Language

Urban legends about language-related racism.

The very language by which we communicate can be used to reinforce prejudice, either through claims that common words are racially pejorative in origin, or through tales that demean others for misusing "our" language.


White bullet An African-American woman christens her baby with an embarrassing medical term after overhearing one of the nurses use the word.

Red bullet The word 'picnic' comes from a shortening of 'pick a nigger.'*

Red bullet The use of the word 'buck' as a slang term for 'dollar' derives from a reference to black male slaves.*

Red bullet The password is "deer." Celebrity gives his black partner the clue "doe." Contestant responds by guessing "knob."*

Green bullet Congresswoman calls for hurricanes to be named for African-Americans.

Yellow bullet Mother names her child "Le-a," which she insists be pronounced "Ledasha."

* Entries marked with an asterisk will display in a separate browser window.


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