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One word that identifies subconscious or latent racism in my opinion

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Phoebe Loosinhouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:18 PM
Original message
One word that identifies subconscious or latent racism in my opinion
I picked up on this a long, long time ago. Why is it that in any newspaper or magazine article you read about any high profile Afro American,in any field, you will almost always find somewhere the adjective "dignified" or the word "dignity"? You don't find this adjective used all that much except in the circumstance I have just described. Look up Sidney Poitier or Colin Powell or Julian Bond or Martin Luther King or Maya Angelou or Clarence Thomas or Barack Obama or anyone else you can think of that is portrayed in a positive light and I guarantee you, you will find the word "dignified" in there somewhere. As though it sets them apart from , well, those . . . undignified people.

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newswolf56 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:22 PM
Response to Original message
1. Good point. Another dead giveaway is the subtle inflection placed on...
third-person collective pronouns: they, them.
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Guaranteed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:24 PM
Response to Original message
2. I've always thought the use of "village" is typically racist, or classist,
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 07:25 PM by BullGooseLoony
but when I posted on it everyone disagreed with me.

I still think it is, though.

And, no, I'm not talking about "Greenwich Village" and whatnot. I'm not going over that again.
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Gman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. "It Takes A Village To Raise A Child"
I believe was Hillary's book's title. I believe also that it was taken from an African saying. There's lots of words in other languages that also mean "village". "Villita" in Spanish comes to mind first (and only because that's the only other language I know). They all mean a small town so there's nothing racist about it.
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Guaranteed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. Forget it.
You're not getting it (not that anyone else did), and I'm not going over this again.
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leftchick Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:24 PM
Response to Original message
3. sad but very true
excellent observation. :(
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Guaranteed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:26 PM
Response to Reply #3
7. Reminds me of Chris Rock's observation about Colin Powell...
"He's so well-spoken."
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Kali Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
4. You may be right - on the other hand
that list does include figures I would describe that way reguardless of race. I mean Maya Angelou or Sidney Portier...I haven't ever seen Julian Bond but he sounds such. Even Powel...Maybe not Thomas, especially if you worked for the guy!!! But in general jugdes tend to be dignified (or at least should be!) Obama? I haven't actually seen or heard him much - I think admirable and other positive adjectives but maybe dignified will come a bit later? Dignified to me also frequently includes age and or the wisdom and calmness associated with it. Just me rambling. Need a nap.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
5. and "well spoken" that's another dead giveaway IMO n/t
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Phoebe Loosinhouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. yup. exactly
Often goes hand in hand with dignified.
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TalkingDog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. Really, well I'm a whitey from the South and I've heard that more than you
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 07:34 PM by TalkingDog
can imagine. I even had a grad. prof. tell me he couldn't believe the big words coming out of my mouth with an accent like that.
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EST Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:26 PM
Response to Original message
6. Interesting thought.
Let me cogitate a bit.
I am not dark skinned. I do regard dark skinned authority figures or historical characters as, somehow, more dignified than their pale skinned equivalents.
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Bunny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:29 PM
Response to Original message
9. Do you think that "dignified" came into use as a way to distinguish
them from the Steppin' Fetchit or Amos & Andy stereotypes? For a long time, the only public roles a black person could have were servants or buffoons. :shrug:
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:10 PM
Response to Reply #9
18. When I think of dignity
used this way I think of a dignity born of long-suffering...of a people who maintain pride despite being belittled.

That said, I also believe the term "racism" is overused, sometimes in a hysterical way. Very few of us are able to completely discount race, class, appearance, etc. in our minds. We pretend to. Stereotypes happen because of patterns people think they see. The trick is to refuse to believe them of every member of whatever group is being stereotyped.

I once heard Jesse Jackson refer to "racial insensitivity" and I think many people who are slammed as being racists actually fit more into that category.

I'm not denying there is a small subculture that thrives on complete racism, such as the KKK, however.
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Phoebe Loosinhouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:19 PM
Response to Reply #18
21.  I was speaking about an unconscious prejudice
that revealed itself in language choices - not an overt, hysterical racism - in fact quite the opposite. That's what I find so fascinating about this choice for an adjective.
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:28 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. I see what you mean
I am personally fat. I have been described, I understand, by many as having a pretty face.

Translated: DESPITE HER GIGANTIC FAT ASS
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Phoebe Loosinhouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:11 PM
Response to Reply #9
19. I think could be a part of it. nt.


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DinahMoeHum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:34 PM
Response to Original message
12. The word "articulate" is another example, IMO.
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 07:35 PM by DinahMoeHum
n/t
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applegrove Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:35 PM
Response to Original message
14. Dignity is what a woman interviewed outside the convention centre
was discussing. Dignity is what FDR policies were about. If you talk to the generation who insisted on changes after the depression - what they would not stand for was fathers going hat in hand to back doors having to beg for food. Or mothers sending their kids away to distant family because they had no food.

Dignity means a great deal to people of that generation. Because they had it taken from them. And witnessed so many people in pain. Perhaps it was cl assist even then. Poverty existed in many places in the early 2oth century. And it was only when the middle class hit the dirt suddenly that others in the middle class said "no way".

Perhaps one of those words that is loaded.

However it implies that as a wealthy country there are things people should not have to resort to - a powerlessness that is unacceptable.

UN uses the term : http://www.metaphoria.org/ac4t0310.html

It is a word too that is often applied to all seniors. Perhaps a generational thing.

Don't know. Don't know any specific time I've heard it applied to AA unless they were aged somehow.





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dalaigh lllama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:52 PM
Response to Original message
15. Good catch
Language is a wonderfully subtle weapon, isn't it? As a woman, I tend to cringe when I read about some public female official described as a mother or grandmother as a primary descriptive? To me, the best way to catch little weirdities like this is to rewrite a piece using a different race or gender -- if it sounds odd, there's some latent discrimination the writer may not even be aware of. Example: "Mr. Jones, the father of two preschoolers, is the new city administrator." (While it is indeed admirable that Mr. Jones has been able to father two children, it really has nothing to do with his job qualifications, does it?)

Also, I have a bit of a problem with 2008 prez candidates presented as follows: "Who do you support: Clark, Dean, Kerry, Feingold, Gore, Hillary." (NOTE: not an inclusive list, I know.) I realize many would argue that they say Hillary so everyone knows they don't mean her husband, but it bothers me when all the guys have last names and she doesn't.

Now, I'm not rabid about any of this -- I just find it interesting to note the ways that language subtly affects and reflects certain mindsets.
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Telly Savalas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 07:57 PM
Response to Original message
16. You're being opinionated.
While I agree with what you wrote, I'm not opinionated because I'm male.
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catnhatnh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:04 PM
Response to Original message
17. OK...my underwear are fairly flameproof...
...the counterpoint to this is references to whites that tend to identify them with an underclass.These are more subtle,but perhaps not as recognized as classism as references to black people because of the earlier reference to skin color, they pass unopposed..many stories find it neccesary to point out the protagonist lived in "a trailer park" or worked in a "Piggly Wigly" or in other code words were "white trash"...Is racism disgusting-Yep, bet your ass, but classism is just as evil and growing-look for the "positive" stories of poor whites rising "above their births"....Just as "dignified blacks" mean we don't apply certain expletives to "them" stories of white failures tied to 4-5 hot points (Walmart/Trailer Parks/High School Drop-out)are just indications that the media recognize a difference between their base and those they perceive as lesser...I have not mentioned the term, but it is ******s and white ******s...
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:17 PM
Response to Original message
20. As we note the dangers of cliches that are back-handed "compliments"
with an unfortunate (unintended?) flip-side that reveals the inference you suggest....

the same word can be used appropriately. I am sure I used it, as I expressed my outrage at the despicable crime of inhumanity perpetrated on New Orleaners, because I saw it.
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bread_and_roses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 08:23 PM
Response to Original message
22. Good catch. For me, it's any use of the term "race card."
Yours is a more subtle cue than mine, and I admire your perceptiveness. It's not that the word dignified is never used to describe White public figures, it is that you have observed it to be frequently used to describe African Americans in contexts where "dignity" is more often taken for granted - and thus not mentioned - such as a Minister or Judge.

I can never read the phrase "race card" without shaking my head in wonder that despite the overwhelming evidence of persistent and horrifically destructive Institutionalized Racism in education, health care, criminal justice, employment, etc. etc. etc. any single example of it will inevitably be dismissed as "playing the race card."
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