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Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations

The words and phrases permeate nearly every aspect of our society.

"Master bedrooms" in our homes. "Blacklists" and "whitelists" in computing. The idiom "sold down the river" in our everyday speech.

Many are so entrenched that Americans don't think twice about using them. But some of these terms are directly rooted in the nation's history with chattel slavery. Others now evoke racist notions about Black people.

"Words like 'slave' and' master' are so folded into our vocabulary and almost unconsciously speak to the history of racial slavery and racism in the US," says Elizabeth Pryor, an associate professor of history at Smith College.

But America's reckoning with systemic racism is now forcing a more critical look at the language we use. And while the offensive nature of many of these words and phrases has long been documented, some institutions are only now beginning to drop them from the lexicon.

In real estate

Master bedrooms/bathrooms: A master bedroom typically refers to the largest bedroom in the house, often accompanied by a private bathroom.

Nationally, 42% of current property listings on Zillow use the term "master" in reference to a bedroom or a bath. The phrase "master bedroom" first appeared in the 1926 Sears catalog, according to the real estate blog Trelora. It was a feature of a $4,398 Dutch colonial home, the most expensive in the catalog, referring to a large second floor bedroom with a private bathroom.

In computer technology

Master/slave: Tech engineers use these terms to describe components of software and hardware in which one process or device controls another.

The terms have been around for decades, and they've long raised concerns.

In 2014, the programming language Drupal replaced "master/slave" terminology with "primary/replica." Django opted to use "leader/follower." Python, one of the most popular programming languages in the world, eliminated the terms in 2018.

Blacklist/whitelist: In tech, a blacklist refers to a directory of specific elements, such as email addresses, IP addresses or URLs, that are blocked. A whitelist, by contrast, is made up of elements that are allowed.

In sports

The Masters Tournament: It's one of the four major tournaments on the PGA tour and is usually called simply, "the Masters." The history of the name goes back to 1934, when the tournament was first held at Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. Clifford Roberts, one of the co-founders, wanted to call the event the "Masters Tournament," according to the tournament's website. But co-founder Bobby Jones rejected the idea over concerns that it was too "presumptuous."

In the arts Peanut gallery: The phrase typically refers to the cheapest seats in a theater, and is informally used to describe critics or hecklers. When someone says "no comments from the peanut gallery," it implies that a certain group of commentators is rowdy or uninformed.

In law Grandfathered in: This legal term broadly refers to the "grandfather clause" adopted by seven Southern states during the Reconstruction Era.

Cakewalk: It's what we call an easy victory, or something that's easily accomplished. The cakewalk originated as a dance performed by enslaved Black people on plantations before the Civil War. It was intended to be a mockery of the way White people danced, though plantation owners often interpreted slaves' movements as unskillful attempts to be like them.

More at CNN

by Can't link CNNreply 7808/01/2020

[quote] "Words like 'slave' and' master' are so folded into our vocabulary and almost unconsciously speak to the history of racial slavery and racism in the US," says Elizabeth Pryor, an associate professor of history at Smith College.

IF you're American.

by Can't link CNNreply 107/07/2020


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by Can't link CNNreply 207/07/2020

Master is of late Old English origin.

This is the kind of micro parsing that really doesn't help a great deal.

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by Can't link CNNreply 307/07/2020

Don’t get OP started on Black Friday!


by Can't link CNNreply 407/07/2020

Blackleg = disease; strike breaker.

by Can't link CNNreply 507/07/2020

destroy all words!

by Can't link CNNreply 607/07/2020

Niggardly, interestingly, doesn't have a racist connotation or origin at all

by Can't link CNNreply 707/07/2020

Words are Swords!!!!

by Can't link CNNreply 807/07/2020

Forget about ever having a WHITE Christmas.

by Can't link CNNreply 907/07/2020

Clearly the words “bl__k” and “wh__e” need to be banned altogether. Only then can we avoid hurt feelings and racial holocausts. Ditto “sl_ve” and “mas__r.” And of course “ly_ch” has got to go. So hurtful.

Then we’ll never again be able to talk about nasty, depressing things like how Emmett Till was________ because he was ________.

There, doesn’t that feel better? We’ve struck a real blow for rac__l justice today!

by Can't link CNNreply 1007/07/2020

We should also get rid of gyped--from Gypsy

by Can't link CNNreply 1107/07/2020

Designers Name 2020's Ten Best Whites!

by Can't link CNNreply 1207/07/2020
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by Can't link CNNreply 1307/07/2020

Black raspberry ice cream

by Can't link CNNreply 1407/07/2020

Black cherry

by Can't link CNNreply 1507/07/2020

God bless the master of this house Likewise the mistress too, And all the little children That round the table go.

by Can't link CNNreply 1607/07/2020

Ban “black holes.”

by Can't link CNNreply 1707/07/2020

My hole is NOT getting canceled, r17

by Can't link CNNreply 1807/07/2020

Indian giver

by Can't link CNNreply 1907/07/2020


by Can't link CNNreply 2007/07/2020

I suppose quadroon and octaroon have to go as well. And don’t even think of leaving Negress I’m the conversation!

by Can't link CNNreply 2107/07/2020

Nigger in the woodpile it canceled. So is Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, Catch a nigger by the toe. If he hollers, let him go, Eeny, meeny, miny, moe.

by Can't link CNNreply 2207/07/2020

[quote] "Master bedrooms" in our homes.

Your ignorance is astounding, OP.

by Can't link CNNreply 2307/07/2020

CNN is becoming Slate/Beast/HuffPo.

by Can't link CNNreply 2407/07/2020

They even point out the term Master Bedroom was first used sometimes in the 1920's. That's 60 years after the Civil War ended. It has absolutely NOTHING to do slavery or being the master of a slave. It's probably more related simply being the 'head' of the household, which was common long before Europeans even knew about the Americas(except for that short Nordic sojourn in Vinland). Or a master craftsman who often had apprentices, etc.

It's really getting ridiculous at this point.

by Can't link CNNreply 2507/07/2020

White trash. It implies that everyone non-white is already trash.

by Can't link CNNreply 2607/07/2020

[quote] It's really getting ridiculous at this point.

It's been getting ridiculous for quite some time.

by Can't link CNNreply 2707/07/2020

Can I still say masturbate?

by Can't link CNNreply 2807/07/2020


by Can't link CNNreply 2907/07/2020

Black Maria

Black Narcissus

Big black cock

by Can't link CNNreply 3007/07/2020

Black and White Cookies will need to go from deli's, Blackened Chicken Breasts must be struck from menus, and if you fall down and hurt your knee, you'd better hope it doesn't turn Black and Blue.

by Can't link CNNreply 3107/07/2020

Canceled. Poor pooches.

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by Can't link CNNreply 3207/07/2020

We'd better ban all those words that are offensive to left-handers while we're at it (sinister, cack-handed etc).

"Master bedroom" does not imply slaves. If you want to be woke about it it is, in fact, offensive to the woman of the house (assuming she shares it) since it excludes her from any ownership of her room. One wonders idly which is the Master Bedroom at Buckingham Palace, where the owners keep separate bedrooms.

In sport, surely "Masters" refers to "people who have mastered their golf". It's like in "masterpiece", which is also not racist.

I googled Peanut Gallery and it is thought it refers generally to the poor people in the cheap seats at the vaudeville (as Edna Everage said much more recently, "Hold on up there. We don't want the place filled with plummetting paupers.") It's an American term, and because in parts of the US where there was effective apartheid these were often the seats used by the black community, most dictionaries are equivocal about whether it is meant to have racist overtones: they think usually it was class/education-based slurring, but concede it would sometimes have been racist also.

by Can't link CNNreply 3307/07/2020

[quote] One wonders idly which is the Master Bedroom at Buckingham Palace, where the owners keep separate bedrooms.

There is only one master bedroom at Buck House: the Queen's. Phil does not have joint ownership of that dump.

by Can't link CNNreply 3407/07/2020

r28 Jack-off is preferred.

by Can't link CNNreply 3507/07/2020

Watch out James Spader; they are coming for you.

by Can't link CNNreply 3607/07/2020

I can’t stand people who welsh on bets, it’s like they think they can get away scot free!

by Can't link CNNreply 3707/07/2020

The Houston Association of Realtors is suggesting that the term “master bedroom” be changed to “owner’s bedroom.” As if that’s LESS offensive?

by Can't link CNNreply 3807/07/2020

It's hyphenated R37.

by Can't link CNNreply 3907/07/2020

Indian Giver Jew him down Chink in the armor

by Can't link CNNreply 4007/07/2020

According to this, "weeknight" recipes. Implies a white sensibility as in free to cook for the family on weeknights. Yes there is a paywall but you get a few free articles first. Sorry.

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by Can't link CNNreply 4107/07/2020


by Can't link CNNreply 4207/07/2020

Are you a dominant or are you a submissive? Do I sound like a foreign when I speak like this? Oh, I am a hungry. Which nearby restaurant is an inexpensive? Yeah I am not a popular anymore.

by Can't link CNNreply 4307/07/2020

Have you finished your training?

Yes, master.

I am no longer your master, I am your samurai instructor dominant.

...I think I need more training in the strange language you speak now.

by Can't link CNNreply 4407/07/2020

I feel like I'm being gypped out speaking English properly.

by Can't link CNNreply 4507/07/2020

From the article linked in R41:

[quote]This week, Joey Hernandez, a Filipino-American food writer who joined Bon Appétit as its research director earlier this year, vowed to help dismantle a tendency “for decontextualizing recipes from non-white cultures, and for knighting ‘experts’ without considering if that person should, in fact, claim mastery of a cuisine that isn’t theirs.”


by Can't link CNNreply 4607/07/2020

White boi.

by Can't link CNNreply 4707/07/2020

[quote] “for decontextualizing recipes from non-white cultures, and for knighting ‘experts’ without considering if that person should, in fact, claim mastery of a cuisine that isn’t theirs.”

Off topic but: I guess a Chinese person could NEVER be a master sushi chef because sushi isn't theirs, even if they were born in Japan and adopted by a master sushi chef and their spouse.

by Can't link CNNreply 4807/07/2020

Identity politics lunacy at its finest.

by Can't link CNNreply 4907/08/2020

nooks and crannies

by Can't link CNNreply 5007/08/2020



by Can't link CNNreply 5107/08/2020

Nobody here but us chickens.

by Can't link CNNreply 5207/08/2020

Statues, renaming, not using words, these are all nose jobs on a country that needs open heart surgery.

by Can't link CNNreply 5307/08/2020

"Nigger Toes" a/k/a Brazil Nuts

by Can't link CNNreply 5407/08/2020


by Can't link CNNreply 5507/08/2020

I can't wait until the non-STEM academics are brought to the guillotine. I do hope the beheadings will be lice streamed. 98% of them are useless imbeciles.

by Can't link CNNreply 5607/08/2020

[quote] I do hope the beheadings will be lice streamed.

What an unintended pun!

by Can't link CNNreply 5707/08/2020

[quote] And of course “ly_ch” has got to go.


by Can't link CNNreply 5807/08/2020

What will the Spanish do?

In Spanish, the word for black is negro, as in “café negro, por favor.”

by Can't link CNNreply 5907/08/2020

Can’t we just call a spade a spade?

by Can't link CNNreply 6007/08/2020


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by Can't link CNNreply 6107/08/2020

te futue, R56.

by Can't link CNNreply 6207/08/2020

I know many of these examples are silly, but it's not a terrible thing to reimagine language or give new meanings to old words and outdated concepts. Churches some time ago grappled with the fact that the Christian God is always "HE", or "Father". . Why would God have a gender? Women have never been fully included in Christianity, and that is just one of many reasons why. There's something wrong with language itself, at least the English language, when all things bad are related to black or dark. "He has a black heart". "I was having dark thoughts". "He's a blackguard". They've done numerous heart-breaking psychological studies with white and black children and dolls, asking 3 and 4 year old children to point at dolls. Whether white or black, if asked if a doll is a "good doll", the children of both races will point to the white doll and if asked "which doll is a bad doll?" , children of both races point to the black doll. Ironically, there is no such thing as black skin or white skin. Every human being on the planet is some shade of brown, ranging from ivory/pink very light brown to very dark "plum" or "eggplant" brown. There is also no such thing as yellow skin or red skin. Sadly, it's become convenient to slap these labels on people and also emotions. Maybe we should carry paint color chips with us so that we can describe people more accurately and skip these inaccurate color labels with their centuries-old emotional baggage. "The thief was a tall pinkish beige man" . "That wonderful musician was burnt umber". "She was sand-colored".

by Can't link CNNreply 6307/08/2020

Negro is actually the PC term for blacks in Portuguese and also the color black in Portuguese and Spanish. Nero/Noir in Italian and French. I bet they'll find a way to bastardize this as they did with Latinx.

BTW Blacklist, black magic, black market are terms used since the middle ages way before the Atlantic slavery trade even started, but who cares about facts? There are many medieval texts on black magic and the occult using all these terms dating back as early as the 1100s.

by Can't link CNNreply 6407/08/2020

"You children are behaving like wild Indians!"

This isn't racist but I hate it - "No room to swing a cat."

by Can't link CNNreply 6507/08/2020

What will I call my degree that comes between a Bachelors (hmm problematic too) and a Doctor of Philosophy?

And if I conduct music in Italian?

And if I just want to discuss one’s high achievement in an endeavor?

Bunch of cunning linguists, these wokesters.

by Can't link CNNreply 6607/08/2020

R63, God has a gender because (if you listen to the folks who wrote his Book) He wants to tell us all what to think and how to behave. He is thus certainly a man and probably straight.

I'm pretty sure we talk about "black thoughts" and most of those other examples you gave because nearly all children and a good number of adults are afraid of the dark. Thus "dark" is associated with scary and depressing and "light" is associated with safety and hope. (The first thing that guy God said was "Let there be light.")

Can any of our Asian or Asian-derived DL-ers shed light on whether similar metaphors exist in Asian languages, where black people have been thin on the ground?

by Can't link CNNreply 6707/09/2020

[quote] Can any of our Asian or Asian-derived DL-ers shed light on whether similar metaphors exist in Asian languages, where black people have been thin on the ground?

All I know is that in Asia , white is associated with mourning and death and people wear white not black for a funeral, at least in predominantly Buddhist countries like Thailand.

by Can't link CNNreply 6807/31/2020

I haven't heard some of these words and phrases in a Coon's Age.

by Can't link CNNreply 6907/31/2020

[quote] All I know is that in Asia , white is associated with mourning and death and people wear white not black for a funeral , at least in predominantly Buddhist countries like Thailand

Pretty sure that's a muslim thing.

by Can't link CNNreply 7007/31/2020

I recently read a document that recommended not using the phrase "chink in the armor" since it could be seen as racist.

by Can't link CNNreply 7107/31/2020

No more faggot as a bundle of sticks or a fag as a cigarette.

"Hey, faggola, why don't you go light your fag on the burning faggot?"

by Can't link CNNreply 7207/31/2020

Could me Muslim too, but definitely a Buddhist thing. I've been to a Buddhist funeral of the Asian grandma of a friend and that's where I've learned that white is what you wear in a funeral, not black, at least in Thailand, I suspect this is true to other Buddhist nations.

by Can't link CNNreply 7307/31/2020

Naturally The Guardian felt obliged to provide balance and give voice to travellers groups to challenge the views of the judge in the case.

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by Can't link CNNreply 7407/31/2020

[quote}"Nigger Toes" a/k/a Brazil Nuts

R54 My mother used to say that. She also used the phrase "Nigger in the woodpile."

by Can't link CNNreply 7507/31/2020

In SJ Perelman's The Beauty Part someone trying to sound genteel refers to "a colored gentleman in the woodpile."

by Can't link CNNreply 7608/01/2020

Is there something racist about peanuts? I know kids who do not know that fried chicken/watermelon/grape soda are supposed to be “food that blacks people like” and I can’t correct them because why introduce racist concepts when they don’t know them?

by Can't link CNNreply 7708/01/2020

Well, what about “in the red” and “in the black”, referring to balance sheets? Black is GOOD in that scenario.


by Can't link CNNreply 7808/01/2020
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