[Ads-l] "wyte" as perjorative spelling for "white"

Stanton McCandlish smccandlish at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 8 06:07:57 EST 2021

WELL, all that drama aside, I for one am curious when this arrived and
whether it's just another "weird Internet spelling" silliness like "teh
interwebs"; or if it's a hip-hop culture word-play with a unique meaning,
like "thicc" and "phat" and "def"; or if it's actually a leftist-discourse
neologistic usage like "woke" and "karen"; or more narrowly a BLM-specific
usage with or without a narrow implication; or some mixture of these. It
goes back to at least early 2018 in the general sense reported here.  The
*y* in it faintly reminds me of "womyn" and some other left-wing jargon,
but that could easily just be blind coincidence.  I'm skeptical of the OP's
idea that it has to do with avoiding positive cultural associations of the
word "white", or it would likely coincide with a spelling shift of "Black"
in the same material as well ("Blak"? "Blacc?") which isn't in evidence.

I see that UrbDict has a rather recent entry on it:
dating to 2020-11-14, but it's highly specific, and appears to be some kind
of personal rant, a rather unfocused proposal for a neologism, not a
description of use, and it has nearly zero feedback, pro or con, which is
weird for that site (stuff sometimes get hundreds even thousands of up or
down votes in the same amount of time).  Trying for lower-case "wyte" at
that site just redirects to the upper-case version.  Page seems to have a
single author, who has contributed no other definitions at that site.  The
material provided doesn't enlighten; it seems to just mean "White" in the
ethno-racial sense, with the author having a dim view of such people as
necessarily racist and deluded, though it's possible the writer intended to
limit the definition to White people who exhibit such tendencies. It's hard
to be certain what the intended take-away is (though that's pretty typical
of entries at that site, which is primarily a humor vehicle and a rather
insider one at that).

There's a now-obsolete word *wite/wyte* (meaning 'fine', 'fee',
'punishment', 'responsibility', 'blame', or 'obligation', and verb form 'to
blame', 'to censure', and a possibly unrelated meaning 'to watch over,
guard, or preserve'), going back to Anglo-Saxon law and surviving later in
Scots language (or dialect – not an argument I like to get into) than in
English. But that's obviously unrelated to this new Internet slang.

The tiny and sporadic Twitter hits are too context-free for much analysis.
I'm turning up little in Googling around for "wyte" after weeding out piles
and piles of false positives and looking for longer material. What I did
find suggests use by BLM activists as simply a cool new-ish and arguably
dismissive way to write "White", but the sample size is *tiny*. The term
seems very protologistic, verging on idiolect, though obviously
recognizable and reasonably likely to catch on.  Anyway, the two detailed
cases I ran into pretty quickly are below, with emphasis added. The usage
in these two pieces reminds me a bit of how far-right Republicans like to
say "Democrat Party" instead of "Democratic Party".

* First article: "Trying to hide white feminism as intersectional feminism"
(2018-04-09), by a clearly left-leaning and politically active Black writer
from the US Midwest (female, I think).  Does some other neologistic things
like write "vvhite" or "VVhite" (with two V characters), but that may be
some kind of anti-filtering tactic.  Is quite fed up with allegedly liberal
feminists who are White but who are dependent on Republican and White men
while still also claiming to be anti-racist "allies" of Black civil rights
and the BLM movement.  Excerpts:
"a story ... about a white liberal feminist [who was all anti-Trump but
then got engaged to a Republican] ...  It was another case of white
feminism trying to hide as intersectional feminism. Of course her article
garnered backlash ... WOC and even some *wyte *women were in those comments
to collect her for her foolishness ... They called her out on it all and
basically said the same thing that I felt, how dare you call yourself an
ally? In typical white feminist fashion though, what did she do? She
started to erase the comments that did not agree with her. ..."
So, it's using both "wyte" and "white", and in this case seems more
dismissive of "white", or at least "[typical] white [liberal] feminist[s]"
as self-serving, hypocritical pseudo-allies. The "wyte" person was among
those criticizing this "white" person. But then the materail starts to
treats the terms seemingly synonymously:
"this stupid article gave other *wyte *women, who are married to
Republicans, a stance to attempt to build from. They sat there continually
screaming out that they were allies and love should know no bounds, etc.
... You are the typical white feminists that ... won’t come out of your
house for a Black Lives Matter march.  *Wyte *women were part of the reason
that the current [Trump] administration is in place today. But how many of
those women voted the way they did because of their husbands or significant
others? We’re not dumb. We see you. You try to play this game and end up
failing spectacularly ... using the guise as a feminist to stop from being
reprimanded and encountering criticism ... because we all know *wyte *women
and men can’t handle that shit, especially when it comes from POC."
Writer seems to use the terms interchangeably in the end, without "wyte"
having a special meaning.  NB: In this material "white feminist" does,
though; it doesn't mean 'feminist who happens to be of European stock', but
implies at least so-called casual racism, and White-centrism: "*Quit using
the term feminist to describe you and use what you actually are; a white
feminist.*" (That part was emphasized in the original.)

* This is an interesting one – also includes "wytness" (2020-12-09): A
Black, male, Marxist, and (I think) American, going by "ISASaxonists" and
"Axel Folio", is a PhD with a considerable background in early English
history. (Same tweeter mentioned by the OP.) He has an issue with people
misusing the term "Anglo-Saxons" to mean "White people" and "Anglo" for
"White", a bigger issue with people misusing historical references to the
Angles and other populations to make blanket statements that imply things
about European-Americans, and an even bigger problem with random Internet
people either thinking they can lecture him about these things when they
have no qualifications, or thinking they're in a position to say
intelligent things about BLM because they claim to be leftist "allies", or
much less doing both at the same time.  He appears to just use "wyte" as
synonymous with "white" (or "White" if you like capitalizing these things):
"Interesting this 'British history' podcast muted a thread by a qualified
PhD whose area of expertise is exactly what this *wyte *dude [the
podcaster] argues against. He's not qualified, but thinks he's qualified
enough to discount a BIPOC expert's work. ...The thing abt being BIPOC scholars
is that wyte dudes (&women b/c his know-it-all Gramsci loving female friend
was in there) w/ no qualifications will always think they know more than
us. I am literally a PhD & the history of the term AS is one of my areas of
expertise now, but this rando from Portland not only thinks he's more
qualified, he's basing his understanding on his feelings. ... BIPOC
scholars were initially accused of basing arguments on 'feelings' by
pointing to the racist history of "Anglo-Saxon." We are armed w/
historical, literary, linguistic evidence & ppl refuse to listen & learn.
The truth is *wyte* ppl are just attached to the term. So some *wyte *ppl
just want to be right. BIPOC scholars can throw every bit of evidence at
them, publish in academic journals &write open access articles and *wyte*
ppl will continue to believe they are right when they aren't. These ppl w/
no background in medieval studies, run a podcast on British history &will
not do the 'research' b/c they're lazy & wytness works. ... Action is
essential & claiming to BIPOC you're an ally means you aren't. One of them
had the audacity to speak for Blk ppl, & then disappeared when called out.
This has been an example of *wyteness *at work. Just b/c ppl have a rose in
their bio doesn't mean they are antiracist ... Why are you speaking for
Black America? The terms are both tied to *wyte *supremacy. ... You don't
get to speak for Black ppl, undermine them, reject their scholarship and
claim you are an expert b/c you are a *wyte *man or woman."
I don't think he used "white" even one time in this material. It gives me a
minor suspicion that this may have something to do with shaving a character
off of "white" for space.
URL: https://twunroll.com/article/1336649092483719171

There is an American rock band name Wyte Guye (who are all White guys, but
no apparent connection to White nationalism or anything like that, and they
do Michael Jackson and Santana covers along with other stuff); the name
appears to be tongue-in-cheek, but the interview material was not
in-depth.  And there's WyTe DuDe, a White rapper from Tennessee, who I
guess hopes to be the next Eminem. Very typical fare about smokin' dope and
gettin' laid; didn't seem to be socio-political material at all, but I just
watched one clip on YouTube.  Video shows him hanging with White and Black
friends. He did diss Wiz Khalifa at some point, but rappers are always
talking crap about each other.  Next, I saw a California "guys for women"
personals ad on DoubleList.com, self-describing as "Attractive wyte male
thirty".  Really not a lot else.  I didn't search for "whyte", and didn't
look around all that long, or do combination searches like "wyte politics",
etc., but the two detailed hits just show it being used as a variant of
"White" by BLM activists, without a special meaning that I can discern,
unless possibly it implies "BLM-ally poseurs", but even that seems dubious.
I think it's just coincidence that the two writers were focused on that in
those two particular pieces (and I don't see any obvious connection between
the writers besides being African-American and fed up).

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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