SE slang: _shade_ "a black person"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 22 04:48:55 UTC 2013

Blues Fell This Morning: Meaning in the Blues - Page 73
Paul Oliver - 1990 - Preview - More editions
Contemptuous terms that have long been used to identify dark-skinned
persons - ... "_shade_," ...

I don't know what Oliver says in the 1950 ed. or in any other ed. But,
in the StL of my youth, there was nothing contemptuous about this term
or about its opposite, _fade_. It was just slang and, by
folk-etymology, it was assumed to reference the fact that colored
people / Negroes come in a variety of shades of black, without any
suggestion whatsoever that the "shade" referred to was necessarily
someone who was, perhaps, "two shades blacker than a Bell telephone."
OTOH, the skin-color of white people had obviously "faded."

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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