After Discovery, State Quietly Moves to Purge N-word From Official Documents

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sun Jul 31 00:32:59 UTC 2011

On Sat, Jul 30, 2011 at 7:27 AM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
> Consider the plight of the poor yap who has to refer to these places
> publicly. Unless he or she is a complete boor, I should think that would be
> a creepy experience.

What "poor yap"? Why would a poor yap suddenly need to start referring
to these names publicly, now, when no yap has had to refer to them
publicly, heretofore? Perhaps, when it does become necessary to do
that, Dave Chappelle or some random rapper could be cozened into
taking on that job. Shit, I'd be willing to do it myself, for merely
the minimum wage, four-hour minimum guaranteed.

> "N-Word Road" or "N-Word Town" would be no improvement.

Indeed. Such substitutions are simply silly.

> I don't suppose many people would go for "Negro Road," either. (Not that
> they should. "Germantown" Pa. is OK, but how about *"Jew Road"?)

"Colored Road" is, perhaps, a way of skirting the issue. "Nig Lane" in
Lufkin, TX, AFAIK, still has its original name. There's "Germantown,"
IL, an exurb of Saint Louis, birthplace of MLB Hall-of-Famer, Albert
"Red" Schoendienst of the Cardinals. And Dago Hill in StL, Laurence
"Yogi" Berra's old 'hood. "Jew's harp"? (Some folks call it a "juice
harp.") "Wandering Jew," the houseplant? The surname, "Jewett"?
"Jewel"? "Jujubes"? "Juba dance"? "Juba to Jive"?

> My feeling is that "Nigger Road" would have been less offensive _to all concerned_ when it was named in, say, 1825_, than it does today.

In 1825, naming would hardly have been a concern of the black
population. IMO, no one _concerned_ would in fact have found anything
the least offensive in such names, just as I've never had a problem
with white people calling the Italian part of StL - a 'hood verboten
to the colored, in any case - "_Dago_ Hill."

> But we need to change it today because it seems to reflect a revolting attitude of 1825. Which we know still exists, or else we  > wouldn't think we needed to change it, because it's more revolting today than it was in 1825. By 1825 standards, I mean.

As you properly note, that attitude indeed still exists, even among
people who would find it not at all disturbing, if their daughter or
their sister married one. Making a psychological exception, when such
is made necessary by circumstances, is hardly a problem. F'rinstance,
during the course of a "rap session" on race at UNC Chapel Hill, a
white - like there was any other kind - classmate also from UCD
stated, categorically and without the least hesitation, that she
didn't know any black people and, therefore had nothing useful to
contribute to the discussion. Despite the fact that I was standing
right there and she certainly knew me, given that we two were enjoying
a close, personal personal relationship about which she was not in the
least discreet.


But my problem is that erasing such names from the quite effectively
whitewashes - no pun intended - the fact that racism is Americanism
and always has been, both in the present and in history, having
nothing whatsoever to do with "competition" for admission to Berkeley
or for jobs above the level of "porter-work," as employment pushing
the ignorant-stick was known in StL BE.

FWIW, I've examined the possibility that the word might properly be
"ignorance-stick." But this is a possibility only for speakers of sE.
Thee StL BE pronunciation is ['Ign@(r@)nt,stIk]. "Ignorance-stick"
would yield [Ign at r~@s,stIk], wherein _~_ signals nasalization of shwa
(I use this spelling because I choose to and not because I'm unaware
of the usual _schwa_.)

I don't know the race of the people involved in this whitewash of the
past. But, if only black people were involved, this wouldn't be a
surprise to me. I've long been accustomed to hearing black people
argue that _nigger_ is cool and is in no way an insult specifically
directed at black people, because no necessary connection exists
between _nigger_ and _Negro_ or whatever name is or was hip at one
time or another. An episode of the animated version of The Boondocks
contains a beautiful mockery of this "argument" accomplished by
putting it into the mouth of a *white* character voiced by Samuel L.

That there should be black people working diligently to ensure that
white people will not be embarrassed by documentary evidence of the
history of white racism in the United States, presenting as the
motivation for their foolishness the claim that such documentary
evidence is, in fact, an embarrassment to *black* people, instead,
comes as no surprise to me.

"There are a lot of processed minds covered by natural heads."

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

The American Dialect Society -

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