racism of older linguists
hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Mar 8 02:34:27 UTC 2009
BTW, I wouldn't call this "racism." It's just a case of "What we have
here is a failure to communicate." It's nothing for the speaker, but
it's a knife through the psyche, for the hearers. In the Army, I had
the following very brief conversation with a fellow-Texan from Odessa:
Have you ever been to Frau Walters [Gasthaus]?
Why not? That's where all the other _black boys_ go.
This guy kept in touch with me after we got out of the Army, called me
from Austin to make sure that I was okay, during the Watts Riots (I
was, since I lived in a "better" part of town: the old "Wilshire
District"), and even had his *wife* talk to me! I was stunned!
Now, was this person a racist, based on his habit of referring to
Negro men as "black boys," back in the day when "black," alone, (I'm
not *black*! I'm colored! -Richard Pryor) was almost as insulting as
"nigger"? It depends on one's POV. A lot of other black people would
have said that I was tomming out by continuing to associate with a
white man who thought nothing of using "black boys" in his casual
conversation, back in that day. But he was from Texas, too. What could
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 2:41 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> Ron writes:
> "My experience is that linguistics is one of the least racist, least
> "homophobic, academic disciplines I know. I guess the best that can be
> said about our
> "painful experiences from those earlier days is that young people today don't
> "face those kinds of problems. This is not to say that racism and sexism and
> "homophobia is dead, but the playing field is a lot more even today,
> and I certainly
> "hope that younger linguists do not find the need to be constantly looking
> "over their shoulders to see who is going to stab them for being
> black, or queer,
> "or female, or, for that matter, white heterosexual male Red Sox fans."
> Except for the comment about Red Sox fans, I agree completely with
> Ron. I don't doubt that, from the POV of the G'town prof, he was
> merely expressing polite interest, with the hope of extending the
> conversation, given that we had aleady discussed my own Jesuit-trained
> background. But, there exist certain strings that tend to cause
> members of minority groups to "trip off the line," as we used to say
> at L.A. Water & Power. Some of them has become so stereotypical the
> both speakers and hearers beginning not to take them seriously,
> anymore, e.g., "You know, some of my best friends are [whatever]!" or
> "Do you know [internationally-famous Name]?", etc.
> Needless to say, some of *my* best friends are black, too, and I *do*
> know some internationally-famous names *in linguistics*. But, even
> today, not being one of the very few, internationally-famous black
> people, myself, I don't know any internationally-famous black people.
> Hence, that seemingly-innocent question comes across as a put-down:
> "I'm white and you're black, but, nevertheless, *I* know more famous
> black people than *you* do! You ever get high backstage with Miles?
> *I* have! Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!"
> Gnome sane?
> As for the Red Sox, I'm a fan of the Saint Louis Cardinals. Enough said.
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> On Sat, Mar 7, 2009 at 11:44 AM, Â <RonButters at aol.com> wrote:
>> My experience is that linguistics is one of the least racist, least
>> homophobic, academic disciplines I know. I guess the best that can be said about our
>> painful experiences from those earlier days is that young people today don't
>> face those kinds of problems. This is not to say that racism and sexism and
>> homophobia is dead, but the playing field is a lot more even today, and I certainly
>> hope that younger linguists do not find the need to be constantly looking
>> over their shoulders to see who is going to stab them for being black, or queer,
>> or female, or, for that matter, white heterosexual male Red Sox fans.
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