How to Fight Casual Racism

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Reader Comments (108)

Ha. This one made my day. Especially panel 3.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFade Manley

Clearly a cartoon going for a record number of comments. I predict three figures, but not four.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Yeah, that was the only name my wife had for Brazil nuts when we met. She honestly had never heard them called Brazil nuts.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjzimbert

The last line's a winner. :-D

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBern

Some have even made it into product names. "Perfectly tidy and clean"

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterasdf

What term are you referring to that means "to not deliver on a promise"? If it's what I think, I think you're mistaken.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug

I think you pulled it off quite nicely.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRubrick

I'm hoping that most people won't understand panel 2...

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMikey

This one is less funny and more PSA than normal :\

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHappy Dude

My grandma still calls Brazil nuts the name to which you are referring and that I won't repeat here.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCortJstr

On that note, "Heeby-Jeebies" means "Hebrews and Jews". As in, they're coming to get you. So... yeah.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

Looking at that third panel, I’m a wee bit puzzled. Welsh on a bet, Jew down a price, be an Indian giver, those are all clearly racist. But the only word I can think of for going back on a promise is to ‘renege’. Lots of people pronounce that as ‘re-nig’ which sort of suggests the n-word, but I don’t believe its origin is connected at all:

ORIGIN mid 16th cent. (in the sense [desert (esp. a faith or a person)] ): from medieval Latin renegare, from Latin re- (expressing intensive force) + negare ‘deny.’

Is there another, racially-loaded, word for not delivering on a promise?

Scott: I wrote this long enough ago that I don't clearly remember what word I meant there. I don't think it was renege, I THINK it was gyp, but I'm not 100% sure, and if that seems unlikely to you, you clearly don't know me. I have an "absent-minded professor" thing going on.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDominic Brown

This is so timely... I just recently googled 'Golliwog' as I was curious what it meant within the context of the lyrics of a song and well... it didn't come across well for the songrwriter.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim

How to Use Your Comedic Brilliance for Civil Progress? I swear that's what the title said a minute ago. I can see this ending up on some Professor of Diversity Studies's office door, and isn't that where all comic authors aspire to be?

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDArtagnon

And I thought my family was the only one with a totally racist term for brazil nuts.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJustin

I remember recently going grocery shopping with my mother, in australia. There was some issue with the fruit, so I was left holding a certain brand of cheese for a few minutes, knowing what the brandname meant outside australia. I've never felt so awkward.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaige

You seem to be implying that "renege" is a racial slur? If so, I think you are mistaken.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoe J

If I meet any real gypsies, I won't use that word. Until then, I'm not sweating it. It's not even a real race, as the term, once (centuries ago) used to refer to Romanis, is more akin to the word "cannibal".

"Renege" ("re-nig"), i.e. not honoring a bet, is not a racist term at all. Its origin is unrelated.

So yeah. Racism sucks, for sure. But stick with the deep breaths, because you're maybe taking it too far if you're really stressing about a term like "gyp" that has long since entered colloquial language. More importantly, I doubt anyone who's part of the group it refers to is sweating it as much as you are. Seems like a tempest in a teapot.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAdam S.

Words "really mean" whatever people use them for. I've never heard anyone use "gyp" in reference to Gypsies, so although the word origin is fascinating, it's irrelevant.
An example of that in reverse would be a word like "faggot" -- its original meaning (bundle of wood) is irrelevant, because that's not how people use it now.

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZak

"Racists are really easy to swindle." That got me chuckling! But you're fighting an uphill battle with "Honkey-ing" (or Honky-ing -- spelling there is still unclear to me) due to the repetitive "ee-ee" sound which makes it very difficult to pronounce in casual conversation.

I *would* try and suggest just "Honking" but I am afraid I will offend too many geese, and while that may be good enough for the gander, I can't risk it because those bleepin' Canuck dudes fly over twice a year!

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMigratory Foul

I was going to compose some trenchant comment, filled with thoughtful observations about the evolution of language and the way colloquial expressions can change in potent and unexpected ways with the passage of time, but then I thought, "Aw, the caucasian with it!"

Good one! Again!

May 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

I've also heard that "Gypsy" itself is a slur used to refer to (among others) the Romani people. Don't know if that's actually true, though.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTim McCormack

I'm lucky... I've always known Brazil nuts as Brazil nuts.

As for the PSA-ness of this strip, I think you've managed to pull it off, while still keeping the 'normal' feel of your strip/the characters. For what it's worth (and how much worth does my opinion have, anyway?), you can breathe easier. (BTW, I put normal in quotes just then because your strip is anything but 'normal.' And that's a compliment!)

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCR

That second word bubble in the third panel is beginning to remind me of Louis C.K.'s bit about why he hates it when people say "the N-Word". Your attempt to avoid saying the thing you want said forces me to think the thing I want unthought.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterwumpus

zak, you are mistaken. half the meaning of a word lies in how the audience of the word hears it. if you would like a clear demonstration of the principle, by all means develop the habit of using "nigga" the way it is used in modern parlance. too loaded? ok, use "niggard", a word which is unrelated in origin *and* meaning. see how effectively you can explain that with a mouth full of knuckles.

"renege" isn't what scott was going for, there in panel 3. the slur in question, i would bet, is "to be an indian giver".

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermisanthropope

Funny enough, as a native american, I never thought of indian-giver as a slur against indians, because it was always the white man taking things away.

and yeah, I didn't think it was 'renege' but 'gyp.'

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNalano

The etymology of gyp is disputed
In any case etymology is not much of a guide to current meaning--as the above noted faggot and fascist have the same etymology (which is hilarious BTW)
If you want some casual racism how about the "Uncle Ben" on all those US food products? Uncle Ben is named as and dressed as a house slave.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRob

This is the first time I've been totally stumped by one of your comics: I was lost after the first panel and I had to google panel two.
That's no name for Brazil nuts I've ever heard in before.

Panel three was just confusing till Dominic posted the words. I've seen them used in fiction before but never heard them in conversation. Do people actually speak like that in the U.K.?, or is this more of a regional thing?

Perhaps some of the other commentators can answer.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCallum M.

Re: using Gyp for Gypsies. I've heard "Gypo" but although definitely non-Pc it wasn't used as a term of abuse but to differentiate between different close friends having the same name. As in John the Gypo. Used in one way it could be a term of abuse, used the way I heard it, with this person proud of his heritage and all his friends knowing that he is, no insult was implied or taken. I wouldn't use the term myself however. I'd be worried abut giving offence.

While I'm rambling. No, actually, I'll just stop there.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMike Geordie Brown

I assumed the word was not "renege", but welching (Welshing).

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeithcurtis

... I get the feeling I don't want to know the story behind the second panel, yet I can't help but ask...

Excellent comic, though.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

The Brazil nuts thing confused the hell out of me, particularly as everyone was being too civil to actually say what the racist name for the nut was. As someone who isn't around racists very often (or so I hope), and is around people discussing Brazil nuts even less, it's not a term I'd been exposed to.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteralpha5099

I have almost no idea what much of this is about, but I expect, as with fast food and football, we do racism differently this side of the pond...

"Two peoples separated by a common language"

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterUK English speaker

"Racists are easy to swindle" made me SOOOOOO happy.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaptain Etiquette

Um, Scott, um......"Gypsy" is a racist slur for Roma. (Singular Rom)

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCozmik Cowboy

I predict that Google will see a large spike in seaches related to Brazil nut slang names.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScraper

The third panel is pure gold. "Rascists are really easy to swindle." That's an awesome way to fire a shot back across their bow[s]!

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterscgvlmike

But...Gypsie itself is a racial slur!

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMathew

I think this is a slick four panels, and you did a great job. It just seems strange because you and Rick are a united front.

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan R-M

aren't Brazil nuts called "monkey toes"?

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered
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