Alas, America is facing its reckoning regarding its racist roots and ideals. As such, it is essential that individuals edify themselves regarding these matters. One particular facet of this paradigm shift is through language. Many English phrases utilized on a day to day basis are inherently offensive. Here are five phrases, along with their origins, for you to consider eliminating from your next conversation.
Many linguists state that this phrase dates back to the time of slavery in America. Slaves were forced to use the term “master” when addressing their owners, who generally lived in lavish bedrooms.
Today, this term is used to describe the unwanted commentary of an audience. However, the inception of this phrase was during the early 20th century, when Vaudeville, a theatrical genre, was common. Sadly, during these performances, African-Americans were reduced to the unkempt area of the theater, dubbed the “peanut gallery.”
EENIE MEENIE MINEY MOE
Generally viewed as a harmless children’s rhyme, this phrase has dark racial undertones. Since the days of slavery, certain derogatory words have been replaced, yet the overall message remains. It is believed that this rhyme was used by slave owners to describe the capture of runaway slaves. And as time progressed, it was seen as the description of police arresting Blacks.
LONG TIME, NO SEE
This phrase was used to belittle non-native English speakers and their pronunciation of the language. Perhaps a better, racially conscious phrase is “it’s been a while.”
This phrase is used for companies or people that are able to follow the old rules even when newer ones are established. It refers to the Grandfather Clause, instituted in the aftermath of the 15th Amendment. The 15th Amendment allowed African-American men to vote, but placed arduous limits on the process, such as poll taxes and literacy tests. However, a “Grandfather Clause” was effected soon thereafter, which allowed descendants of voters to bypass the aforementioned stipulations. Essentially, this clause provided Caucasians with a way around the harsh limits placed on their African-American counterparts.
Whether people are conscious of this or not, it is time to do better. Tackling such a large-scale issue requires people to begin from the ground up, from this nation’s very foundations. Awareness is paramount.