Monday 16 February 2015

Euphemisms about Race (in Quotes)

The Market, Edward Burra

[Republican] code words for black: lazy, tax cuts, handouts, voter fraud, big government, socialism, takers. More GOP code words for black: dependent, poor, welfare, stand your ground, food stamps, entitled (KDS/@Yankeefan1972)

For the Rev Grylls, who has experienced the practice of a ministry first-hand, [the Church of England] must be ‘authentic and permeable’, which is code for ethnically diverse, hospitable to other faiths, and not hung up on women bishops. (Robert McCrum, Observer 21 July 2013)

Anglo-Saxon: white (If you’re French, it means British/American, or “unacceptably capitalist”. “National jewels are being made available to serve the cause of Anglo-Saxon hegemony.” Arnaud-Aaron Upinsky on the Kardashian-West wedding at Versailles)

born to Russian immigrant parents: Jewish (

diversity: “Black Journalists Complain About Lack of Diversity in Presidential Debates” (, Aug 2012)

community tensions: black people may riot, white people may attack Muslims (“…a warning by Gordon Prentice, Labour MP for Pendle, that the school, described as a Muslim Eton for girls, would both damage existing schools and colleges in the area and stoke community tensions.” Daily Telegraph, 2009)

divisive: racist (Attorney General Dominic Grieve said corruption was “endemic” in some ethnic minority communities. “Some Asian commentators have described Mr Grieve's remarks as ‘divisive’.” BBC News)

multiculturalism: “members of minority races being judged by different standards according to their ‘culture’.” (The Times, June 08) Norman Tebbitt doesn’t like “two parallel cultures. A society must have a dominant culture”. (Feb 08) Abandon the failed experiment of “multiculturalism” with its politically correct requirement that mainstream social values and beliefs be downplayed in case they “offend” a minority group. We should be a tolerant society, but if we do not give proper respect to traditional British customs we risk creating a rudderless country with no common values. (Norman Blackwell, The Times September 8, 2008)

New York: People would always ask “Are you from New York?” It was only later I worked out that “New York” was code for “Jewish”. (Sarah Silverman, The Guardian, Aug 4 2012) Until now, I've had a happy life thinking of myself as a Jewish writer. I came to accept that when my work was described as being “too New York” it was really a euphemism for something else. (Wendy Wasserstein)

tranquillity: no outsiders ("We felt so lucky to live here with the tranquillity. Now it’s a nightmare." Villager from Hemley Hill, where travellers have moved in.)

tribal: black
(“Black History Month is an expression of tribalism – we are now a nation with different national historical narratives for different people.” Ed West, The Daily Telegraph, February 18 2010)

trouble: “This morning my neighbour asked me how we were coping. Unsure of what she meant, she commented on the ‘trouble’ in the community. Most of what she said is not worth mentioning in detail, except that it was thinly veiled racism and classism.” (Christian blog)

So, when is White History Month? In the US, it's January, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December.

More euphemisms here, and links to the rest.

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