New racist etymology

Nathaniel Sharpe nts at BETHLEHEMBOOKS.COM
Fri Mar 15 16:49:42 UTC 2013

While looking at early examples of "buck negro" I came across this
blatantly-racist article from 1866 that uses the term "Africk-American."

Date: Friday, April 20, 1866  Paper: Richmond Examiner (Richmond, VA)
Volume: I  Issue: 102  Page: 3

[begin excerpt]
Miss Griffith had eloped with a buck negro, who was employed by her father.
The Civil Rights bill will give the maiden her buck nigger, despite all
the efforts of her parent to the contrary. The only thing she has to
fear is the constancy of her gay Lothario. If her darling
Africk-American citizen remains true during the weary hours of his
imprisonment, she will have him...
[end excerpt]

On 3/14/2013 11:36 PM, Jocelyn Limpert wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jocelyn Limpert <jocelyn.limpert at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: New racist etymology
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> For some time now publications like The New York Times and the Washington
> Post have been on the fence about using "African American" or "black"
> editorially. Articles just switch back and forth between the two, settling
> on neither. And there is also a preference for the nonhyphenated "African
> American," the reason being that other such designations, such as "Japanese
> American," are not hyphenated.
> On Fri, Mar 15, 2013 at 12:30 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:
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>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
>> Subject:      Re: New racist etymology
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------=
> ------
>> On Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 10:56 PM, Jonathan Lighter
>> <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
>>> I guar-on-tee you that "buck Negro" is a "literary" confection.
>>> I never heard "buck (nigger)" in NY, but I've read them many, many time=
> s
>> in
>>> stories about the South and, to a lesser degree, West.
>>> There's an old sea shanty verse from the 19th C. that goes,
>>> Who's been here since I been gone?
>>> Big buck nigger with his sea boots on.
>>> When sung nowadays by (99 44/100 % white) harmonizin' folkies, it's
>> altered
>>> to the culturally-insipid-but-not-offending-anybody "Arkansas farmer wi=
> th
>>> his sea boots on."
>> I think, as also in the case of Huckleberry Finn and such very
>> enjoyable writings, the un-Bowdlerized original is the way to go. The
>> truth leads to more breakthroughs than the lie. One of the reasons
>> that I consider =C4frican-American"as a replacement for "black" is that
>> I *clearly* remember when the absolute, very worst thing that you
>> could do to a black American was to call him "black."Sure, on a
>> drive-by insulting, you could upset a any colored fellow by shouting
>> "Nigger!", if you really wanted to tear the the heart right out of his
>> bosom, then the way to go was to call him simply "Black!" My first
>> letter-to-the-editor was motivated by the common practice of using
>> "African *blacks*" and not "African *Negroes*." What a gratuitous,
>> entirely uncalled-for, unnecessary, embarrassing "racist" insult!!
>> That _black_ is no longer regarded as the most degrading, humiliating
>> epithet that anyone, regardless of his own race, creed, color, sexual
>> orientation, or previous condition of servitude can apply to a person
>> of any degree of sub-Saharan ancestry and has become simply another
>> word, as innocuous as "white" as a racial denominator, is no less than
>> a there-is-really-no-possible-way-to-characterize-it, phenomenal
>> sea-change in the psychology of Black America.
>> That _black_ is now being rendered "insulting" all over again by the
>> loud mouths of random "African-American" assholes and their p.c.
>> running dogs for the sheer assholery of it and "Negro" and "colored"
>> are deemed even more insulting than "darky"and "coon," as though the
>> history of the use of _black_ were empty of content and despite the
>> emergence of large number of *genuine* Americans of immediate African
>> ancestry into all aspects of American life - cf. e.g. the lical law
>> firm of Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo - well, what can I say?
>> EBONY and Jet went from "Negro" to "Black" - because "Negro" has a
>> capital? - and from "white" to "White" - because "Black" has a
>> capital? - but, as the oldsters retire, more and more
>> "African-American" is beginning to creep into their pages.
>> Sigh!
>> --
>> -Wilson
>> -----
>> 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
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