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matcom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:44 PM
Original message
'Tar Baby' Remark Mars First Day On Job
:eyes:

<snip>

It took Verl Emrick, hired last week as new executive director of the New Orleans City Planning Commission, less than a day on the job to get himself into plenty of hot water.

During an introductory meeting Monday morning with members of the commission's staff, Emrick angered several of them with a comment they found racially insensitive.

Describing his desire to plunge into the job, he said that "I've got to grab the tar baby by the ears and jump right in," people who were at the meeting said.

At least three members of the citizens commission that oversees the staff's work and that voted 7-0 last week to hire Emrick were present at the meeting.

http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/neworleans/index.ssf?/base...
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GOPisEvil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
1. Now THERE'S a genius at work.
:eyes:
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sniffa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:48 PM
Response to Original message
2. idiot
is there some other meaning for 'tarbaby'?
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ET Awful Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Well, there's the traditional southern fables of Brer Rabbit. . .
which involved a tarbaby made out of tar and is the origin for the term.
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Westegg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 02:14 PM
Response to Reply #3
18. Uncle Remus, written by a white man.
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supernova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Recorded is more accurate
Joel Chandler Harris was interested in recording the UR tales that were part of the A-A oral tradition at the time. He didn't make them up. But he only saw their value as simple folklore and not as the morality tales they really are.

From www.uncleremus.com

READERS of Harris' Uncle Remus folk tales might be tempted to assume, as we were early in our research for this project, that the author had some kind of secret racial egalitarian agenda. Many of the stories he relates through Remus are clearly subversive of American apartheid's hierarchies. They spring from a tradition with roots in Africa, and also in Northern and Eastern Europe - the animal tale, with moral lessons about escape from submission and the value of cunning. In the hands of black Southerners in the nineteenth century, such stories clearly addressed their submissive situation. However, the tales must have had a second role as pure entertainment: if the stories were seen as basically subversive by their black tellers, would they have dared relate them to their white masters or bosses? One would doubt it, especially in the tense racial atmosphere of the 1880s and '90s.

Harris's understanding of his task is shaped by the latter definition; he sees the recording of Southern blacks' "poetic imagination" and "quaint and homely humor" as entertainment for whites and as a valuable anthropology of sorts, the preservation of a fading, picturesque voice. What Harris, a man who despite his anthropological efforts subscribed to most of his culture's white-superiority beliefs, failed to see is that the tales he recorded for posterity undermined the very culture he worked to stimulate.

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Westegg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 02:32 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. Thanks. You're right, of course. Apology for the innacuracy.
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Fenris Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Yes
A situation or problem from which it is virtually impossible to disentangle oneself.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=tar%20baby
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carolinayellowdog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
5. some other meaning than what?
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 12:52 PM by carolinayellowdog
I've never heard it used racially, but only WRT situations that once you start trying to handle, you get stuck. That was the story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby.

Reminds me of the DC official who got fired for using the word `niggardly.'
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ET Awful Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:14 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Yup, it's the overly PC people that object to terms like this that. . .
made it so Disney will never again release the classic movie "Song of the South."
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sniffa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. i think that's a good thing
you may have noticed that the word "niggardLy" has dropped out of the Lexicon... aLthough i confess to onLy hearing a person use it once, and he was severeLy reprimanded for it.
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ET Awful Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:24 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. The word "niggardly" has no relation to the "N" word. . .
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 01:31 PM by ET Awful
they have a different history and diffent roots. In fact, the word niggardly preddates the "N" word by a century or two.

"The Barnhard Dictionary of Etymology traces the origins of "niggardly" to the 1300s and the words nig and nigon, meaning miser, in Middle English. It also notes possible earlier origins in languages including Old Icelandic, Old English and Middle High German. There is no mention of any racial connotation."

The movie "Song of the South" is not in the least offensive, the most anyone can argue is that it used stereotypes of black people, but considering that the movie takes place immediately after the Civil War, I don't see that as an issue. You don't see people clamoring to have Gone With the Wind removed from circulation and it shares many of the same stereotypes.

The entire story of Song of the South was based on collected tales of Joel Chandler who collected them from freed slaves who originated the tales to begin with. Removing a movie about those stories from circulation is like saying that Jason and the Argonauts should no longer be available because it displays stereotypes about Greeks.
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sniffa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. fair enough
i understand the background niggardLy, but it stiLL doesn't seem to moLLify some peopLe when they hear it.

i've never seen song of the south (maybe as a kid and just don't remember) but i was picturing the overtLy racist (bLackface cartoons)cartoons that used to be on when i was a kid. most of those (tom & jerry comes to mind) aren't shown anymore, but TNT (or spike tv now) shows some once in a whiLe.
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ET Awful Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:49 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. Did you ever see the Disney cartoons with Brer Rabbit,
Brer Fox, etc.? Those are originally from Song of the South.

The movie had no "black face" it had great cartoons that had nothing like blackface at all. The controversy arose from the live action portions of the movie which was a story about a rich white family and their troubled little boy who befriended an old black man who told him all kinds of old stories and fables about animals that could talk adn so forth. The complaints arose because the movie had the gall to show the old ex-slave and other freed slaves as being happy with their current position in life instead of hating the white people.

It was purely PC nonsense that resulted in it's being shelved.
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sniffa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:51 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. thank you
for enLightening me. :D
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yellowcanine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #9
19. Actually, "Gone With the Wind" showings have been protested at theaters
because of the racial stereotypes. That may be one reason why (other than that it is as old as dirt) the movie is rarely shown at theaters.
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. Most people don't use it...
because they never heard of it. It fell out of favor years ago, and many people hearing it now would naturally assume it was something else. It would be nice if they checked before blowing their stacks, though.

It's from the ancient Norse "niggard" which means lazy person.
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Richardo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 02:06 PM
Response to Reply #7
17. My brother (an HR person) once got reprimanded for saying:
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 02:07 PM by Richardo
"It's a jungle out there."

Just meaning that the call center he was referring to was a stressful, fast paced environment.

Some of the African Americans considered it a racist comment, apparently unaware of the benign origin of the phrase. :shrug: I know my brother, and the comment was made in complete innocence of any racial overtones.
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DrWeird Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 12:50 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. It's kind of like "spearchucker".
Yes, there is another meaning. But you better be damned careful how you use it.
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dfong63 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
10. political correctness run amok
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TreasonousBastard Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 01:40 PM
Response to Original message
13. So, will the commissioners...
end up looking like the assholes they seem to be, or will Emrick get canned for wanting to try solve an unsovable problem?

But saying it in the "wrong" way?

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supernova Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 02:04 PM
Response to Original message
16. There's a lot going on here
Edited on Wed Apr-07-04 02:05 PM by supernova
There's more to this tar-baby than meets the eye:

1) We got a guy (apparently white) using the expression "tar-baby." 'Kay... I'll give him the benefit of the doubt because he worked previously in Asheville and for The Eastern Band of Cherokee. One hopes with that history he is at least aware of diversity.

BTW, the Uncle Remus tales all have the subtextual meaning of coping with slavery, subjugation, and getting by when you are not a full citzen. Song of the South doesn't convey this meaning well enough in the eyes of some.

2) We have a city council that seems adversarial. He succeeded Collette Creppell, the agency's director since early 2001, who resigned under pressure in September. Yolanda Rodriguez, the commission's deputy director under Creppell, served as interim executive director since September.

So since early 2001, they've gone through two planning commission EDs.

One insensitive blockhead + overreaching city council = he needs a new job.

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Robb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-07-04 02:42 PM
Response to Original message
22. Everything else aside...
...what the hell do you jump into after grabbing a tar baby? And by the ears?

I think this guy's nuttier than a sow's ear in a poke. Which is worth five in the bush. :eyes:
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