"the Negro"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 28 07:08:01 UTC 2014

From: Geoffrey Nunberg <nunberg at ISCHOOL.BERKELEY.EDU> who quoted Jonathan
Lighter, who wrote:

> [Maybe] the word is still OK for anthropologists

Probably depends upon the effort that anthropologists continue to spend
delineating the "races" of mankind. For example, terms like "American
Negro" and "true Negro" were used to differentiate the real soul-brother
from his sub-Saharan ancestors and further to differentiate among these as
Pygmies, Ethiopics, Dinka, Watusi, Zulu, Maasai, et sim. E.g., Kofi Annan
would be a "true" Negro, as any fool can plainly see: Homo sapiens niger,
but Nelson Mandela, though a Negro, would not be a "true" Negro, as any
fool can likewise plainly see. Louis Armstrong, Joe Louis, Dorothy
Dandridge, and Mariah Carey all be varieties of Homo sapiens niger
americanus or some such, as would be your humble correspondent and his
kin-folk and peops.

A variation of this game was run to separate Jews, Semites in general,
Slavs, Italics, Celtics, Alpines, Berbers, and other such trash
non-Negroids of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East from Homo sapiens
sapiens or the "true man" of England, Germany, and Scandinavia-except-the
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 - http://www.americandialect.org

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