"Jigaboo Man" (1911)

James A. Landau JJJRLandau at NETSCAPE.COM
Tue Mar 27 23:09:28 UTC 2007

No, "Jigaboo" is not a nonsense word.

Wikipedia has an article on "ethnic slurs" at

"Jigaboo, jiggabo, jijjiboo, zigabo, jig, jigg, jiggy, jigga
  (U.S. & UK) a black person (JB) with stereotypical black features (dark skin, wide nose,

This entry is footnoted:
John A. Simpson, Oxford Dictionary Of Modern Slang ISBN 0198610521
John A. Simpson, Oxford English Dictionary Additions Series ISBN 0198612990

I wouldn’t count on the accuracy of the article (even if they do quote Simpson).  For example

  (U.S. and English) Chinese person, used in old American west when discrmination against
  Chinese was common.[32]. Possibly coined by early Chinese Americans from a translation of
  "Jung Gwo Ren" which is literally "China" and "man".

I found “Chinaman” in a 1667 paper published by the Royal Society (bibliographic data on request)

Here’s an interesting entry from the Wikipedia article:

“ Golliwogg
  (UK Commonwealth) a dark-skinned person, after Florence Kate Upton's children's book

There exists a musical composition by Claude Debussy (according to one Web site, composed in 1908) entitled “The Golliwog’s Cake Walk”.  The story I heard, from my music teacher (who was black) and his wife (who was white) was that Debussy, on a visit to the US, saw an actual cakewalk, performed by a group of blacks, and was inspired to write music for this activity.  But he wanted to avoid ethnic stereotyping, so he invented the word “Golliwog”.  Or so I was told.



French composer Claude Debussy was so entranced by his young daughter’s Golliwogg books and doll (thought to have been introduced into the household by an English nanny), that one movement of his Children’s Corner Suite is entitled “The Golliwog’s Cakewalk.” First published in 1908, the Suite had on its cover Debussy’s own drawing of Upton’s Golliwog.

Upton, by the way, was the first to create a black children’s hero, The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg predated Helen Bannerman’s 1898 Little Black Sambo by three years, although the “Sambo” figure itself goes back much further.

          - Jim Landau

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