use of "sunshine" as a racial slur against blacks

Jocelyn Limpert jocelyn.limpert at GMAIL.COM
Tue Mar 3 01:05:50 UTC 2009

I understand -- and I'm aware that the Urbandictionary and others didn't
include it, but assumed it was because it's very new usage.

I have seen it correlated with race and it definitely is so correlated on
the otherwise meaningless strings that are currently discussing it. One gets
the idea that it is used by some as a less than cordial name for a black
person, a definite racial slur. Informal, yes, but not directed at a friend
in a friendly in-group way, the way "nigger" has been used among blacks [not
that it isn't used in the opposite way both within group and out -- everyone
is aware of the complexities therein].

I gather Walter is black from the discussions I've read by this group. Does
he have any interest in such things?

On 3/2/09, Douglas G. Wilson <douglas at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: use of "sunshine" as a racial slur against blacks
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Does anyone have any information as to the origins of or current usage of
> > "sunshine" being used in speech today in a derrogatory way as a racial
> slur
> > against blacks/African-Americans?
> -
> I've never heard of anything like that. In my experience it's a
> meaningless (at least to me) very informal salutation which could be
> directed by anyone to anyone else who's on sufficiently casual terms. I
> can't remember who's used this in my hearing but I don't think it's been
> correlated with race.
> My informant who studies at the local high school has a similar
> impression: a few people occasionally use this salutation, without any
> known meaning or evident restriction.
> Cassell's slang dictionary says "a general form of address".
> Even Urbandictionary doesn't show a racial-slur meaning for "sunshine"
> -- Doug Wilson
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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