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Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc

Azizi 30 May 08 - 02:12 AM
Azizi 30 May 08 - 02:09 AM
Azizi 30 May 08 - 01:53 AM
Rowan 30 May 08 - 01:01 AM
Jack Campin 29 May 08 - 06:38 PM
Azizi 29 May 08 - 01:47 PM
Mr Happy 29 May 08 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Jorrox 29 May 08 - 05:13 AM
Mr Happy 29 May 08 - 04:46 AM
Mr Happy 29 May 08 - 04:15 AM
Gervase 29 May 08 - 03:19 AM
Uncle Phil 28 May 08 - 09:55 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 09:46 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 07:32 PM
Franz S. 28 May 08 - 06:25 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 06:00 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 05:57 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 05:30 PM
PoppaGator 28 May 08 - 05:26 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 12:44 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 12:41 PM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 12:30 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 08 - 11:33 AM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 11:02 AM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 10:59 AM
Franz S. 28 May 08 - 10:35 AM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 10:31 AM
Uncle Phil 28 May 08 - 09:00 AM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 07:49 AM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 07:12 AM
Azizi 28 May 08 - 06:26 AM
Tangledwood 28 May 08 - 05:56 AM
Celtaddict 28 May 08 - 01:41 AM
Franz S. 28 May 08 - 12:50 AM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 10:03 PM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 09:55 PM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 09:49 PM
Charley Noble 27 May 08 - 08:49 PM
Jack Campin 27 May 08 - 08:00 PM
robomatic 27 May 08 - 07:47 PM
artbrooks 27 May 08 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Joseph de Culver City 27 May 08 - 06:44 PM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 06:29 PM
paula t 27 May 08 - 05:25 PM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 04:53 PM
PoppaGator 27 May 08 - 12:08 PM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 10:58 AM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 10:44 AM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 10:30 AM
Azizi 27 May 08 - 10:28 AM
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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 30 May 08 - 02:12 AM

Subject: RE: BS: Responses To Racism
From: hilda fish - PM
Date: 20 Feb 06 - 01:00 AM

I just can't see that there is a problem saying THAT IS OFFENSIVE - THAT IS RACIST - IT DEMEANS ME - IT DEMEANS YOU - IT DEMEANS WHAT IS HUMAN IN US ALL. IT IS NOT RIGHT. IT IS NOT SOMETHING I'M PREPARED TO LET GO BY UNCHALLENGED. IT IS CRUEL, DANGEROUS AND MURDEROUS AND IF I WAS IN YOUR FACE YOU'D CERTAINLY FEEL HOW I FEEL ABOUT WHAT YOU ARE DOING. GET THIS INTO YOUR HEAD - RACISM IS AN INSULT. I AM CALLING YOU A RACIST. GO AWAY!!!!! To name it and attack it is a good start I think. A story - I was once at a pub with a friend. It was a social meeting between a big group of people of like mind. Various people were getting up to talk about things. It was all pretty progressive and 'good'. Then this guy got up and in response to an article in a newspaper stated that Aboriginal people were more aligned with animals than human - that white people were superior and it was time that Indigenous (Blak) people got the picture. And so on. Everyone listened politely while I started steaming. Oh dear I thought, waiting for my 'friends' to rip him to shreds one way or another. They didn't. There was a lot of polite discussion about how what he said was unacceptable. Un...f...acceptable! I was dying there by what he said and I was dying there because no-one (here you are Azizi) was watching my back. Here we go again I thought. I have to stand up and name this crap and condemn it because no-one else is gonna. They don't even see it. Or they believe in 'freedom of speech', 'politeness'. I thought for a minute and realised no-one was going to listen so I launched myself out of my chair and gave him a mighty smack in the mouth. Everyone grabbed me but I did get a good kick in.    I was hauled out of the pub and banned. Well. I was shaking and in a shocking way but I felt good - not belittled or victimised - but good. Now those who know me know that I am pretty mouthy sometimes but not violent. The worst I mostly do is getting into a swearing frenzy and walk away but truly, mostly I am polite, ladylike, blah blah blah. Some Koories in the front bar came out and sat with me. We sat together and then various people including my friends came out and condemned me at first for being 'violent'. We talked and basically I said they were gutless for not naming and challenging it - they said they had left that to me. Why me? They saw it too. Why always us to deal with this stuff? Everyone knows about the lynchings and the shootings and all the terrible stuff that is given permission through racist words and racist deeds. Sometimes I am beyond words as my people are sometimes so beyond words that all we can do is scream, go mad, and yes, smack someone in the mouth. The guy said he'd never speak like that again in front of me if that is the result. What did I care what the racist creep thought. He hadn't cared about me or my blood. All I can say is name it, challenge it, reject it in all its forms. Its not a polite discussion you know. Good phrase Azizi - "need to know and see is that somebody's got our back". I'd like to rely on that as one human being to another. Life has shown that I can't - yet. And yeah, come to Sydney Azizi and stay with me or Freda. You can see how Australia practises its racism!! There are many forms (just joking heh heh). Oh, the first time I heard "Strange Fruit" was in Melbourne at a folk club such a long time ago. Everyone thought it was a terrific song - I was the only Aboriginal there and I cried and cried and cried once I got what it was about. Everyone thought I was drunk!! How awful and sad is that song? What can I say? Rest in peace all my brothers and sisters on this planet who no longer walk the earth because someone did not like your skin. I honor your short lives and your suffering and will not forgive so easily and well not let racism have a healthy life wherever I meet it. Rest in peace. That's the bottom line isn't it?

thread.cfm?threadid=88950 "Responses To Racism".

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 30 May 08 - 02:09 AM

Subject: RE: BS: My Prejudices
From: Azizi - PM
Date: 18 Jan 06 - 08:02 AM

Prior to my going to junior high school {age 12 or so}, I didn't know any White people except those who taught in the elementary school that I went to. But I thought that I knew White people through books, and magazines, and newspapers, and movies, and television.

I thought that White people were the center of the universe.
I thought that White people were better than any people who were not White, especially Black people. I thought White people were smarter than Black people. Thank goodness, I attened an interracial school 'cause when I found out that I made better grades than a lot of my White peers, the assumption of White superiority that I had been socialized to believe, began to crack. And slowly but surely that assumption of White superiority came tumblin down.

It took me longer to reject the assumption that the only standard of beauty is White, but slowly but surely I also rejected that emotionally and mentally and spiritually poisonous assumption.

At one time, I assumed that all White people felt that they {as individuals and as a race}were better than any person of color. But as a result of direct experiences, and as a result of indirect experiences {such as Mudcat}, I now know that that it that assumption is also not true. I now know that all White people so not feel this way. But it is certainly true that some White people feel this way.

At one time, I didn't think that any Black person believed that he or she as an individual was better than any White person or that the Black race were better than the White race. I know that that there are some Black people who believe that then and believe it now, but I never did and I still don't. I recognize that a belief in Black {or Asian or Native American etc} superiority is just as wrong as a belief in White superiority.   

I maintain that in order to be emotionally, mentally, and spiritually healthy, an individual must have postitive self-esteem and positive group esteem. I now have both.

I still recognize the power that institutional racism has to injure and kill positive self-esteem and positive group esteem.

I still realize that there is much work to be done.


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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 30 May 08 - 01:53 AM

Rowan, your comment, and many other comments to this thread, based as they are on others' experiences, fascinate me and make me sad at the same time.

Sometimes I don't even want to think about race and then I go bringing it up here on Mudcat. I suppose people are saying "There she goes again.". But I'm learning a lot from reading this thread, and I believe that others are also learning about the insidiousness of race and skin color preferences not just in the USA, but elsewhere around the world.

Rowan, your 30 May 08 - 01:01 AM post, reminds me that I haven't "seen" Hilda Fish around Mudcat lately. I hope all is well with her, and pray that she'll return to Mudcat when the Spirit moves her to do so.

Hilda wrote a number of powerful comments on another Mudcat thread that I started about race: thread.cfm?threadid=88950 "Responses To Racism". That 2006 discussion was the most emotionally difficult one I have had on Mudcat to date, the second most difficult one being the aforementioned 2008 thread "Mudcat is Difficult For People Of Color".
But with a lot of help from my online friends, each time I perservered and learned and grew [in spirit, and, hopefully, in truth]. And I'm still here to testify how I got over [as they say in downhome Black churches whether they are really downhome-meaning in the Southern region of the USA or not].

I feel this thread needs some of Hilda's voice. I believe that my sister Hilda Fish won't mind me reposting a comment she made on that "Response to Racism" thread. But first, I'll repost a comment I wrote on another Mudcat thread as I believe that post serves as a preface & companion piece to Hilda's comment.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Rowan
Date: 30 May 08 - 01:01 AM

Great thread, Azizi.

There are various aspects I got jogged about but many are so far back in the thread that I can't give proper attributions so I hope I don't misinterpret anyone.

While I had had some general understanding of the term "Creole" (dating from my reading of American literature in my youth) I found PoppaGator's (?) detailed desription of origins and current application fascinating. My first "formal" encounter with the term, however, was in a discussion of linguistics centred on Creole as a language in Hawaii, where Polynesians, English-speakers, Japanese and (I think) Phillipinos had all contributed to a language type now known as a Creole. In my own patch, a similar process has occurred in the Top End of Oz, especially in the Northern Territory, where Aboriginal peoples may be required to speak up to 10 languages to effectively communicate with everyone they encounter; English is well down in the list. To deal with this, a Creole language has developed and one of its characteristics is the utter simplification of the spelling of its written form; "Creole" is thus rendered as "Kriol".

But Azizi's main interest for this thread has been the topic of African American group referents.

Like some others, I have used the term Afro American (as I learned it) and Azizi kindly and firmly set me straight and I can now see from the thread the hows and whys of the changes in detail. I suspect some of the references above to "Tom" are a pejorative as in "Uncle Tom" and I once heard an interesting discussion of how the term had changed from a generally positive descriptor since Harriet Beecher Stowe's book was published. Australian Aborigines have a similar pejorative (that I've mentioned in another thread) to describe an Aboriginal who is "more white" in their attitude than the accusers regard as "acceptable"; "coconut" is aimed at someone regarded as "brown on the outside but white on the inside".

There are still many "white" Australians who, without naming it as the "one drop theory" apply it in practice. I used to have a copy of "Wybalenna", distributed by Ronin Films. Wybalenna translates as "Black men's' houses" and is the name of an Aboriginal settlement on Flinders Island in Bass Strait; in the midnineteenth century, the whites did a line-abreast search across Tasmania's mainland and all the Tasmanian Aborigines were rounded up and shipped to Wybalenna, where they gradually died. Sealers had already kidnapped many Tasmanian Aboriginal women and settled on Cape Barrren Island, just off Flinders Island so Tasmanian Aborigines have always refused to accept whitefella notions of them having "died out", even though there had been genocide.

In the film, descendants of the Aboriginal wives of the sealers described how they were discriminated against by "white" settlers in the 50s and 60s; the term "quadroon" wasn't used but "half caste" was. The same women described how, in the 80s when minimal money was made available for some aspects of support for Aborigines who'd been actively discriminated against, the same whites sought to deny these women's Aboriginality; this denial of Aboriginality was reiterated in interviews with the whites themselves.

The film involved an archaeological investigation trying to locate the buildings of the settlement and the graves of the Aborigines. Although the parts of the cemetery where whites were buried was enclosed and marked, the settlement and the Aboriginal part of the cemetery had been regarded as grazing for sheep and cattle. An ancestor of one of the whites interviewd was universally known (except in the recorded interview) as "Resurrection Bob" from his habit of robbing the Aboriginal graves and selling the skeletons to museums. Having located the buildings and the graves, the local Aborigines erected a small plaque in the Aboriginal part of the cemetery as part of a celebration; a week later it was desecrated. The same desecration happened in Townsville to Eddie Mabo's memorial.

So, while "black" might not be commonly used in Oz, there are places where the attitudes persist.

And the references in the thread to "Latino" and "Hispanic" makes me wonder about how the members of those communities in the US deal with the self-referential issues that have been discussed in the thread, as for African Americans. I have heard it said of the groups in Brazil that there are "chocolates" ('black'-skinned people with predominantly African ancestry), "coffees" (lighter-skinned people with predominantly Amerindian ancestry) and "creams"; presumably people who'd describe their ancestry as predominantly (or even exclusively?) 'European'.

Cheers, Rowan

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 May 08 - 06:38 PM

I don't think the distinction betyween UK and England matters a lot here. Rather, the racial makeup of Britain varies a *lot*, with a few cities like London and Liverpool being very heterogeneous, and others like Norwich and Inverness being at the opposite extreme, and most of the more rural areas being mostly white.

This village (just south of Edinburgh) is typically atypical. It's about 100 years old, built around an enormous deep coalmine. Miners were brought from other parts of Scotland, Northumberland, Ireland, Poland, Russia and Lithuania. The largest minority language until the mine closed around 1980 was Lithuanian. But there is one family of African descent who have been here since the village was built. I talk to the two sisters my age quite often but it's never occurred to me to ask if they want any particular ethnic or national label applied to themselves.

One nasty little teenage thug a couple of streets away called *me* a nigger when I interfered with a bit of vandalism he was engaged in. It's the one and only time I've ever heard the word used as a direct insult in the UK. It's hard to say if the little toerag had too much or too little imagination.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 29 May 08 - 01:47 PM

Uncle Phil, I understand yur decision to spell that "n" word. The fact taht some young people {and some middle aged and older people} use that word in a way that they don't consider derogatory, doesn't mean it's not still derogatory.


Gervase and Mr. Happy, thanks for sharing such interesting information about the use of racial references and different attitudes about skin color in the UK {and/or in England}. I like reading anecdotal experiences. I just wish that these real life stories would have shown that people realized that skin colors are descriptors that should have no positive or negative value. I think such a goal is preferable than the goal of being color blind.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Mr Happy
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:20 AM

Coo! I'm really harping on here!

During another episode in my long & variegated employment history when i was a telephone lineman ['for the county' but not a 'Rhinestone Cowboy!].

A new apprentice was assigned to me for on the job training.

He was a pleasant youth in his mid 20쳌fs; whose name was Cliff Hall [sound familiar??]

Turned out he was in fact the eldest son of Cliff Hall of the Spinners Folk Group in Liverpool!

Young Cliff seemed pleased that I was a folkie & had seen his dad in concerts etc many times.

He told me his mum was white & dad was black but being from the Caribbean was of mixed black/white ancestry.

He쳌fd 3 siblings all dark skinned except for his little sister who was white with blonde hair & blue eyes!

Young Cliff said he쳌fd joined the Royal Navy after leaving school at 16 & had travelled many parts of the world.

He said the only place he쳌fd been where he쳌fd experienced racial discrimination was in South Africa during the apartheid days.

Along with his white shipmates, he쳌fd gone ashore to samples the highlights of Cape Town, but even though he was a British sailor in uniform was forced by the SA authorities to sit at the back of the bus into town and was refused entry with his pals into many bars, or could only enter into the black or 쳌ecoloured쳌f area.

His shipmates hadn쳌ft experienced racism before either & boycotted establishments like these in protest & support of Cliff their good friend.

Finding from me that my wife was Japanese, he mentioned that in S. Africa at that time, Chinese were classed as 쳌eblack or coloured쳌f; Japanese were classed as 쳌ewhite쳌f!

Probably because Toyota & other Japanese companies were bringing new investment & employment into the country, so apartheid got 쳌ebent 쳌e to accommodate them.

Cliffie said he was very relieved when his ship sailed, as he쳌fd been very upset with his treatment & the way the apartheid system operated against the interests of all the people.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: GUEST,Jorrox
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:13 AM

Gervase - are you maybe confusing the term 'UK' with the term 'England'.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Mr Happy
Date: 29 May 08 - 04:46 AM

Just re-reading some posts above, I'm reminded of when I worked in Liverpool's Mental Health services.

One've the 'drop-in' day resources where I was an activities co-ordinator had clients which generally reflected a x section of the neighbourhoods population, again in L8 Toxteth:

On my 1st day there, one쳌fve the clients, a 쳌fmixed race, black쳌f lady brought me a coffee & explained to me the workings of the centre & where I might slot in to help.

During the course of our chat she gleaned that as I was from Chester [where all the snobs live!!], I possibly wouldn쳌ft know much about the ethnic diversity of this part쳌fve Liverpool.

She gave examples of the several different waves of immigration to the area, both of the voluntary and forced kinds [slaves].

She said her own ancestry was of the oldest population of black people there, being descended both from slaves in Britain & also from the black sailors of the whaling fleets & other merchant ships, as Liverpool historically was one쳌fve the major ports for slaves.

Over the next weeks she쳌fd often join me to chat & would give further info about the anomalies which she recalled from her childhood in the 1950쳌fs when the 1st waves of immigrants from the Caribbean began to settle in the area, & subsequent settlers from elsewhere [all of African origin] & the sometimes friction & rivalries which could sometimes flare up between these groups

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Mr Happy
Date: 29 May 08 - 04:15 AM


I쳌fve followed the gist of your discourse with interest & the comments of yours & the other respondents jogged my memory of my experiences with this topic.

As you쳌fll recall, I쳌fm a 쳌ewhite쳌f ?? Brit living in Chester UK, where the indigenous population are at a guess 99% 쳌ecaucasian쳌f.

So in my immediate neighbourhood & city, though you쳌fll occasionally see a 쳌fblack쳌f [incl. Asian, Arab etc] & a sprinkling of 쳌fMongol쳌f race people [incl. Chinese, Japanese, Philipino etc], it쳌fs almost unheard of for anyone to use derogatory terms as you쳌fve described above.

Instead, its much more common to hear terms which describe someone쳌fs nationality, rather than an estimation of the percentage of melanin in their hide!

On the other side of the coin, I쳌fve worked in the bigger cities of northwest England, where the concentrations of 쳌fnon-Caucasian peoples are greater.

In these areas [Liverpool, Manchester etc] especially in the inner city, it was much more common to hear terms such as 쳌eblack쳌f, 쳌enigger쳌f, 쳌echink쳌f, & so on.

Even relatively recently, I was working for the Probation Service in Merseyside, mostly in Liverpool 8 [Toxteth] with offenders, both male & female.

Many of these people would refer to each other by those offensive labels you described; yet it seemed to me it was done in a friendly, matey way rather than to cause hurt.

When I first went out to work there, I was very surprised to hear these terminologies being used, especially among same race groups as a referent to themselves.

A lot of the younger ones mostly boys late teens to mid 20쳌fs would use the 쳌eN쳌f word frequently among themselves.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Gervase
Date: 29 May 08 - 03:19 AM

In the UK it was commonplace up until the Seventies to refer to any Black person as West Indian, the assumption being that their background was Caribbean. Today, on the diversity surveys that come with every job interview or official survey, the distinction is made between Afro-Caribbean and Black African - but Black African would encompass anyone from Mogadishu to Durban, regardless of real ethnic or cultural background.

The perceived higher status of lighter skin colours was certainly prevalent in Trinidadian, Jamaican and Barbadan communities in London. My mother was a teacher in North London through the Sixties and Seventies, and some 90 per cent of the kids in her school were from an Afro-Caribbean background (the other 10 per cent were Orthodox Jewish!). There girls with light skin tone were certainly seen as more attractive by their peers, with the Jamaican term 'high yella' used to describe them.
(Oddly, Jamaicans were seen as lower-status by those from other parts of the Caribbean, with the Trinidadian parents particularly blaming Jamaican youngsters for any bad behaviour. Naturally, therefore, the more rebellious kids wanted to be Jamaican rude boys, even if they had no connection with the island!)
Girls with lighter skins were also nearly always the ones most likely to use hair-straightening gloop, and there was often an unhealthy interest in skin-bleaching creams, despite blood-curdling tales of horrible burns and scarring caused by some of the home-made and back-street concoctions.
For the boys, however, skin tone didn't seem to be an issue, with little distinction being made between a huge range of tones, while any young guy going in for hair-straightening would have been laughed off the playground!
As for the phrase 'half-caste', it was certainly in common use by White people up until the late Seventies, but was perceived as derogatory by Black people at least before the end of the Sixties. Today in the UK the general term is 'mixed race', although some mixed-race youngsters are asserting their Black identity more, particularly those into hip-hop and other MOBO genres.
And, as Jack Campin says, there is a distinction made between Black and Asian in the UK - though Asian tends to be a catch-all definition encompassing anyone from India to Korea.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 28 May 08 - 09:55 PM

When I wrote my post this morning I spelled "that N word" with asterisks. I changed my mind and spelled it out before I sent the post. It occurred to me that if someone typed "that N word" into a search engine I'd like them to have a chance to find this thread instead of a hate-filled diatribe elsewhere.
- Phil

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 09:46 PM

For what it's worth, I just read this comment on a political blog about the upcoming June 2008 Democratic primary in Puerto Rico:

"...For those who feel that because PR has many mixed race persons the vote will go to Obama, I hate to tell you the truth but this is a very racist, blatantly racist place, and amongst politicians in PR there are very very few even mildly African faces. I've lived here full time for the last 29 years and am fluent in the language, so I know a few things. In the last US Census over 80% of Puerto Ricans claimed to be white. This is the old one drop story. In the US, with one drop of African blood you are black, in PR, with one drop of white blood {even if that might be imaginary} you can claim whiteness. And that's the reality, the census shows that".
-RC, on May 28th, 2008 at 1:57 pm


I decided to check with my friend Google to see what he [she? it?] said about this comment. Here's a quote from :

"According to the 2000 U.S. Census there were almost four million inhabitants[in Puerto Rico]. Eighty percent of Puerto Ricans described themselves as "white"; 8% as "black"; 12% as "mulatto" and 0.4% as "American Indian or Alaska Native".[59][60] (The U.S. Census does not consider Hispanic a race, and asks if a person considers himself Hispanic in a separate question.)

A 2002 study of Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 800 Puerto Ricans found that 61.1% had Amerindian maternal mtDNA, 26.4% African, and 12.5% Caucasian.[61] Conversely, patrilineal input showed that 70% of all Puerto Rican males have inherited Y chromosome DNA from a male European ancestor, 20% from a male African ancestor, and fewer than 10% from a male Amerindian ancestor. This suggests that the largest components of the Puerto Rican genetic pool are European/Caucasian, Amerindian, and African, in descending order."


And here's an excerpt of an article about racial identity in Puerto Rico:

Latin America and the Caribbean Unite Against Racism
"I spent much of my life in Puerto Rico, a Latin country in the Caribbean, where race was a far second to Puerto Rican identity. You were Puerto Rican first. Your color came second. And it is common to see, within one family, individuals of all shades, from Black to Red to White.

In the U.S., it's the reverse. The mixed family is the anomaly. People sometimes stare as if these families were on display at some circus freak show. And who's considered American is also based on skin color. For example, the term "All-American girl/boy" is seldom used to refer to non-Whites. Yes, it's different here. Many Americans don't even seem to realize that "Latinas" cover a broad spectrum of skin shades and complex racial backgrounds. Every Puerto Rican woman, we think, looks like Jennifer Lopez. Every Puerto Rican male, well, like Marc Anthony.

In this country, where you're either Black or you're White, period, it's hard for most Americans (both Black and White) to imagine a worldview where ethnicity transcends race, where mixtures are acknowledged and accepted. But that's precisely what exists in some Latin and Caribbean countries.

Don't get me wrong. Even countries like Puerto Rico have their issues. For example, it's still better to look like Kelly Ripa than it is to look like Whoopi Goldberg (sorry Whoopi). But Puerto Ricans, and other such countries, know their history. We know that we are a people and a culture born out of the blending of European, African and Native Indian races and cultures. Without this blending, our culture would not exist.

We are reluctant to acknowledge this here in the U.S.

And while other Latin countries may not reflect the same mix of races and cultures, most do represent some mixture of various European, Native, and sometimes Asian cultures as well.

It makes sense then, that a recent Latin American and Caribbean Coalition of Cities against Racism, Discrimination and Xenophobia should come into existence at this important time in our globe's history"...

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 07:32 PM

"Biracial" as a referent for people who are racially mixed. I began hearing this term in the early 1980s, usually from transracial adoptive parents [meaning White couples or White single people who adopted children who are non-White, including children of mixed White/non-White ancestry].

The term "biracial" appears to be mostly used for those children who had one Black birth parent and one birth parent who is not Black. The sense that I got from many of the transracial parents who I met as an adoptive parent and as a person who was active in state, regional, and national adoption circles [from the late 1970s to the mid 1990s] was that these White parents did not want their children to be considered Black. I believe that some of these White parents who adopted Black {children with two Black birth parents} and/or racially mixed children* [children with one Black birth parent and one non-Black birth parent] didn't seem to me to have worked through their own issues of race and racism. My sense was that some of these parents wanted a three part racial system in the USA of Black, Biracial, and White. Some of these parents talked a great deal about being color blind, and indicated that the only race their children were members of was the human race. Others talked about letting their children decide what race they would belong to when they got older.

* "racially mixed" here used in sociological terms, since most Black Americans are racially mixed, but not necessarily first generation racially mixed

In my presentations at adoption conferences, I discussed the importance of group identity as an integral part of self-esteem. I also led what I considered to be reality based discussions about the difficulties their children of color, and their White children as siblings of these children were likely to have in this race conscious and racist world. Furthermore, I led discussions on how realistic it was to expect a person to be color blind, and to self-determine their racial identity, given the world we live in at this time.

At some of those conferences I attended panel discussions of transracially adopted teenagers and young adults. The panelist were usually either Asian females or racially mixed females. Some of these teens and young adults appeared to have a strong sense of self and a strong sense of their racial identity. Others did not.
I recall one such panel that included a darkish brown skinned teenage girl with straightened hair {meaning chemically processed, not naturally straight}. There was no doubt that anyone looking at her would have assumed that she was Black. When someone asked her what was her racial identity, she said that her mother was Italian and her father was Black and that some days she wakes up and decides she will be White and other days she wakes up and decides she will be Black. I felt bad for her since there is no way in this day and age-let alone almost twenty years ago- that she would have been accepted as a member of the White race.

While I believe that people of mixed racial ancestry should be able to choose which race they belong to, and should be able to belong to both of their birthparents' races, the reality is that this is not yet possible in this race conscious, racist world.

I very strongly believe that people not only need to have a strong, positive sense of self, but people also need to have a strong positive, consistent sense of their racial group. I believed then [when I was working in adoption] and still believe now that perhaps the persons who might have the most difficulty developing a strong group identity, are those who are of "ambiguous ethnicity"-meaning those persons whose physical appearance is such that using visual clues such as skin color, hair texture, and facial features, other people are can't readily determine which racial group or ethnic group those people "belong to".

In my opinion, parents who have adopted children, birth children, or foster children who have ambiguous ethnicity need to be very proactive in helping their children develop and reinforce a consistent sense of racial/ethnic identity. And those parents need to help those children develop a positive sense about the racial/ethnic group they are likely to be "mistaken" for. Furthermore, people who adopt transracially should as much as possible help their children "connect" with families and other children who belong to that child's racial group. Yes, I know, in racially isolated areas, that is easier said than done. I guess when all else fails, there's always prayer.

And I am not being facetious with that statement.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Franz S.
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:25 PM

It seems obvious that people can be biracial or even multiracial. In fact, by PoopGator's rule that "people's racial identity really has as much to do with community and culture as it does with genetics", I am biracial. But when I was young 50 years ago "biracial" would have been a silly term if applied to an individual. There were biracial committees and commissions, but "biracial" in those days clearly meant "composed of people of both races". The thought that someone could be both Black and White just wasn't possible. Laws in different states varied, from "one drop" to one-eighth or one sixteenth, but in practice if one had any Black ancestry one was either clearly Negro or "passing".

So when did it become possible for an individual to be biracial? Did it start with Tiger Woods? Johnny Mathis wasn't "biracial". I know that people my daughter's age (about 30) have no problem with the idea or reality of a biracial individual. When did that change occur?

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:00 PM

Sorry for mispelling your name PoppaGator.

Also, since I don't make mistakes that often-ha! ha!-let me also correct this sentence:

"Also, in reading that article, I found out that I was mistaken regarding how long "African American" has been the preferred formal referent for Black Americans."

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:57 PM

Thanks for that interesting post Poppagatpr. Also, thanks for the information about what RSA means.

One small point I would make however, is that while the majority of Africans who were enslaved in the USA were from West Africa, there were also some enslaved Africans in the USA who were from Central Africa. indicates that "Africans came from a vast geographic region, the West African coastline stretching from Senegal to Angola and in some cases from the south east coast such as Mozambique".

Btw, in my opinion, that very well sourced Wikipedia page has a good summary of the use of Black as a referent in a number of countries, including the USA and South Africa. The author [or authors] of that page also provide information about the one drop of black blood custom in the USA.

Also, in reading that article, I found out that was mistaken regarding how long "African American" has been the preferred formal referent for Black Americans. The author/s of that article date it from 1988, though it was probably used before Rev. Jesse Jackson promoted its use.

"In 1988 Jesse Jackson urged Americans to use the term African American because the term has a historical cultural base. Since then African American and black have essentially a coequal status. There is still much controversy over which term is more appropriate. Some strongly reject the term African American in preference for black citing that they have little connection with Africa. Others believe the term black is inaccurate because African Americans have a variety of skin tones. Surveys show that when interacting with each other African Americans prefer the term black, as it is associated with intimacy and familiarity. The term "African American" is preferred for public and formal use."

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:30 PM

Readers of this thread may be interested in this review of the 2006 book Race in Another America: The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil written by University of California, Los Angeles sociologist Edward E. Telles. This review of that book was written by Tanya Hernandez is professor of law and justice at Rutgers University Law School-Newark.

Here's an excerpt of that review:

..."Like the United States, Brazil is a racially diverse nation with a significant number of African descendants, stemming from the country's history of slavery. Yet Brazil's involvement in the African slave trade was even longer and more intense than that of the United States. As a result, Brazil has more African-descended citizens than any nation in the world except Nigeria. After emancipation, Brazil's racial divisions continued, but the country occasionally provided social mobility for a few light-skinned, mixed-race individuals. Yet this social mobility was directly tied to the racist nation-building concepts of "branqueamento" (whitening) and "mestiçagem" (racial mixing/miscegenation).

Indeed, the social recognition of the racially mixed identity of "mulato/pardo" served largely as a buffer between White elites and the African-descended lower castes. Social status and economic privilege were accorded based on one's light skin color and approximation of a European phenotype. Simultaneously, the social order devalued Blackness and encouraged individuals to disassociate from their African ancestry. As a result, Brazil was able to maintain a rigid racial hierarchy that supported White supremacy, even as people of African descent approximated and sometimes even outnumbered the White elite. This is in marked contrast to the demographic pattern in the United States, where Blacks have always been a numerical minority and have thus been more vulnerable to the White majority's discriminatory policies.

Individuals in Brazil are overtly discouraged from identifying themselves along racial lines in order to maintain the national myth of a mixed-race utopia. Consequently, individuals can harbor derogatory notions about Blackness while still maintaining seemingly cordial interactions with non-Whites in social settings. Thus, for those Brazilians who focus upon the greater level of sociability between Whites and non-Whites (Telles' horizontal race relations concept), Brazil appears to be bias free. But Telles observes racial hierarchy even within the sociability indicators. For instance, while the level of residential segregation is moderate compared to that in the United States, darker-skinned Afro-Brazilians are more likely than Whites of the same income to live in areas of concentrated poverty.

In addition, non-Whites earn between 40 and 44 percent of what Whites earn, and students of African descent achieve educational levels consistently inferior to those achieved by Whites from the same socioeconomic level. The cumulative effects of these educational disparities are reflected in illiteracy rates for non-Whites, which are double the rates for Whites.

Telles recommends that Brazilian social justice reformers seek not only class-based policies to address the general problems of poverty, but also race-conscious policies like affirmative action. In fact, in 2001 Brazil became one of the first Latin America countries to institute race-conscious affirmative action.

However, the desirability for race-conscious policies is not without social and legal opposition in Brazil. This is why Race in Another America could not have come at a better time. With Telles' demonstration of how racial inclusion and exclusion simultaneously exist in Brazil as matters of both class and stratification, Brazilians may be able to stop talking past each other and instead work together to actualize the equality they all symbolically value".

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:26 PM

A few random observations:

The English (if not the British) have a long history of referring to dark-skinned non-African people as "black" ~ specifically, the native people of several of their colonies. Natives of the Indian subcontinent (i.e., current-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh) have a range of skin tones most of which are darker than those of Europeans, but have always been considered "Caucasian" by those who take seriously the concept of "race." English colonizers typically referred to the people of India as "black."

Indeed, I'm pretty sure that the beloved but fatally controversial children's book "Little Black Sambo" is set in India, not Africa.


While African-Americans obviously have no way of knowing the African communities from which their ancestors originated, we all know that the slave traders bought most of their human cargo in a fairly small area on the coast of West Africa. The slaves were not necessarily native to the immediate area ~ they came from tribes/communities that had been conquered by the slave-selling Africans who traded with the Europeans ~ but it's a pretty good bet that almost all of them were from relatively nearby West-African areas, not from the distant lands of East Africa and South Africa.

I've read some linguistic studies that trace a few African words that have entered American English through their use among the slave populations. They are invariably from West African languages. (The only example I can think of at the moment is "gumbo," from a West African word for the vegetable we call "okra.")

Current-day African American scholars and others interested in promoting black pride, etc., have adopted words and customs from all parts of sub-Saharan Africa in an effort to create (or re-create) a semi-synthetic heritage for African-Americans. One example would be the Swahili words used for the various days of Kwanzaa ~ few if any of the enslaved ancestors of today's Black American population would have spoken Swahili, a language of East Africa. Nevertheless, I think it's entirely OK for folks endeavoring to create a history for themselves (because their own real history was stolen from them) to appropriate whatever Africanisms they choose.


One more observation: people's racial identity really has as much to do with community and culture as it does with genetics. In the US, where strict racial segregation according to the "one drop theory" held sway for over a century, "mixed-race" people ~ including even those with a single ancestor of Arican descent among many white ones ~ were legally deprived of rights and consigned to a community of similarly restricted second-class American citizens. Over time, all members of this downtrodden group came to recognize each other as brothers and sisters, and as "different" from the white ruling group. In another setting such as South Africa, where a more complicated system of racial discrimination was in place, mixed-race folks were subject to a different degree of discrimination compared to their "pure"-black African neighbors, and everyone in that society, white black, and brown alike, would perceive and feel a definite difference between the "colored" and "black" communities.

The racial community and identities of one's parents (and maybe grandparents) have a lot to do with whether a given dark-complected American is considered ~ by himself as well as by others ~ either "biracial" or simply "Black/African-American."

Consider Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter, who has a White mother and a Black father, and therefore grandparents and cousins, etc., in the white community and in the black community. Someone like that is a prime example of a "biracial" person, because he knows and has roots in two separated-by-race societal groups.

Barack Obama would be a similar case, but I didn't use him as my primary example here, because of his estrangement from his father and his father's family. Young Barack would not have had contact with the African-American world through any of his family members, because his paternal grandparents were not only unknown to him, they were also Africans, not African-Americans ~ a whole different thing. Still in all, he must have been very much aware of his "biracialness," because on the one hand his mom and her family were white Americans, while he himself would invariably be seen by others as Black.

Now, Obama and Jeter are persons with half-white and half-black ancestry, and who grew up with one foot in each race, so to speak.

In contrast, consider the very many African-Americans who have similarly "half-and-half" DNA/ancestry, not because of one white and one black parent, but because of sixteen great-grandparents every one of whom had black and white ancestry in roughly equal proportions. People in this category would come from Black American communities, and every branch of their extended families would be Black, by custom and culture, by the perception of others, and even by law ~ by laws no longer in effect today, but nevertheless by laws that played an essential role in determining the social status and the group identity of all those parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., all the way back to the early slave era.

Here in New Orleans, in particular, there is a large community of Creole folks whose ancestry is probably 60-80% French/European and 20-40% African, and whose family trees include plenty of individuals who were considered "quadroons" and "octoroons" well before the Louisiana Purchase. Members of these families who lived in the 17th-18-19th centuries, prior to about 1880 when Jim Crow raised his ugly head, did NOT consider themselves "black" any more than they considered themselves "white." Only after these proud, even aristocratic, people were subjected to the same legalized discrimination as their blacker brothers and sisters did they even begin to identify with other African Americans. In more recent years, many of these Creole persons emerged as civil-rights leaders, thanks in large part to their familes' longstanding involvement in education, their generally well-established financial footing, and their familiarity with middle-class and even upper-middle-class mores.


PS to Azizi: "RSA" stands for "Republic of South Africa." Sorry I didn't clarify.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:44 PM


Few African Americans don't know which African ethnic groups their African ancestors came from ...what a terrible sentence! Ugh!!!

Here's what I meant to write: Few African Americans know the ethnic group of their African ancestors.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:41 PM

Jack Campin, thanks for that information about the use of referents in Scotland and other parts of the UK. The fact that people of African descent in the UK know "their roots and culture" [as the late great Bob Marley put it] is a blessing.

Few African Americans don't know which African ethnic groups their African ancestors came from. Condequently, we {African Americans} pick up some words from Swahili East and Central Africa, and some music & religion, and body gestures and more from the Congo {Central Africa}, and fashion from Senegal West Africa, and more music, fashion, dance, and religion from the Yoruba in Nigeria {West Africa} and kente cloth, day names, and spider stories, and adinkra symbols from the Akan {Ghana, West Africa}, and some boot dancing and Chaka Zulu admiration from South Africa etc etc etc.

That's how we have connected ourselves to the motherland, because we don't know and have little way of knowing who our African ancestors were. And so we make do in that way. Which is much much better than nothing.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:30 PM

Here's a hyperlink to the thread that includes a discussion about the use in Great Britain of "Oriental" as a referent for Asians:

BS: Mudcat Is Difficult For People Of Color

See the post at 02 Mar 08 - 02:31 PM and probably some posts before it and definitely some posts after it.

Thanks to Mudcatter Rowan that thread also contains hyperlinks to other Mudcat threads on race and race relations. I suppose this thread should join that list.

That thread was much more emotionally difficult for me than this one. I stand by the words that I wrote in that thread, but probably would change its title to "Sometimes Mudcat can be difficult for people of color."

That said, I'm glad that I remained a part of this Mudcat community because as a result of being part of this community, I have met and exchanged conversation with many good people, and I have learned more about myself and about others.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:33 AM

"From reading Mudcat threads, I have come to understand that the group referent "Black" also has a different meaning in the UK than it does in the United States. If I understood those posts correctly, in the UK, "black" not only refers to people of Black African descent, but also refers to people whose ancestry is East Indian, Pakistani, and [perhaps?] other racial/ethnic groups."

I'm in Scotland, which is a good bit different to England in its racial mix, but I think that widened usage of "Black" is relatively unusual, mainly confined to people with a strong political agenda (primarily white racists, but also people trying to promote solidarity among non-white peoples). I would never think of applying it to an Asian myself.

There isn't much alternative to "Black" for people of African descent here - "African-British" ("-Scottish", "-English") is never used, "Afro-Caribbean" is very commonly used, and "African" tends to be applied to first generation immigrants from Africa with no distinctive word to label their children. It's fairly common for people to label themselves with a specific national origin - Barbadian, Ghanaian, whatever (makes more sense in the UK since most people of African descent will know exactly where their ancestors came from).

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 11:02 AM

Franz, I posted my comment about that n word before reading yours.

And re your other points, thanks for the back up!

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 10:59 AM

Somewhat off-topic. Okay, really off-topic.

There was a discussion in a relatively recent Mudcat thread, whose name I can't recall, about the use of Oriental as referent for people. It seems that this term is still used in the United Kingdom, but isn't any longer approved as a referent for people in the United States. I remember the saying from around the 1970s? that "Oriental is a rug, not a person"...I cringe every time I see oriental [usually spelled with a small "o"} used as a referent for people. But I confess that I cringe even more everytime I see that "n****g" spelled out. When there are threads about minstrel songs or secular African American slave songs, I either don't open them or I emotionally & mentally prepare myself that I'm probably going to be confronted with that word with all the negative imagery that it implies to me-and to a number of Black people.   


I'd love this community to be more multicultural. I believe that meeting and conversing with people from diverse cultures is an enriching experience. Every culture has its folk music and folk customs. It would be great to learn about different folk songs and folk customs from the people who grew up learning them and living them. I would love to know more about Latino/Hispanic songs and games, and Native American songs and games, and Asian songs and games, and Maori songs and games, and Yoruba songs and games etc etc etc.

I think that a lot of people from these populations don't come to Mudcat because they think that the only type of "folk music" this forum is interested in is the music from Western Europeans, and music from Anglo-Americans. But the fact of the matter is that on Mudcat any member or guest can start a thread on almost any subject. Therefore, the fact that there are no threads on those subjects isn't a legitimate excuse not to start one and two and more.

Here's hoping that more people from different racial and ethnic groups in the USA and elsewhere in the world, will begin to make use of this forum to share information about their folk music and their cultures.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Franz S.
Date: 28 May 08 - 10:35 AM


Thanks for your kind response. Sorry about the Pittsburgh typo; I really do know better.

Uncle Phil-

The same word can be a common or a proper noun dpending on context and intent. Think of all the people surnamed White, Brown, Green, etc. I even know of a guy whose last name is Pink.

Racial referents are always emotionally loaded. I have known a number of WhitesAnglos who defended their right to use the word "n****r" because African Americans themselves used it. I'm not going to defend its use by anyone. I personally find it almost impossible even to write it much less say it because of the emotional impact on me and my family when it was used against us. It COULD NOT be just another word.

The same applies to capitalization of Black or Colored when referring to African Americans. The lack of the capital letter feels to me like a slur because that was usually its intent in my childhood.

I'm fond of words and grammar and can happily discuss them endlessly, but in this case the emotional content is just too high.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 10:31 AM

Hello, Phil. Thanks for your interesting post. I agree with you that certain words look funny when they're capitolized. But there are a lot of things that shouldn't be that are, right?

I only capitolize Black since I remember-in a vague sort of way-the efforts that were made by "Negroes" to capitolize the first letter of that group referent. Because I'm using Black as a replacement for Negro, {and once that referent was retired, for African American}, it makes sense to me to also capitolize the first letter in the word word Black.

And since I capitolize the word "Black", it makes sense for consistency's sake and out of respect for people, to also capitolize the word "White".

That said, I don't get bent out of shape it other people don't capitolize the first letters of Black or White when they are used as a group referent. And as I said earlier, I don't ever use the words yellow and red to refer to people. This may be inconsistent on my part, but I never said I was consistent.


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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Uncle Phil
Date: 28 May 08 - 09:00 AM

I meant to post something last night, but lost track of time once I started reading the Creole web site referenced earlier in the thread.

I grew up in Louisiana in the 1950s and 1960s. Terms like 'quadroon' or 'octoroon' were no longer in general use in the 1950s. We knew what they meant, but they were just quaint, historical terms to us. Similarly we knew what 'mulatto' meant, but didn't use the word. 'One drop' was conventional wisdom (and probably the law, though I don't really know) so we had no use for words to describe degrees of racial mixing.

My mother taught us it was polite to say 'white' and 'colored'. We were taught to use capitalized 'Negro' and capitalized 'Caucasian' in school. 'Nigra' was still in use, but us cool kids didn't use the word because it sounded old-fashioned. 'Nigger' was used in day-to-day conversation, sometimes as a deliberate slur but sometimes just as a word to identify someone's ethnic group. It was never a nice word and seems to get more emotionally charged as time goes on. I don't recall hearing anyone using black or African-American (or any other hyphenated ethnicity) as a racial referent until the 1960s.

As a matter of opinion, words that describe a physical characteristic (white, black, negro, redskin) still look odd to me when capitalized because they are not based on proper nouns. Words based on national origin (Chinese-American, German-American, Hispanic) should be capitalized because the names of countries are proper nouns. By the same logic Asian-American and African-American should also be capitalized since they are based on proper nouns.
- Phil

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 07:49 AM

A little bit of house keeping-the "as" between "Afro American", and "Afra American" is a typo as is the "s" at the end of the word referent in this sentence: "Notice how I go back and forth in using that formal referent and that informal referents". I was only speaking about one informal referent "Black".


Now that you mention it, the close connection of the word "Negro", with the word "n****r" is probably a large part of the reason why we went searching for another group referent to replace it. The fact that "African American" is connected to a geographical place is probably the strongest reason why we decided upon that particular referent.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 07:12 AM

Celtaddict, "African American" has been the formal referent for Black Americans since the mid to the late 1970s.

In referring to Black people, it's also appropriate to use the informal referent "Black". For instance, there's the James Brown song "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm proud". Note that James Brown didn't write "Say It Loud, I'm African American and I'm proud".

I believe that I spoke part of the truth when I said that we {Black people} change our slang and colloquial expressions when they become used too often by Whites. But in my opinion, that is only one of the reasons why African American slang changes so often. I think one other reason is that we just like to play with words. And we love to create new things, often based on older things. However, the reasons for the change in group referents are much deeper than that. As I wrote in my 27 May 08 - 09:49 post to this thread, I believe that the word "Negro" was rejected by Black people because it was too closely associated with slavery, and too closely associated with the struggles for equality that occurred in the late 19th century, the early twentieth century, and late middle of the twentieth century.

I think that the 1960s and 1970s were times of change. I believe that we {Black Americans} were heavily influenced by the multicultural movement of those times which paid homage to the cultures of different ethnic American populations. One thing that these populations have in common is that they are connected to a geographical place-China for the Chinese, France for the French, Ireland for the Irish, Poland for the Polish etc.

African Americans are a mixed race people. Most African Americans have some White ancestry & some Native American ancestry. And some African Americans {also} have some Asian ancestry. However, the tie that binds us together as a racial group is that we have some degree of African ancestry. I believe that the fact that so many African nations were declaring their independance from European nations during the 1960s contributed to a large degree to the pride we Black Americans felt about being Black. When we grew dissastified with the group referent "Negro", we tried out several other referents and then we [that is to say, a number of Black leaders] decided that African American would be our formal referent. The referent "African American" began to be used in the print and visual medias replacing "Negro", "Colored people", and "Afro-American" as, "Afra-American" and eventually African American became our formal referent of choice. At the same time, "Black" continued to be used as an informal referent for African American people, and other people of the African Diaspora. Notice how I go back and forth in using that formal referent and that informal referents. As the "hip-hoppers" say "It's all good".

It should also be noted that in choosing "African American" as our formal referent, we looked forward by going back to the past to reclaim a group referent that we had used before. For example, the Black religious denominations AME and AMEZ-African Methodist Episcopal, and African Methodist Episcopal Zion had never taken the word "African" from their church names.

While America may be in a change decade now {as reflected in the slogans of the probable Democratic party nominee for USA President, Senator Barack Obama}, the referent "African American" has been very stable for almost 40 years. I don't see that formal referent for Black Americans changing any time soon.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:26 AM

Through all of this the central issue I believe has always been respect, and who gets to make the definitions.
-Franz S

Franz S, it's a pleasure to meet you. I very much appreciate you sharing your story and your observations about the diversity of Black life in America. I am particularly glad that you wrote about those times that I also remember when Black people struggled to get media and government agencies to capitalize the word "Negro".

I recognize you as a fellow African American because-as you said-you choose to be part of that racial group in part because that is the way you were raised. I'm sure that there are Black people who have a closer affinity for specific White ethnic groups {or other racial groups} then that's their choice, and that's alright with me [not that it matters a hill of beans what I think. I should rephrase that to say that it doesn't matter to me if a Black person chooses to identify more with a specific White {or Asian or other racial} group as long as they aren't rejecting being Black because they are prejudiced toward us. I knew a White girl in high school who was absolutely "in to" Chinese culture. She learned how to write in Chinese, tried to learn how to speak Chinese, and was vociferous in her study of historical Chinese cultures. She told me that she believed that she had been Chinese in another life. Who am I to say she was wrong about that?

I don't want to live in a color blind world. I want to live in a world where people recognize & celebrate the beauty & richness of cultural diversity. I believe that there can be healthy and vibrant unity in diversity-including racial, ethnic, religious, gender, gender orientation, age, and all other forms of diversity.

Frantz, in your post you mentioned Imitation Of Life
This 1959 tear jerker film is about a very light skinned girl who rejects her Black mother and moves away from her to another city where she "passes" for White. That movie is based on a 1933 novel of the same name and is a remake of a 1934 film.

And by the way, Franz, I thought that my prayers for a brotha or sista to disagree with had been answered. But I agreed with everything you wrote.

But there is one thing you wrote that I can take exception to-you spelled "Pittsburgh" wrong. The name of that city that is my adopted home is spelled with an "h" at the end.

So there!


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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Tangledwood
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:56 AM

"I never did figure out *why* "Negro" became perceived as an insult. "

Jack, this is purely my own theory. Enslaved Africans came with the label "negro" already attached by common British usage. I assume that the white property owners in southern USA during that era were comparatively poorly educated. It seems quite feasible to me that they could have corrupted the word; - negro - negra - nigger. The last word became offensive due to its association with slavery when that became universally offensive. Later the word association was reversed carrying the offensiveness with it.
Just a theory with no research to back it up.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Celtaddict
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:41 AM

I suspect a good deal of the confusion about the 'right' way to refer to friends and neighbors with some African ancestry stems from the ideas Azizi posted above "we often change them if they become used too often by White people. :o)" and Franz, above, "When a label we choose gets co-opted, we naturally look for another term that is OURS, not theirs" This seems to suggest that, not only is there not "THE" accepted term, other than strictly temporarily, that white people can use, but also that once we start using a term, it begins to seem derogatory, and a new group referent is sought. This is a bit like adolescents' slang, which, if the adults (aka 'they') start understanding and using it, must be changed, as a type of 'code' promoting unity of a group which feels itself at odds with the 'others' who do not use the terms. It is also a bit like the ongoing change in how various physical and mental conditions are described. Whatever term has been in common use, as society progresses, seems to suggest an earlier time prior to that progress, so comes to seem derogatory; so 'simpleminded' became 'retarded' (which means 'slowed down') became 'mentally disabled' became 'developmentally challenged' as society learned more about people living with these conditions and the affected individuals made greater progress in mainstream society; 'crippled' became 'handicapped' became 'disabled' became 'physically challenged' became 'differently abled.' Perhaps the perception of need to seek a new group referent reflects a recognition of social change, of progress in sensibility, in equality, in opportunity, in perceptions of others.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Franz S.
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:50 AM


I've been reading your posts with deep interest for several years now, never feeling that I had anything to contribute but learning much from the discussion. Maybe this time I have something to say.

I went to college with Charley Noble and we're still friends. My mother always assured me that on the 1950 census I am listed as Negro or Black or whatever the currently acceptable term (to the Census Bureau) was at the time. That was because my stepfather was Black/Negro/Afro-American/African American. My aunt (my stepfather's sister) had six children ranging in skin color from "light, bright, almost white" to very definitely Black. I'm clearly white/White/ even Jewish by complexion and genetics, but I've been told by family members that I'm the patriarch of an African American family of which I am the only white member. I say this not to brag but to try to make clear where I come from.

When I was a youngster in the late '40s and through the '50s I remember clearly the struggle in the (may I just use Black to save typing?) community to get media and government agencies to capitalize Negro.   No sooner had that battle been almost won when Negro became a Tom word and Black was the word in my community. When Black became acceptable later there was a decade or so of casting about before African American became the preferred term.

Through all of this the central issue I believe has always been respect, and who gets to make the definitions. The discussion of labels from the colored/Negro/Black/Afro-American/African American community has always been about whether we (I include myself in the group because I choose to) may define ourselves or whether we must be defined by those who oppress (or "don't have a prejudiced bone in their bodies"). When a label we choose gets co-opted, we naturally look for another term that is OURS, not theirs,

I have a hard time using African American, not because of any political concern but because of habit. I'm still caught up to some degree in the struggle of my childhood to get the damn newspapers to capitalize Negro as a sign of respect. I've gotten accustomed to "Black" after 40 years. I still remember reading the Baltimore Afro-American (along with the Defender and the Pittsburg Courier) when I was a kid.

In this country the "one drop" theory has always ruled. Maybe my childrens' generation or my grandchildrens' generation will succeed in making this discussion irrelevant except as a historical curiosity. I can hope. Whatever the laws might have said about what legally makes someone Black, one drop usually controls. I can't remember the '50s movie about that; " Imitation Of Life"?

But the isuue is respect. Do we get to define ourselves or do we acquiesce in their definition of us? The genetic definiions of proportion of African DNA are of historical interest-what do those old words mean? But now as always it's about who has the power and how it is used.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 10:03 PM

Charley, it's always good to "hear" from you.

Have I mentioned lately that you need to write a book on your experiences. It would be so interesting to read, and I'd learn so much from it.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 09:55 PM

Oh well, another font command gone wrong. I can see it happened after the word "communities". Oh well, practice makes perfect, or so they say.

Sorry 'bout that.

But while I'm here, the "maybe not" that I wrote at the end of my last post refers to me disagreeing for disagreement's sake with that other Black person who should show up on this forum as a regular poster sometime soon {I hope}.

It does not mean that I disagree with the point that I made that all Black people are not alike. That should be obvious.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 09:49 PM

Jack, in my opinion, "Negro" is derogatory and degrading, as it carries the negative, historical baggage of the pre 1970s-before we "said it loud/I'm Black & I'm proud". Few African Americans under sixty years of age still use the term "Negro" in spoken language or in print, unless we mean it as a put down {insult}. For instance, if a Black man or Black woman acts in a subservient, currying for favors manner toward White people, he or she may be called a "Negro". If he or she really does that uncle tom, aunt jemina thing up, than he or she is a negro with a small n, which means the insult has been multiplied to the x degree.

We {African Americans} realize that most White people have difficulty keeping up with our slang and colloquial expressions-particularly since we often change them if they become used too often by White people. :o)

But we figure that it's been almost forty years since we decided on the formal referent "African American". Therefore, by now, we think that White people should be used to saying and writing "African American" instead of "Negro". The best we can say of a White person from the USA who doesn't use "African American" as the formal term for Black people is that they are old fashioned. But "old fashioned" suggests that they may be stuck in the pre-1970s when many White people didn't respect Black people's humanity. Using "Negro" would call into question whether that [non-Black] person is just simply stuck in the past because of his or her inability to stay current, or is using a long retired referent on purpose to convey the message that Black people should have remained second class citizens.

Notice that I said "African American" and not
"Afro-American". These two terms are absolutely not the same.
Using "Afro-American" as our group referent means the non-African American person is trying. But using the term "Afro-American" means for some reason or reasons-good, bad, or indifferent-that person hasn't kept up with the times. Instead, they are stuck in that brief interim period between the late 1960s and the late 1970s or so before "African American" had been solidified as the approved referent for Black Americans.

Of course, a non-Black person could just say "Black people" or "Black Americans", though both of those terms refer to more people in the African Diaspora than African Americans. But my suggestion is not to say "the Blacks" [or "the Whites"] or "the Black community". "Black" should always be used with another noun. Why? Well, to do otherwise has come to be interpreted as a person generalizing, and lumping all Black people together into one person, And that is a big no no. It harks back to that "all Black people look alike" syndrome. There is more than one Black person. There are tons of Black people, numerous Black communities, and different Black cultures. We aren't a homogeneous people who think alike, talk alike, look alike, or act alike.

I wish there were at least one other Black person on this forum who publicly acknowledged his or her Blackness. I wish there were times when we [that person and me] could go at it about politics or religion or culture or what have you and then folks would see that Black people don't always agree.

Maybe I'd disagree with that person just to prove my point that all Black people are not the same.

Well, maybe not.


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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 May 08 - 08:49 PM


Thanks again for provoking a very important thread and for providing your perspective for sorting it out.

I grew up in Maine, where Black students were few and far between, and the ones in my high school were considered minor celebrities (late 1950's).

When I was accepted for the Peace Corps (1960's) and assigned to teach high school in Ethiopia I had to reconfigure categories. I was to teach Africans (Ethiopians) who considered themselves "White" although they looked "Black" to me but it was the "Bantu" that they (the Ethiopians) looked down on as "slaves." Frankly I never did figure it out, other than one's ethnic group also played a role in how one was ranked.

We, as "Americans" got away with a lot because of where we came from. There were also Hindu and Sikh teachers in the high schools and I never figured out where they were ranked by the Ethiopians. Well, we were busy teaching and if we could get by as teachers, that was more than enough!

"We" tended to look down on the Hindu and Sikh teachers because they tended to write there lessons on the blackboard for the students to copy while we churned out reams of paper via our state-of-the-art Gestetna (Hah! I bet you don't know what that is!) stencil printing machines.

The Ethiopians were puzzled in turn by our Black volunteers. But they were obviously "Americans" and generally were accepted as such.

Of course when I was doing my initial library research on where I was being sent, I found such lovely exploration books titled as ETHIOPIA: Hellhole of Creation, and National Geographic "exploration" articles; they were less than useful for me at the time (prior to training), although interesting (and even amusing) in retrospect.

Most of us were "Whites" in a country where the resident "Blacks" had no sense of inferiority via colonialism. There were internal politics which we never did understand, and external politics which we were too naive to comprehend. As Peace Corps high school teachers we were a third of the teaching staff of the country, which had a major impact on the education system of that country. One wonders what kind of impact that was!

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 May 08 - 08:00 PM

Following on Sandra's comment, I've heard "half-caste" quite often in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. I assume it's a relic of the Empire, i.e. from India. It was almost invariably derogatory - in New Zealand the implication was that such people didn't even have the perceived redeeming value of "pure-blooded" Maori, being mostly urbanized proletarians with no traditions of deference. There was a whole raft of ugly stereotypes about being mixed-race in NZ, though when they got politicized it was more in the direction of European fascism than the American slave-society model.

I never did figure out *why* "Negro" became perceived as an insult. On arriving in the US from New Zealand in 1974, I used it when talking to my Afro-American neighbour and he looked at me as if I'd just been chipped out of a dinosaur fossil deposit. I got his point, but it had never occurred to me that the word itself could carry any negative connotations, any more than "Maori" did; in fact, to this day I don't think I've ever heard it used as a derogatory term.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: robomatic
Date: 27 May 08 - 07:47 PM

My father used the term 'colored' most of his life as a standard (non-derogatory) term for people I call black. He was probably aware that it was becoming archaic but we are creatures of habit. He did not have a racist bone in his body.

I remember meeting a very interesting man at a Bahai gathering, his background was Jewish Portugues, Native American, and Black. He appeared to be a black haired Caucasion but he told me at family gatherings he was the stand-out.

- - - - - - The one drop of blood rule taken to a comedic extreme:

In the movie "Dogma" by Kevin Smith, protagonist Linda Fiorentino is supposed to be an nth level descendant of Jesus. When original disciple Chris Rock reveals that the Savior was indeed "a brother", Jason Mewes looks over at Linda and goes: "she's black?"

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: artbrooks
Date: 27 May 08 - 07:24 PM

"What people want to be called" reminds me of an experience early in my career in Federal personnel administration. We (the VA) wanted to get all of the possible points for employing "minorities", especially in professional and supervisory positions, so we were sent a printout of the "racial" breakdowns among our employees, which was based entirely upon their personal self-identifications. It said that we had no Negro (the term then in use) physicians, which seemed to me to be incorrect. I went to speak to the member of our staff who was from Ethiopia (and who was very dark-complected), and asked him for permission to "correct" his records. He told me in no uncertain terms that (1) Negro only referred to people from south of the Niger River, (2) that he was a direct descendant of the Queen of Sheba and (3) he considered himself to be a Caucasian (the term then in use). I said, "thank you, doctor", went away, and his record remained untouched.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: GUEST,Joseph de Culver City
Date: 27 May 08 - 06:44 PM

Azizi, You've done a fine thing here. Thanks for your scholarship and generosity. I have nothing substantive to add to the discussion, but I wanted to say that I find your many posts on this topic inspiring. You remind me of my grandma (and that's saying something).

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 06:29 PM

Many people who have one African American birth parent and one non-African American birth parent consider themselves to be African American. Some don't. Senator Barack Obama is an example of a person of Black/non-Black ancestry who considers himself African American. I have read that champion golfer Tiger Woods does not.

In my opinion, Americans and other Western nations throughout the world rely on visual clues to help them determine who is or is not a member os specific races. In that sense, individual people lack the power to decide which race they belong to since their physical appearance-their skin color, facial features, and hair texture-largely make that determination for them. If they choose to go against societal norms, and declare themselves to be White even if they don't "look White", regardless of whether or not they were raised with very little contact with African American people, they will have a difficult time convincing other people that they are, indeed, White.

I've met people who I and who other people would consider to be African American based on their physical features. Those people had Black and Native American ancestry, and were raised as Native Americans. Some of them self-selected their racial group to be only Native American, and some of them indicated that their race is both African American and Native American. I think that American society is much more accepting of a person saying that they belong to both the Black race and the Indian race, then they are with a person saying that they belong to both the White race and the Black race.

The "powers that have been and the powers that still be" have made what was once legal rulings and what is now is still social determinations that a person cannot be considered a member of the White race if they have any known degree of "Black blood". However, this White exclusivity rule has been weakened because nowadays people can claim Native American ancestry and still be considered White {if they look White}. Maybe that is also the case for people who have some Asian ancestry.

Because the one drop of Black blood rule is undoubtedly racist, I believe that the time will come when more people of Black/non-Black parentage who don't "look White", will insist that they are White. And the time will come when more people of Black/White ancestry who don't "look White" will insist that they are members of both the Black and the White race. I believe that time will come, sooner rather than later. But I hope that those people who make the decision not to be legally counted as Black, recognize that some members of society will probably still consider them to be Black. And I hope that those people who "opt out of membership" to the Black race, will not make that decision because they are prejudiced against Black people.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: paula t
Date: 27 May 08 - 05:25 PM

The issue of categorising people by colour always perplexes me.A Black friend of mine said that she preferred to be called Black even though she was "officially" categorised as "mixed race".The term "Black" to her was a political term which related to her experience of society and the way she was treated within it. It was related to a perceived lack of power.Azizi, I would value your opinion about this. Is this still the case?(unfortunately my friend died in the late 1990s)
I believe that there is still a great deal of ignorance.Hopefully we have moved on a little since the printing of a set of encyclopedias which I picked up in an antiques shop a few years ago (c1930s).It contained a chapter about "The 5 races of Man"and these races were"White, Black, Brown, Red and Yellow".Where to start eh?A terrifying reflection of attitudes in our not too distant past!

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 04:53 PM

PoppaGator, thanks for your well written post. As you said, while we are moving in the right direction, people are still experiencing the the effects of centuries of racism. There is much to do to help eradicate and lessen personal racism as well as institutional racism in housing, the education system, the criminal justice system, and the mass media etc.


I have one question for you though PoppaGator. What is the RSA? Does that refer to South Africa? Or is that a typo for the USA?

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: PoppaGator
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:08 PM

There were significant differences in racial attitudes in the English-speaking American colonies as opposed to the French and Spanish areas of the New World, notably Louisiana.

While Africans were enslaved in both areas, they were much more thoroughly dehumanized in the English colonies. In Louisiana (the area of which I am most knowledgeable), a significant population of middle-income, well-educated gens libre de coleur ~ free people of color ~ was allowed to develop.

These folks considered themselves, and were considered by others, to be of an entirely separate category from enslaved Africans. It was not until after the Civil War, during the era when Jim Crow laws emerged, that mixed-race or "Creole" Louisianans were first looked upon as "colored" or "Negro," that is, as members of the same social/"racial" category as the freed slaves. That was when the "one drop theory" took hold, which was so eloquently described above by Louise.

It's sad but true that the legalized,codified prejudices of the societies into which we are born "colors" our perception of each other as fellow human beings [pun intended]. In the US, all of us, black and white alike, generally see anyone who exhibits any trace of African ancestry as African-American or black.

In South Africa, on the other hand, longstanding apartheid laws always distinguished between "blacks" (native Africans with little or no "mixed" ancestry) and "coloreds" (people with any mixture of European and African ancestry, seen as "less inferior" than the 100% Africans, and subject to less stringent legal limitations).

Even now, after tremendous political change in South Africa, I'm sure that people there still see each other not as either black or white, but as black, colored or white. And, to folks brought up in such a culture, African-Americans, almost all of whom have a degree of mixed ancestry, do not look "black"; they are seen as "colored."

The fact that legalized segregation/apartheid was abolished a generation ago in the US, and more recently in the RSA, while of course steps in the right direction, did not and could not immediately cancel the prejuducual effects of decade after decade of life-experience in a society within which racism has been institutionalized.

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 10:58 AM

Here's a link to the Redbone Heritage Foundation:

Under its name on the home page is this statement:
"Taking Pride in Who We Are"

Here is the organization's "About Us" statement:

"The Redbone Heritage Foundation is a not for profit organization chartered in the state of Louisiana. Our purpose is to foster research into the origins, the history, the culture, and the ethnicity of those people known as Redbones. Members will be encouraged to conduct such research in a scientific manner without prejudice or predetermined conclusions. Material pertaining to these people will be preserved, published, and made available to other researchers."


This website may have been recently launched, as there are no other pages that I could access. Perhaps the information on the website is for members only. There is a "to join" feature on the home page, but I didn't click it.


The Melungeon Heritage Association is a multipage website with a number of features.
Here's that association's mission statement:

"ur mission is to document and preserve the heritage and cultural legacy of mixed-ancestry peoples in or associated with the southern Appalachians. While our focus will be on those of Melungeon heritage, we will not restrict ourselves to honoring only this group. We firmly believe in the dignity of all such mixed ancestry groups of southern Appalachia and commit to preserving this rich heritage of racial harmony and diversity."


And here's an excerpt from one of the essays on their home page:

"Plecker's Infamous 1943 List

The head of Virginia's Bureau of Vital Statistics from 1912 to 1946, Walter Ashby Plecker, believed "there is a danger of the ultimate disappearance of the white race in Virginia, and the country, and the substitution therefore of another brown skin, as has occurred in every other country where the two races have lived together." This "mongrelization," in Plecker's view, caused of the downfall of several earlier civilizations. He was determined to prevent this in America, or at least in Virginia.

In January of 1943, Plecker sent a circular to all public health and county officials in Virginia, listing, county by county, the surnames of all families suspected of having African ancestry. The cover letter stated that they were "mongrels" and were now trying to register as white. The names listed in the southwestern Virginia counties included Collins, Gibson, Moore, Goins, Bunch, Freeman, Bolin, Mullins, and others described as "Chiefly Tennessee Melungeons." You can read more inside..."

[The word "inside" is hyperlinked on that page]


Here's another excerpt from that home page:

"First Union Gallery

In July of 1997, members of an online mailing list decided to gather in Wise, Virginia, to celebrate their Melungeon heritage. The organizers expected about 50 people; instead, more than 600 showed up. First Union attracted people from all over America - researchers, writers, and most of all, people who were curious about their ancestry and were exploring their Melungeon roots, whether known or suspected. From First Union, the Melungeon Heritage Association was chartered. Inside, you'll find a photo gallery of that weekend in July 1997".

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 10:44 AM

Speaking of color referents for people, the word "redbones" is used to describe people of Black/non-Black ancestry who often have a reddish tinge to their skin.

Here's an excerpt from :

"Redbone" is a term used to describe certain racially mixed ethnic groups in the Americas. Many use the term "redbone" for African Americans with light skin. This still seems to cause controversy and confusion among people. A related term is "yellowbone". The two terms tend to blur when one can say someone is "so light that you can see the red blood flowing though their bones".

There are two classes of "Redbones" and are two separate ethnic people. The first ethnic group who were called "Redbones" were groups of multi-ethnic families with similar or the same English surnames who were labeled as Free Persons of Color, Mulatto or Indian by early American census takers. The term was used for these mixed race multi-ethnic groups of families in Louisiana, South Carolina, Mississippi and East Texas...

The ancestry is said to consist of a combination of two or more of the following ethnicities; Northern European, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, South Asian, Native American and African ancestry of various degrees and mixtures...

Redbone" is seemingly a term common in the Neutral Zone and East Texas among nineteenth century era Euro-Americans and African Americans who thought they were referencing people of multi-ethnic genetics. Later generations of these two ethnicities seemingly continued to reference the descendants of these racially obscure people to the extent that some of these descendants seemingly began to think of themselves as "redbone." A usage is also claimed for an isolated enclave in South Carolina whose complexions confounded their neighbors. Close scrutiny reveals only vaguely distinct differences between the culture of the referenced people and the culture of the dominant Euro-Americans surrounding them wherever the epithet is used.

"Melungeon" is simply another epithet seemingly used in similar fashion with evidenced history to about the same era which produced the terms "redbone", "moor", "brass ankle", etc. All these terms have been associated with many of the same surnames. The term "melungeon" was seemingly common among Euro Americans and African Americans in Tennessee and Kentucky before its usages was recently expanded through tourism promotions and genealogy marketers."...


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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 10:30 AM

When talking about the "one drop theory" I couldn't resist pointing out that such an attitude actually is expressing the fear that the "African blood" i.e. heritage is *stronger* than any amount of "white blood."

Louise, that's an interesting point. I hadn't thought of the "one drop theory" in those terms. I also like the way you phrased the statement that "Fear twists human thinking and behavior in such strange ways". You have a great way with words, Louise. Kudos!

Also, Louise, I'd like to encourage you {and other guests who may be reading this thread} to join Mudcat. Membership is free and easy to do. Just click on the word "Membership" that is on the right at the top of the page, and follow those instructions.

I hope to "see" your comments on other Mudcat threads!

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Subject: RE: Racial Referents-Negro, Quadroon, etc
From: Azizi
Date: 27 May 08 - 10:28 AM

Artbrooks, you're right. The United Negro College Fund is another institution that kept a retired group referent in its name.

Also, Art, with regard to the word "zebra" as used as an informal referent for people of interracial birth, I've only seen and/or heard that word used by White people. Among Black people-including those who themselves have one birth parent who is Black and one birth parent who is non-Black, the informal referents that I've seen in print and heard are "mixed" and "half and half".

And, btw, I agree with you that color words are problematic, particularly with children, since they know that their skin doesn't look like the color "white" or the color "black". I suppose that I've yielded to societal pressure and use the terms "black" and "white" for people. However, I really don't like the color terms "red" and "yellow", and won't use them as referents for people. I know. I'm not being consistent. But, being inconsistent is a part of life, too.


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