Professor John H. McWhorter, linguist and author of such books as LOSING THE RACE and WINNING THE RACE, both books discussing the issue of Black victimology, stated in THE NEW REPUBLIC that "tar baby" is not "actually a racial epithet" but is of a "descriptive, folkloric" origin? Now, really, come on now! What UNIVERSE is the professor living in?
The term's original meaning is different from what it is typically used today;
"The Tar-Baby is a fictional character in the second of the Uncle Remus stories published in 1881; it is a doll made of tar and turpentine used to entrap Br'er Rabbit. The more that Br'er Rabbit fights the Tar-Baby, the more entangled he becomes. In modern usage, "tar baby" refers to any "sticky situation" that is only aggravated by additional contact....Although the term's provenance rests in African folklore (i.e., the gum doll Anansi created to trap Mmoatia, the dwarf), some Americans consider "tar baby" to be a pejorative term for African Americans....The New Republic argued that people are "unaware that some consider it to have a second meaning as a slur" and it "is an obscure slur, not even known to be so by a substantial proportion of the population." It continued that, "those who feel that tar baby's status as a slur is patently obvious are judging from the fact that it sounds like a racial slur". In other countries, the phrase continues to refer to problems worsened by intervention." Wikipedia
But you are probably correct. It seems to be used in a racial tone with equal intentions which is wrong and unjustified and does not belong in our society..................
From Wikipedia, which matches my own memory from decades ago:
"The Tar-Baby is a fictional character in the second of the Uncle Remus stories published in 1881; it is a doll made of tar and turpentine used to entrap Br'er Rabbit. The more that Br'er Rabbit fights the Tar-Baby, the more entangled he becomes. In modern usage, "tar baby" refers to any "sticky situation" that is only aggravated by additional contact."
This is absolutely, 100%, of "descriptive, folkloric" origin and has nothing to do with race or racial epithet.
The term may have come to be racist or an epithet in later years to some people but the origin was not, just as McWhorter says. It is similar, perhaps, to the term "Sambo" which (as far as I know) originated as the name of a fictional African child but which became a derogatory term over the years.
One must always be careful in taking offense to such things as the words often mean different things to different people. Quite often the listener takes offense when none was being offered - even to the point that the speaker may be trying to be respectful and use proper terminology but the listener still takes great offense. Not everyone can or does keep up with the ever changing PC terms.
*edit* And I see that Luis beat me to the quote. Oh well.
The meanings and the meanings being them of words change all the time. I'm sure every single person who has used the term "tar baby" is well versed in the literature that brought it into being and meant it metaphorically as an economic term. Riiiiight...
I don't remember any of this being discussed during the term of all the other presidents...
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an African American president made it worse or better in your opinion?
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