- Politics and Social Issues
Derogatory Racial and Non-Racial Slurs: Where did They Come From?
I believe they originate from bad experiences with others over time. Look, no one is born with them, nor is discrimination or hate innate or genetic. It is learned. Learned from interactions with others, watching others, having bad experiences with them numerous times. The breeding ground for such learning has been in the South, historically. But it exists across all cultures and countries and some use religion to toss into the already volatile psychology mix.
The derogatory slurs such as nigger, nigga, spick, wop, chick, honky, fag, bitch, whitey, coon are mere words that either will invoke outrage or be taken just as a word and ignored. Many call them and others, fighting words. Who created them? when?
The word, coon, recently re-entered the English language. I don't think I have ever heard it, and I thought it was a shortened version of raccoon. Why not? I don't live in the South, never have. I still don't understand its connection with blacks. Raccoons are cute animals but nasty, we have a few around. I recall my mother, who in 1943, left Canada to work in Virginia in the British Embassy. She had never seen a black person, yet found herself sitting next to on the train and heard the N-word. She told me, she had no clue what the white guy was talking about, but because the word sounded nasty, she kept quiet. I recall a similar event moving to California. The situation was similar, except I was hanging with friends, and one guy referred to "look at that spick over there". I looked, saw lots of things. I asked, what are we looking at? what is a spick? The others laughed. I was told it was that Mexican guy. I didn't understand. I asked him "why are you calling him a spick?". The boy replied, " He owes me ten dollars and he won't repay it". There was a pause, then he said, "My dad said that spicks never pay and are poor". Funny thing was, many years later, the Mexican and myself became friends. Juan is now a dentist.
That is how racial slurs and other terms are passed on from one generation to another and even the experience with a group worsens, and thus, the use of racial slurs and biases, or, the experience is good and those biases and words are tossed into the dustbin.
Certain words in the racial slur vocabulary seem to be okay to use in certain situations, for instance, if the slur is directed at a member of the same race. Blacks do it often. Even Trayvon's Twitter name was "Nigga", yet if the slur is made from anyone else but black, the word magically becomes a racial slur and fighting word. Gays have the same hypocrisy.
In the early 70's John Lennon released a single called, Woman is the Nigger of the World. With a title like that, you would have expected a huge uproar from the black community. There was nothing. Suffice to say, it was not John's best selling single, yet his lyrics rang true to all women.
Its best to avoid the use of slurs and don't pass them along to your kids.