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BS: Racial No-nos

Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 02:10 AM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 02:21 AM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 02:33 AM
The Shambles 19 Nov 05 - 02:45 AM
Cluin 19 Nov 05 - 03:16 AM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 03:26 AM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 03:34 AM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 03:40 AM
The Shambles 19 Nov 05 - 04:31 AM
Cluin 19 Nov 05 - 04:37 AM
Ebbie 19 Nov 05 - 05:04 AM
The Shambles 19 Nov 05 - 05:18 AM
The Shambles 19 Nov 05 - 05:23 AM
GUEST 19 Nov 05 - 07:30 AM
The Shambles 19 Nov 05 - 07:47 AM
Ron Davies 19 Nov 05 - 07:53 AM
Ron Davies 19 Nov 05 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,David Hannam 19 Nov 05 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,A 19 Nov 05 - 08:34 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Nov 05 - 08:37 AM
Bobert 19 Nov 05 - 09:25 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Nov 05 - 09:42 AM
paddymac 19 Nov 05 - 09:57 AM
wysiwyg 19 Nov 05 - 10:22 AM
dick greenhaus 19 Nov 05 - 10:43 AM
GUEST 19 Nov 05 - 10:49 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Nov 05 - 11:35 AM
GUEST 19 Nov 05 - 01:23 PM
Don Firth 19 Nov 05 - 02:35 PM
robomatic 19 Nov 05 - 02:57 PM
Ebbie 19 Nov 05 - 02:59 PM
Peace 19 Nov 05 - 04:39 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 19 Nov 05 - 04:56 PM
Ebbie 19 Nov 05 - 05:00 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 19 Nov 05 - 05:31 PM
Bobert 19 Nov 05 - 05:53 PM
The Shambles 19 Nov 05 - 06:24 PM
Peace 19 Nov 05 - 06:31 PM
Peace 19 Nov 05 - 06:36 PM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 06:58 PM
Sorcha 19 Nov 05 - 07:19 PM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 07:22 PM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 07:25 PM
hilda fish 19 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM
Biskit 19 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM
artbrooks 19 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 07:42 PM
Peace 19 Nov 05 - 07:58 PM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 08:02 PM
Azizi 19 Nov 05 - 08:16 PM
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Subject: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:10 AM

It's my guess that the music instructor who recently made the news because he or she included the song "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" in the school's folk music recital hadn't a clue that the lone Black student in that school's recital or anybody else [including the parents of that student] would be offended by that song.

But, as an African American, I consider the choice of that song in 2005 and in the context it was presented as a "racial no-no". As I am defining it here, a "racial no no" is something that a White person says or does that is likely to cause trouble for him or her with African Americans or other people of color and/or other people who are concerned about racial political correctness.

There is no doubt in my mind that racial correctness goes both [many] ways. However, my purpose for talking about racial no nos in this thread is to suggest that there may be things that White people say or do that can get them in trouble with African American people.

I purposely used the referent "African American" because in my opinion the referent "Black" is too wide a term. While there may be extensive overlapping, it seems to me that what African Americans may consider a racial no no may have been in the past and may still be now acceptable or a minor issue for other Black people {meaning, Black people from other nations and other cultures in other parts of the world}.

It seems to me that "context rules" when your talking about what is or is not culturally competent. And "context" includes who, what, where, when, how, and why.

What was cultural appropriate for African Americans-non-African Americans in the past may be be a racial no no now.

Of course, what we [African Americans] do & say to each other may get us into trouble with each other depending on who we are and what we do or say and how we do or say it.

But I'm more concerned in this thread with the fact that White people may honestly not have a clue that some of the things they say and do might be culturally incompetent [which is another way of saying "politically incorrect"] with regards to race.

Some people here could care less. Others may totally disagree.

But there may be some people who are curious about what is likely to be a turn off to African Americans [in other words, what tick us off, or what get us on a set].

These are my opinions. I acknowledge from the onset that there will be people who mildly or vehemently disagree with the subject of cultural competency itself or with the examples of racial no no that I cite.

Needless to say, I'm interested in reading others' comments about this topic.

****

Note: PC-where is thy sting?-Pick A Bale Of Cotton Ban is the thread that prompted this one.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:21 AM

Racial no-nos

1. the use of the N-word in most public settings
   {especially those with children} except in the context of
   higher level educational discussions & study of history and
   culture and even there, tred carefully making your purposes clear.

Outside of historical & cultural study and discussion, it seems to me, that folk songs that include the "N word" such as "Run N---g Run, the Pateroller Catch You" are toxic unless another word is substituted for the "N word" {though I admit that changing the title to "Run Children Run..." and not explaining the background of the song means that an opportunity is lost to teach about the realities of slave conditions in the American South}.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:33 AM

Racial no no

2. Use of African American slave dialect [such as that used by the
   African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar]in most public settings
   except in the context of higher level educational discussions &
   study of history and culture and even there, I would suggest that
   Whites or non-Whites tred carefully and make your purpose for
   including this creative work or folkloric material clear.


BTW, by "higher level educational discussions & study", I'm talking
about in depth discussions & studies that are more than superficial, short overviews that are engaged in by children [of average intelligence] who are 5th grade and older {I'm admittedly being arbitrary in the grade I select}.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:45 AM

I hope you will accept that what may the case in the USA will not be so anywhere else. In the UK - it is still thought marginally OK to call a any footballer a cunt or indeed any black footballer a cunt but certainly a 'racial no no) to call them a black cunt.

You would hope I you accept that the word black refers quite legitimately to a colour and that its use could also cause offence to someone. Also that any word could cause offence to someone.

For this reason - is it being proposed that we all pretend that some words have never been invented or used? Or is it better to try educate us all to true the history of these words and why they may unitentionally offend some others?

Could it be that by taking such issue with the use now of mainly the words themselves - you provide the very ammunition for those who would still chose to use them to intentionally offend and worse?

Perhaps there are worse things than the possibilty of uninentionally offending another by the careless use of a word?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Cluin
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 03:16 AM

What about use of the word White?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 03:26 AM

More on racial no no #2

The recent controversy with the inclusion of "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" in a school recital seems to have focused on two facts:

-the association of cotton picking with Black American slavery [notwithstanding the fact that some enslaved Black people never picked cotton, and nonwithstanding the fact that some White people still have memories of picking cotton]

-the song's uptempo tune seems to minimize the backbreaking work associated with picking cotton, and play into the widely grinning Stepin Fetchit pickinniny stereotype promoted by slavery apologista.

I want to speak to the second point and suggest that the "Oh Lordy!" phrase in the refrain "Oh Lordy, pick a bale of cotton/Oh Lordy! pick a bale a day" is what turns me off.

I see this as an example of Black slave dialect or old downhome expressions that-if included in songs-are liable to get contemporary Black folks riled up.

Someone on that "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" thread reminded me that African American R&B singer Little Richard had a hit song "Lordy Miss Claudy" [in the late 1950s?]. I believe another African American R&B singer Lloyd Price also recorded this song {Lordy Miss Clawdy} maybe before Little Richard did. But that was then, and this is now. After all the 1950s is more than 50 years ago.

And-in my opinion, those "Lordy! Lordy!" expressions are likely to be interpreted as being too country [with "country" rightly or wrongly being seen as less than "citified].

Songs that explore the country hick vs sophisticated city resident are a whole nother area of consideration for folklorists. But for the purpose of this thread what I'm suggesting is that it's not only songs and literature that is written in Black slavery dialect but it's also the inclusion of certain Black "downhome" expressions that can get a person in trouble.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 03:34 AM

More on the subject of African American slavery dialect-

I believe that African Americans for the most part aren't purists when it comes to singing spirituals.

Although I've seen spirituals written in real heavy duty dialect from slavery days {full of 'des' and 'dose'}, I submit that we don't sing those songs that way.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 03:40 AM

Given that it's 3:35AM and I've got to be at work at 8AM this morning, though I'd love to respond to Shambles' post, I'm gonna wait until later to do so...

{See how complicated the subject of dialect is..."I'm gonna" is fine in most informal conversation but "I'se gonna" is a no no}.


Later!

Azizi


BTW: typo correction from one of my earlier posts to this thread:
apologista=apologist


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 04:31 AM

Perhaps you could explain why it appears not to be thought a racial no no for a black person to use the word 'Nigger' and to refer to themselves and other black people as this or themselves use terms such as Bad Assed Nigger?

I appreciate your choice to use of 'the N word rather than using the word in full and I chose to use the word Nigger in this discussion not to offend you or others intentionally or otherwise. It is a word that I would not normally use in any other context but it the word you are referring to and one that still appears in many songs.

I think your intentions are probably very good but this is opening one huge can of worms. And as the thinking on and around this issue remains very confused - perhaps any attempt to impose your thinking upon other people and in different cultures is best undertaken when the general thinking behind it is less confused than at present and at a time when there is less chance of these attempts being counter-productive?

I respect your right to express your opinion of banjo music that you have expressed in the past (mainly because of its historical associations) but as a banjo player I hold a different one and will not stop playing the banjo - at the risk of offending you. Does that place me in the wrong? Will your next racial no no - be the playing of banjos?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Cluin
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 04:37 AM

"Will your next racial no no be the playing of banjos?"

That right there is called hyperbole.
It's an old weapon of master debaters and like many of those old strokes it gets in the way of intelligent discussion.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Ebbie
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:04 AM

Roger, you say "I think your intentions are probably very good but this is opening one huge can of worms. And as the thinking on and around this issue remains very confused - perhaps any attempt to impose your thinking upon other people and in different cultures is best undertaken when the general thinking behind it is less confused than at present and at a time when there is less chance of these attempts being counter-productive?"

And that strikes me as being disingenuous in the extreme. Just when do you propose will be a less "confused" time? And how is it to become less confused? We are adults here, and imo this is an excellent time to learn something. Azizi may be confrontational - indeed, I hope she is - but she is NOT hostile. Let's sit down and shut up for a bit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:18 AM

Not sure where polite disagreement can be thought hostile. Perhaps those who thought-up and enforced the idea that black people should occupy different seats on buses would not have been thought hostile by some?

In my book the attempt by one racial grouping to impose their thinking upon another - is about as hostile an act as you can get - short of actual physical combat. For it will probably lead to this evenually - if it is not addressed and changed.

Any attempt for one individual to claim to speak for any huge racial grouping is also of concern - whatever that grouping may be. For the thinking within that grouping will be very disparate.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:23 AM

As Azizi said in the first post.

Needless to say, I'm interested in reading others' comments about this topic.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:30 AM

We shouldn't re-write history, we should teach it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:47 AM

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=76375#1359216

Azizi from the above thread.
Also, since I mentioned my dislike of banjo music, as a means of showing respect to my ancestors, may I also take this opportunity to post that the banjo is an instrument that comes from Africa.

I think that listing one's personal dislikes is one thing – dressing them up as being anything other than this or as representing some form of consensus and calling them a racial no no – is perhaps something else. I also find the idea that you show any positive respect to anyone (alive or dead) by taking a negitive action like taking a dislike to any form of music - a rather worrying one.

Many fine things - other than banjos - come originally from Africa. Because they may be stolen away and badly abused does not make them (or any music they may produce) any less fine.

Words may fall out of use - and for all our sakes let us hope that some words like 'slavery' will do this quickly along with the terrible practice it describes and along with other words associated with it - but words like these will never be un-invented. And that is perhaps just as well...........


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Ron Davies
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:53 AM

Are whites allowed to quote Mark Twain if reading from one of his books?

Are you aware of some of the lyrics of Henry Clay Work-- ("Year of Jubilo", for instance)--and aware he was a very strong abolitionist?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Ron Davies
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 08:10 AM

I'm also one of those who believes a great teaching opportunity was missed by not singing Ledbelly's version of "Jump Down, Turn Around" at the concert--yes--teaching at the concert--by placing the song in context.

And anybody who feels an 11-year old is a baby is being patronizing--and has no idea how sophisticated a lot of 11-year olds are these days.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: GUEST,David Hannam
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 08:12 AM

I have said this before, man will always offend man. Being offensive is part of human nature. We are not clearly talking here about racial crime, (both ways) we are talking about 'no no's'! These no no's are a stifle on human nature.

Yes someone will call a black man a 'n*****' and wrongly so too, yes someone will abuse a white man for being white, wrongly so too, but should the increased danger of criminal prosecution be introduced to curb offensive behaviour? I'm not telling, i'm asking?

When in an argument, i call my opponent 'fat obese s***'? He in turn calls me a 'big nosed 'd**k', lol, or vice-versa, so what is the answer? Imprison either on the basis of making 'inflammatory remarks designed to offend'?

Sensitivities between the varying ethnicities are a product of liberalism, and white liberalism at that, gone mad!!! In truth, the Sikh doesn't mind whatsoever that Briton's would celebrate Christ at Christmas? But white liberals cater for a myth surrounding the minorities that they have created. A myth based in repression of the host peoples culture, and a complete lack of understanding that most people, from whatever background simply want to get on with their life, and really couldn't care less if people want to celebrate Christmas. I refer here of course to various councils banning the word 'christmas' in public celebrations!

Nursery ryhmes - Blah Blah Black Sheep? Do black people really care, i suspect they don't!


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: GUEST,A
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 08:34 AM

I guess I must be naive. The song "16 Tons" ("I loaded 16 tons of #9 coal.....") which was a direct comment on white miners never gave me cause for contemplating racial overtones.

I am white, I have personally known 11 "African-Americans" and 7 were white. Dual citizenship for all 11. I do not consider myself an "European-American". As I said,I must be somewhat naive.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 08:37 AM

It's more than context that affects the impact of words. It's the company. That's why some blacks (whoops... African Americans... none of my black friends use the term African-American, by the way) apparently use the N word amongst themselves. While I have never overheard a black person use the N word, I suspect that it may be used for humor, or attempted shock. I can't imagine anyone I know using it in my absence.

A word that still has powerful emotional impact among some blacks (but not all) is "boy." I remember vividly, standing next to a black friend of mine many years ago, and a rather arrogant white woman coming in the building and saying to him, "Boy, go and get the package out of my car." He really bristled, and I don't blame him. I was angry about it to. She could just as easily have asked me, and she certainly wouldn't have called me "boy." That's a word I try to be very, very careful not to use, because it can be very hurtful. Never mind saying that it shouldn't be hurtful. Hurt happens.

As far as situation and company, we all get a kick when my friend Frankie says, when he thinks I'm really rocking the guitar, "play that guitar, white boy!" I'm not offended because I love Frankie and I know that he loves me. And yet, I'd never say "Sing that song, black boy." That's a totally different saying which has the association of black men being considered less than men. It can summon up memories of degradation and discrimination, so as far as I'm concerned, "boy" is a MAJOR no-no.

All this said, the black community is no more homogeneous than the white community, or any community. There are some in any community who take great offense at the mildest statements, and others who are comfortable enough with themselves that they don't interpret every off-hand comment as an insult. You can see that here in Mudcat, and it usually has nothing to do with race. Some folks get all uppity if you disagree with them, and you have the choice of either trying to assure them that you meant no offense, or confronting them for being so insecure and defensive.

My rule of thumb is if it offends even one out of ten people, it's best to try to come up with some equally expressive word or phrase that isn't offensive.

I appreciate this thread, Azizi. You've said before that you don't claim to speak for the black community. Probably worth reiterating it... and also acknowledging that you are speaking about African-Americans rather than "blacks" because you are talking about a group of people with a shared heritage of slavery and prejudice in this country.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Bobert
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 09:25 AM

Noqw this thread is prolly one that I should keep the heck away from we all know that the Bobert will step into jus' 'bout any danged mess that's out there, this thread bein' one of 'um...

Ahhhh, first of all, I am somewhat guilty of havin' picked up a great deal of "slave" talk back in my 20's and into my 30's and those speech patterns an' phrases is very much part of who I am and what I sound like... Ahhhh, lets me explain... When I was like 'round 23 I went to work as a GED teacher in the Richmond (Va) City Jail.... Now, back then there weren't hardly no white folks in that Jail so fir 5 hours a day 5 days a week I was purdy much completely surrounded by black folks... Even the guards were black...

I also was workin' at a drug treatment half way house teaching GED and runnin' counselin' groups and bei8ng "Staff on Duty"... Well, Staff on Duty (SOD) was like a lot of hours... Every other weekend I would go on right after the jail gig on Friday and be there until Monday mornin' when it was back to jail... Now, the half way house waas right in the middle of one of Richmond's ghettoes and most Saturday nights I would be up 'til 3 or 4 in the mornin' talkin' with residents and strret folk... Sometimes I'd just sit on the sidewalk at the corner of 2nd and Calhoun St. while hookers 'n pimps 'n rippers & runners would be hustlin and on those nights I would have a lotta conversations with latta black folks that most white folks didn't ven know existed...

It was during them years that I learnt up (an' internalized...) a lotta dialect that some might consider "slave" talk... I learned real quick that black folks in these settings freely us3e the word "nigga" as a endearin' term when talkin' to one another and I also learned that it din't have nythin' to do with one's color because the folks I worked with would call my white butt "nigga" as freely as they would call a black friend "nigga"...

Now, I had been brought up in a "liberal" familee and leraned at an eary age that the word "nigger" was not a word that we used... Yeah, my mom was involved in the Civil Rights movement and we had a lotta contact with black folks so I just knew that phrases such as "nigger or colored" wasn't part of our vocabulary... So even when I was called "nigga" by black folks I could never bring myself to use the word back but used the word "brotha" (prolly same diffrence but...)

Now, after my stint with the drug program, I got a job as a social worker and this work kept my white butt workin' in the black areas of Richmond... At age 39 I made a career change but after some 16 years of spendin' almost all my wakin' hours among Southern black folks, I can away deeply influenced by both culture and speech...

Now, throw in my in music, bouncing 'round folk music styles and most recently, Southern country blues, I can honestly say, yeah, there's prolly way too much "slave" talk in me *but* I have never thought of the way I talk to be offensive...

...until, perhaps, now...

I'll keep an eye on this thread, however, to see if there are changes that I "sho nuff" need to make...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 09:42 AM

As for Pick A Bale Of Cotton, which I always associate with Leadbelly, the thought of Leadbelly singing it to perpetuate the image of the happy darkies living as slaves is downright hilarious. Leadbelly never struck me as someone who was trying to present a sanitized version of anything. He's the man who sang to Irene, "I'll GET you in my dreams," not I'll see you. I always thought of Pick A Bale Of Cotton, when Leadbelly sang it as more of a bragging song, just as his ridiculous When I Was A Cowboy... "come a yickee, come a yickee-i-ay." I would think that song, like Pick A Bale Of Cotton could be done with an explanation of what back-breaking work it would be to actually pick a bale of cotton. Who knows how big a bale of cotton is, or how much it weighs, or how long it would take to pick a bale of cotton? If that was explained, the whole concept of jumping down, spinning around and picking a bale of cotton would be seen for what it was... a boast. In that context, I could even see a link with rap and street bragging.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: paddymac
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 09:57 AM

I've only met one person with no nose, and that was as a small child (me, that is). I don't have a recollection of the color of the person's skin, or even their sex. I was so absorbed in them not having a nose I didn't notice much of anything else.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 10:22 AM

My experience in cross-cultural matters is that flexible intelligence, respect, relationship, and reflection are necessary for positive communication and effective cooperation (and just about anything else!). I will the information Azizi offers to the information I have gained from other voices in other times, places, and relationships, and continue to strive for positive communication and effective cooperation.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 10:43 AM

Actually, the comparison between Sixteen Tons and Pick a Bale O' Cotton is a good one--both poke a bit of fun at a back-breaking job by use of wild exaggeration of one's prowess.

And yes, there were black miners and white cotton pickers.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 10:49 AM

I wonder why I'm not surprised that football players would use such an offensive word as "cunt". Words of two syllables or more are probably too much for their limited IQ.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 11:35 AM

I thought of the comparison between Sixteen Tons and Pick A Bale Of Cotton, too, as they both seem to be an exagerated claim of strength.
The difference is that if you are doing the work because you are a black slave, rather than a very poor white abused black, at the end of the day the whites didn't have to deal with segregation and the degradation that went with being black in the South. There is an enormous difference between being owned and being free, even if the work is equally hard.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 01:23 PM

Bobert, that was a helluva' long post to simply imply that you may have racist tendencies.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:35 PM

Not contributing at this point, but reading this thread with great interest. Anonymous GUEST, I think your remark to Bobert is way off base.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: robomatic
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:57 PM

A lot of past items in life come to mind. I lived for two years in a primarilly black dorm at school. Learned a lot, mainly that black folk are like any other folk. Later on I lived in an international house where the lesson was expanded to most of the world. I think that context counts for a lot, context for me including the other people present as well as what's being talked about and conventional usage in that group. I also believe in enough honesty and courage to go up and tell someone when you've been offended, and why. Otherwise, they may not know, which in my experience is the majority of cases. As an old Chicano acquaintance put it, "if they're smiling when they say it, I smile, too. If they're not smiling when they say it, my hands may come out of my pockets."


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Ebbie
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 02:59 PM

And I agree. Guest has totally misread him.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Peace
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 04:39 PM

I have a few observations to offer and maybe a few remarks to make.

Azizi has never been hostile on this or any other thread she's posted. She is a serious researcher and seems to know lots about Black (African-American) history. Her contributions to threads above the line have been scholarly and educating, IMO. So, when one of the few 'people of colour' on the Mudcat starts a thread by saying "As I am defining it here, a "racial no no" is something that a White person says or does that is likely to cause trouble for him or her with African Americans or other people of color and/or other people who are concerned about racial political correctness", I want to sit back and have a good look.

I could tell y'all about living in south Harlem, working with many people of colour over the years, stuff I did to contribute to the civil rights movement, friends and situations that demonstrate I am not racist. However, I cannot tell you about being a Black man in North America because I am not Black. I can speak to my perception of the 'Black experience', but that would be words filtered through the thought processes of someone who has lived the 'White experience'. Azizi knows I use the words Black and White instead of other descriptors, and she's talked to me about that. She also knows you can take the boy out of the country but . . . .

In Grade 3, I went to the washroom one day and Wayne was there at the same time. Wayne was/is black. We found a quarter. ONE quarter: twenty-five cents. In a district where 'share' was not a word that had much currency (it was a verb, but its transitivity changed from moment to moment in that one could share or some other one would decide whose stuff would be shared with whom on one's behalf), we decided the only fair way to decide who kept the money was by going eeny-meeny-miney-mo. I started the little rhyme and got to, "Catch a nig...". That incident took place about fifty years ago and I can remember it today with a clarity that stuns me. I have seldom seen a look of hurt in someone's eyes that came close to the look in Wayne's. I learned at the age of seven or eight that words have incredible power to hurt. So too did Wayne.

At the age of 17 in New York City I had the pleasure--honour might be a better word--to be the warm-up act and emcee for a fellow named Len Chandler. Photo of Len taken in 1969 at a folk festival. . (A right click on the pic will show the site it's from.) Many of you will know Len or at least know of him. He wrote some fantastic songs. Anyway, he asked me who I liked as a songwriter. One of the names I tossed out was Stephen Foster. Len went up one side of me and down the other--this was in 1966. He wanted to know what I found so touching about 'Massa bein in de cole cole groun'. He later taught me his song, "To Be a Man."

I guess what I'm saying is this: The thing at the school in Berkley was ill-considered. Given a context as was noted by Azizi would have provided a raison d'etre for doing that particular song. As it was, they stepped on their cranks. And, Azizi, I recognize that I can learn what is not good to say, and maybe that is part of what sites like this are for. Good thread. Thank you for starting it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 04:56 PM

I'm with you, Peace:

I have a general problem with people who say really destructive things and then if someone is hurt, they blame the person for being too sensitive. If I say something that offends someone, I want to be told about it. Then, I want to give very serious consideration to my actions so that I may guide my tongue in the future. I too find Azizi non-confrontational and I value her presence on Mudcat. I think she is a fair woman and can accept that there are other points of view than hers... even in the black community. I know my sons, who have a great love of R & B (for example) have no trouble with Lawdy Miss Clawdy. Admittedly, it could be rewritten to be Goly Gee Miss Jennie Lee :-)

I appreciate people making me aware of things I say or do that may hurt someone.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Ebbie
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:00 PM

Peace, your experiences and the messages you internalized from them are part of what make you the special person you are.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:31 PM

For what it's worth, the exclamation "Lordy" is not exclusively an African American expression. It is a rural southern expression. I heard my white maternal grandmother (and numerous other members of her generation) use it thousands of times.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Bobert
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 05:53 PM

Ahhhh, GUEST, yeah, while not prejuding white folks I am more carefull with them than I am with black folks... I've never been screamed at, fired, sued, assaulted or ruipped off by a balck person but have experienced all those negative things from white folks...

That make me a racist? Maybe, depending on how one defines racisim...

BTW, this is a general feeling within me not a specfic feeling 'cause I'd a million times rather be in the company of Jerry Rassmussen than I would Mike Tyson...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: The Shambles
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 06:24 PM

I have no wish to offend anyone, either intentionally or otherwise but I also don't want to be made to feel guilty for little reason or to watch others posting here made to feel that they possibly have something to apolgise for. If I did intentionally wish to offend anyone - they would always be aware of this intent.

For were I - by something I may have said - unintentionally cause offence to someone who seriously considered that disliking banjo music was a duty to their ancestors - no matter how much I may respect them or their ancestors - I probably would not worry too much about causing them offence......

For I probably would consider their's to be an over-sensitive reaction and a personal problem for them to come to terms with. I may also consider that they could be guilty of milking a situation and of risking the creation of needless division on racial grounds by seeming to be approaching almost every issue from a racial aspect at the slightest excuse. Something that if done consistently by someone from a different racial grouping may no doubt lead to accusations of racism?

Are the things listed here so far as racial no nos - comming as any real surprise to anyone posting here? If they are - perhaps those people have been living a rather sheltered exsistence or are lacking in any form of common sense or imagination? For this is hardly rocket science - is it?


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Peace
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 06:31 PM

"unintentionally cause offence to someone who seriously considered that disliking banjo music was a duty to their ancestors"

You have offended me egregiously. Noon. Tomorrow. Your choice of weapons.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Peace
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 06:36 PM

"For I probably would consider their's to be an over-sensitive reaction and a personal problem for them to come to terms with. I may also consider that they could be guilty of milking a situation and of risking the creation of needless division on racial grounds by seeming to be approaching almost every issue from a racial aspect at the slightest excuse. Something that if done consistently by someone from a different racial grouping may no doubt lead to accusations of racism?"

The above statement just made me realize how asinine you truly are.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 06:58 PM

I'm just returning from work that was not as back breaking as picking cotton, but heavy duty in its own way. Before I list what I consider to be other racial no nos, I would like to comment on some of the posts thus far.

During the 1990s one African American slogan that was widely known was "It's A Black thang. You wouldn't understand." This slogan was directed to White people. It articulated the position that there were nuances of Black culture that were unknown and not understandable to White people and that was good.

I disagree with this position. My view is that "It's a Black thang. You should understand [especially if you desire to understand].

If misunderstandings occur about Black culture, and we [Black people] don't try to explain where we are coming from, then shame on us.

I want to reiterate that I believe that understanding is a multi-lane highway. There are certainly situations where Black people are guilty of misunderstanding the nuances of White culture[s]. However, for the purpose of this thread, I chose to limit my discussion to those things that White people may not understand about Black..excuse me..African American culture.

It would be easy in this thread to get caught up in the meaning and appropriateness of the racial referents "African American" and "Black" that I've used rather than focus on other points raised by this discussion. As a point of information, usually I switch from one of these terms to another. However, in my mind, "African American" is usually more formal than "Black". And yet another formal term for Black people is "people of African descent". [And yes I am referring here to people of [Black] African descent].
And 'people of color' is a term that includes Black people and refers to all those other races and ethnic groups [such as some Latinos/Latinas] who are not White.

But in the context of this thread, I wanted to make the point that I was limiting my comments to a subset of Black people-those who are African American.

I am aware that we [African Americans] are a heterogeneous people. There are Black people living in the United States who first generation are from the Caribbean, Canada, South America, Latin America, West Africa, North Africa, East Africa, South Africa, and elsewhere. There are also African Americans who have Gullah ancestry, and/or are Creole, and/or are Native American, and/or are part White, and/or are part Asian.

I am NOT speaking for all these folks. I am sharing my own views about those things that tick off African Americans given my experience as an African American who was raised in the East and never lived anywhere beyond the Allegheny mountains of Pennsylvania.

Just as I ask you not to fixate about my use of "African American" instead of the more inclusive "Black" in the context of this thread, I ask you to pardon the inconsistency of my using "White" instead of the more formal [and archiac?] European-American or the sometimes used term "Anglo-American".

Of course, if you wanna focus on terminology instead of the points others raise and I have attempted to raise in this thread, do your thing [or "thang" if you prefer].

In my earlier posts to this thread, I chose to focus on the racial no nos that had to do with music. I did so since this thread was prompted by the "Pick A Bale Of Cotton"controversy.

There are other points I want to make about racial competency and music, and will do so once I take a couple of deep breaths and get my second wind.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Sorcha
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:19 PM

And, an aside from 'black'...my full blood Apache friend strongly objects to Native American....he is an Indian.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:22 PM

Point of clarification:

This quote: "Also, since I mentioned my dislike of banjo music, as a means of showing respect to my ancestors, may I also take this opportunity to post that the banjo is an instrument that comes from Africa."

is an example of poor writing skills. It would have been better for me to have written that sentence this way:

"Since I had previously mentioned my dislike of banjo music, it behooves me to show respect to my African ancestors by sharing the information that the banjo is an instrument that originally came from Africa."


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:25 PM

BTW, Peace, I second what Ebbie wrote in her 19 Nov 05 - 05:00 PM post.

Thank you for sharing.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: hilda fish
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM

My problem overall, is that I keep on not being polite. I can't discuss academically something that ultimately, through demeaning a part of the human race for what they can't help, how they were born, gives permission to kill. Yes, murder, genocide, kill, and it is still going on in the most unacceptable of ways. They little words, the so-called non pc are the tiny bricks in the bridge across to the side that says all these BLACK folks (and many of us aren't BLACK, we are Indigenous or whatever) aren't quite up to us on the evolutionary scale, less than, and so on. There is BLACK and there is WHITE because, colonialism, slavery, and so on DID HAPPEN. As an Indigenous person (we are called BLACK!!!) in my country I could weep as I watch the effects of the little words, the little songs, the little acts, which are discussed oh so respectfully, academically, and politely, brand our babies before they are even born, steal hope from our young, condemn our young mothers and fathers to despair, and finally break the backs of the elders, and we who are a community of elders. Thankyou Azzizi for always being so polite, so respectful, intelligent and sensitive. I too love and respect the HUMANITY in us all, but I will not be polite as I watch my people dying and through the use of words, songs, etc. WHITE people give permission for it to happen. I am sick of it and I will not be respectful or polite. It is not only wrong, but unbearable in this world that we all share. "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" is a horrible song not because of how it sounds, but because of what it celebrates. How sick to look at it any other way. "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" is the song of the former Hitler Youth that still reverberates among the young fascists of today. Do we get children to sing it because it is "anthemic" and "choral" and has a significant European history. I don't think so. Why?? Because it previewed unacceptable slaughter and has come to represent it and that is not so hard for people to get their heads around. Yet talk about anything to do with what lays the foundation stones for genocide and everyone gets very academic and defensive and blah blah blah. I have looked at my people cold and dead and have held African American people as they keened with grief, I have walked with Native Americans as they numbered their dead youth, I have been in Brussels as a Sudanese woman asked "who will know the names of my children as their bones mingle with the fish in the deep sea?" Ĺnd I'm not polite. The bottom line is that people are dying because of words like these and it is a shame that a school would even have this song on their list. Think peoples, it is not the white nations of this world who are starving, it is not the white nations of this world who have unacceptable infant mortality rates, it is not the white young generations who are in prison and in despair, in totality. We are all human and we are all suffering one way or another, but it is MY young people who are dying, not my white friends, it is MY dead sons who to this day I cannot say "they are gone" without the anger, and fury that racism engenders. The thing is that people DO know. Recently someone in my country said, "but I didn't know" and the answer was, "F*** it's been on the front page of newspapers all around the globe so don't give me that sh**" Should I apologise in advance for this rave? I'll save it.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Biskit
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM

Nothing really to add,..just reading/listning with great interest. I really enjoyed your first post Bobert, I may really like you after all
as to your second post, well,... guest already showed themselves to be an asshole that reads half a post and draws whatever conclusions from that. and Peace! my goodness! how un-peace-like in your reaction to The Shambles.
Peace! Through Understanding!
~Biskit~


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: artbrooks
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:29 PM

There are many things that have been introduced into the greater American cultural process from other places and other peoples, and Africa and Africans, enslaved or otherwise, have certainly contributed their fair share. However, I think that throwing all of these things out or saying that only people of a certain racial background and skin of a particular shade of tan/brown (BTW, there are very very few people who have skin that is either "black" or "white") can use them is a bit out of line. Eliminate the banjo? This is an instrument that may owe its origins to the banza of the African slave (which probably looked more like a balalaika), but has both evolved physically and has become integral to many kinds of folk music.

Azizi mentioned use of African American slave dialect as one of the racial no-nos. What, exactly, is that? "Sho-nuf"? "Massa"? "Lawdy me"? As a light tan person of (mostly) Northern European descent, raised on military posts in the northern and western US, these are expressions that I'd associate with other light tan people of Northern European descent from the deep South. The medium and dark brown people of African and mixed European and African descent that I knew growing up mostly spoke what I'd call standard Midwestern English.

The Black Americans that I know and most respect are those who have been able to both acknowledge their own history and integrate into the larger American culture. They know the difference between someone who does not share their heritage using "their" expressions either honestly or disrespectfully. I heard a Navajo tell an Ole and Lena joke last week. Was she purposely insulting Norwegians? I don't think so.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:42 PM

Hilda Fish, I love your fire.

And I am not as cold as you may think.

Thank you for tellin it like it is.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Peace
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 07:58 PM

Biskit: Peace is a goal, not a fait accompli.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 08:02 PM

Racial no no

3.failure to recognize that-regardless of the realities that White people also picked cotton- and regardless of the fact that enslaved African Americans also worked in tobacco plantations and did other manual labor, skilled labor, and artistic work-in the United States "picking cotton" is shorthand for African American slavery.

Therefore, American folk songs about picking cotton are going to be considered songs about African American slavery.

And regardless of whether a Black person wrote or popularized these songs, in the early years of the 21st century, uptempo songs about picking cotton are going to be considered disrespectful of enslaved Black people.


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Subject: RE: BS: Racial No-nos
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Nov 05 - 08:16 PM

Racial no no

4. Playing banjo music to celebrate Black American history and
   culture would be considered offensive to many African Americans
   as we {perhaps more than White Americans} consider this
   instrument to be part of the caricature of the watermelon eating,
   pop eyed Southern widely grining slave who was happy in his
   servitude.

See this excerpt from this article:

http://www.berkshireweb.com/rogovoy/concerts/trishka.html


"Perhaps more than any other instrument, the banjo lacks respect, as much for the style of music it is typically associated with as for its peculiar sound....

That instrument was brought to these shores by African slaves, who used it to accompany their own social gatherings. The banjo made its first leap into white hands via minstrelsy, the popular, mid-19th century entertainment which first brought African culture to white audiences. By the turn of the century, American blacks were viewing the banjo as "the instrument of slavery" while in white culture it had made the transition to high society. Tuxedo-clad musicians used it to play light classical, ragtime and marches.

The banjo continued its cross-cultural journey in the hands of African-American jug-band musicians such as "Banjo Joe" Cannon at approximately the same time that Tennessee comic entertainer "Uncle Dave" Macon was popularizing string-band tunes such as "Turkey in the Straw." ...

In mid-century, bluegrass players including Earl Scruggs and Ralph Stanley codified the three-finger, "clawhammer"-style of playing which is probably most familiar to general audiences today. In the 1960s, playing with Bill Monroe's bluegrass group, banjoist Bill Keith used the instrument to play fiddle lines, while Pete Seeger was exposing the instrument to mainstream audiences during the great folk scare of that decade."


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