mc.

--On Monday, October 03, 2005 5:53 PM -0400 "Baker, John"
<JMB at STRADLEY.COM> wrote:

>         In south-central Kentucky in the 1960s, there was no such
> distinction.  "Colored man" and "colored woman" was simply how older
> people, black and white, would refer to an African-American man or woman
> when they wanted to be polite.  Of course, there were very few
> African-Americans (or others) employed in white households; having
> servants was more of an urban phenomenon.
> John Baker
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf
> Of James A. Landau
> Sent: Sunday, October 02, 2005 10:59 PM
> Subject: Re: man+(noun) combining form
> Here's a related example:
> My recollection is that in Louisville, Kentucky, in the 1950's and
> 1960's,
> the term "colored man" did NOT mean "an African-American male" but
> rather had
> the more specific meaning "an African-American male employed in a white
> household" or even more specifically "an African-American male employed
> in a  white
> household as a semi-skilled artisan, such as a handyman or  gardener."
> Similarly "colored woman" had the specific meaning "an  African-American
> cleaning
> woman".   However (NAACP please note)  "colored people" did indeed mean
> "African-Americans in general".

Peter A. McGraw       Linfield College        McMinnville, Oregon
******************* pmcgraw at ****************************

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