The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #47148   Message #1774112
Posted By: GUEST,thurg
02-Jul-06 - 12:24 PM
Thread Name: eena meena mackeracka (children's rhymes)
Subject: RE: eena meena mackeracka (children's rhymes)
"my mother said that N----- was a bad wrd and that we should use 'darky' kind of hard to believe now."

Hard to believe, yes - but in another thread recently, an Englishman mentioned his father using "darky" as a neutral or polite term. I don't know how widespread this (mis)understanding was, but I can say that my (Canadian) grandmother, born around 1890, used that term to the end of her days, and she lived to the age of 103 - and would be quite indignant when my mother would chide her about it. (About using the term "darky" that is, not about living to 103). As far as she was concerned, there was nothing disrespectful in her use of the term; she was satisfied that she was free of racial prejudice, and was not one to speak without thinking - but also not one to be bullied in matters of diction or anything else. I am certain that there was nothing questionable about her attitudes (or lack of attitudes) regarding race, and that if the right person had talked to her about her use of the term "darky", she would have accepted that it could be insulting nowadays, and would have stopped using it. Not that it crept into the conversation much anyway.

I wonder if the great popularity of Stephen Foster songs spread the term "darky" around the English-speaking world or if it had an international life of its own?

(Sorry for the thread drift).