Trying to do better.

I was thinking the other day about some new language we’re all suddenly using. Not new words, but particular phrases. Make space for. And sit with that. And do better. There are a few others that will come to me later, but I ran across a couple of them in a single short piece the other day, and it reminded me how much they bug me.

There’s an undertone of nursey preschool teacher to do better, scolding mommy to sit with that (in your timeout chair), and while I despise the term “virtue signaling,” there’s an undeniable tone of it in make space for. Here’s a wonderful thing that a person who is better than you has made space for. Sit with that a minute (along with your lazy badness). See if you can’t do better, going forward.

I used the word “crazy” in a headline and got a finger in my face about it from a reader, who included a link on why no one is supposed to say crazy anymore, but honestly, “mentally ill idea” doesn’t really express what I was trying to say. Also, “slaves” has been replaced by “enslaved people,” which comes from the same idea that changed “schizophrenic” to “person with schizophrenia” and “manic-depressive” to “person with bipolar disorder.” It emphasizes humanity, but honestly, if it makes that big of a difference to you, maybe your problem was you not fully understanding slavery to begin with. I’m informed that “slave” is a nonhuman noun, but I never saw it that way, except when a photographer showed me his lighting system, which uses the term to describe a particular type of flash.

Twelve Years an Enslaved Person. Person Enslaved to the Rhythm. Doesn’t quite work.

Don’t get me started on the linguistic minefields around transgenderism. I keep my mouth shut. I check my privilege. I sit with that. I make space for the idea that it is better to confuse readers by saying, for instance, “actor Elliot Page has come out as transgender” than to spend even a single phrase explaining that Elliot was once known as E****, because one must never, ever use a deadname. You have to figure it out from the paragraph that says Elliot starred in “Juno” and a couple other films you may or may not have seen. Kate effortlessly uses “they” and “them” to describe nonbinary folks, and I’m never not confused by this, and asking “who else are we talking about?”

I try to have empathy for every member of the human family, but as a writer, my aim is clarity. This doesn’t help.

When Ross Perot was running for president, he addressed an NAACP chapter. He was talking about why NAFTA was bad for working-class people, who are disproportionately not-white, and he said, “Who gets hurt by these trade agreements? You people!” This led to a blizzard of think pieces about the term “you people,” how condescending it is, etc. etc. A colleague said, “He should have said ‘people of you,'” and I cannot deny it: I laughed, even though I fully understand why colored people is bad, and people of color is not. If Perot had said “you guys” or “you folks,” no one would have said a word, but oh my — you people. Very bad.

I read something yesterday that announced, in an editor’s note at the top, that a particular racial slur used by the subject of the story (describing an incident where the slur had been used to attack her, not by her) had been excised. I got to the part with the slur, and it had been asterisk’d out. So…OK, I get it, that was a good call. But why announce it first? Just do it. It’s talking down to readers, which is a reflection of so much of what we do with each other these days. It’s a writer announcing “I heard the bad word, but I am sparing you, because I’m trying to do better,” even though everybody probably knows the word in question.

Anyway, welcome seems to do the work of make space for. Think about it works for sit with that. Do better is probably something we have to live with, until it’s replaced by something worse. I leave you with this, which I found in the NYT’s Social Q’s column:

Posted at 10:25 am in Popculch |

52 responses to “Trying to do better.”

  1. Mark P said on May 19, 2021 at 10:43 am

    Language changes, but in some of these cases, the end result is the same. The euphemism becomes the dirty word.

    As to “slave”, whatever. I don’t care what someone else calls a slave; that’s being pretty instead of trying to solve the problem of white supremacists and institutional racism.

    The use of they for the singular has a long history. It’s not really a recent innovation.

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  2. LAMary said on May 19, 2021 at 10:50 am

    My ex used to say “they” or “them” when talking about someone he had to go see or spend a weekend with when he was wheedling out of seeing his kids on a weekend. He was ahead of his time. He’s living with a them now. He was seeing them and several other thems for quite a while before I sent him packing.
    I hire people for positions related to the homeless population and I see that group called homeless, persons experiencing homelessnes, PEH, and unhoused persons. Sit with that.

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  3. Jenine said on May 19, 2021 at 11:19 am

    I think ‘enslaved person’ does good work making an unidentified historical individual more into a person for me than the word ‘slave’ which slides too easily into the ‘thing’ category.

    Perceiving how language has been changing over my lifetime is one of my favorite parts of being this age (mid 50s).

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  4. Jeff Borden said on May 19, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    I just finished reading “Four Lost Cities” by Annalee Newitz, who is pictured on the rear flap wearing a suit and tie above a brief biography that says “they” live in San Francisco. It threw me for a loop the first time I read because I was looking for the other person who made it “they.”

    My tutor these days on LBGTQ terminology is a fellow dog owner who is a young Jewish queer woman–not a lesbian because that is too confining– and is married to a transgender man. She is very good-natured about explaining things like gender fluidity and how queer is different than gay to a doddering old man like me. I’m grateful I’m not on a copy desk these days. . .it must be maddening these days.

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  5. Sherri said on May 19, 2021 at 12:19 pm

    I think there make space for is different than welcome. We welcome guests, but guests are there on our terms, subject to our tolerance. Make space for says that we’re making room for new people who will be setting the terms with us, not just by our tolerance.

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  6. nancy said on May 19, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    The whipsawing between different constituencies of these groups struggling to be seen can be baffling. I remember when all people who were — excuse my use of the term — homosexual called themselves gay. Then lesbians wanted to be known as lesbians, not lumped in with gay men. So we said “gay and lesbian” for a while, and then added the B and the T. Then Q & I and I think maybe there’s an A in there? Personally, my limit is five letters, so I’ll write LGBTQ, but fuck if I’m going past that, and I’ll happily embrace Queer if I think it applies to all of the above, but I bet it doesn’t.

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  7. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 19, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    My growing edge* in the last twenty years has been in working with terminology for and with indigenous people. Some prefer Native American, some in fact do prefer American Indian, and one chief I’m regularly in contact with likes using NDN, but tells me that’s in group and I shouldn’t worry about using it when I’m writing. The general preference is tribe/nation affiliation anyhow, but there to I can, at her request, say “Sara Sneed, a member of the Arikara tribe” but I will hear from some saying “that should have been ‘Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation’ or on second and later uses ‘MHA Nation’ for short,” but Sara may also ask I refer to her as “of the Hundi people, also known as the Arikara nation.”

    Likewise, my specialty has been in archaeology around the Ohio Middle Woodland, or Hopewell Culture period. Many (but not all) Native Americans dislike the term “Hopewell” in general, since the type-site for the cultural era was named for a landowner who was a Chillicothe area unreconstructed former Confederate cavalry trooper named Mordecai Cloud Hopewell. We absolutely work in both archaeological writings and public interpretation to not write or say “the Hopewell people,” and when using the cultural referent about the literature note that “Hopewell is a label used by later scholars, and was not their name for themselves, which we do not know since there are no written records from Ohio 2,000 years ago.” But if I’m doing a paper or at a conference and I mention “Ohio Middle Woodland” cultural practices, quite a few archaeologists wince (yes, mostly older ones) because it is simpler and clearer to say “the Hopewell ceramics display these qualities.”

    And then there’s the (to me) inexplicable practice of the NPS and hence most federal paperwork to spell it “archeology,” while almost the entire field in scholarship and cultural resource management still uses “archaeology,” and there’s definitely something signaled when you use one spelling or the other. But terms like “funerary artifact” or “pilgrimage” or “offerings” have been brought into debate recently as not just younger, but indigenous practitioners enter the field. NAGPRA and how to handle human remains of any era are also still a minefield of various sensitivities and requests: some want anything found reburied post-haste and without study, some accept certain kinds of destructive study (C14 analysis or soil humates, for instance) if reburial is provided for fairly quickly, and a few do not care as long as there’s consistency between how a settler Anglo bone find is handled or a late prehistoric Native American fragment.

    I’m a typical 60 year old, I suspect: early on, I was irritated a bit, then I was very uneasy and worried about how this would affect research and learning about the past, and now I’m realizing I still have much to learn, and there are trade-offs in any approach . . . but I’ve come to appreciate and even find ways to tell my peers what’s meant when previously marginalized groups say “nothing about us without us.” And that’s where we’re going, and it will be okay (unless your whole career is built on enamel analysis of North American prehistoric tooth chemistry, in which case you may want to shift your focus).

    *Nancy, does that phrase go on the list?

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  8. Heather said on May 19, 2021 at 1:07 pm

    I totally agree that the speed at which proper/preferred terminology shifts today is causing a lot of whiplash. Personally I’m having trouble with people not liking calling a group of women either “guys” or “ladies.” I’m not offended by either, but if you call grown women “girls,” then I get annoyed.

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  9. LAMary said on May 19, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    In tweet that’s offensive in many ways, DJT Jr. shows a photo of Caitlin Jenner and a photo of Rachel Levine, both transgender women. Caitlin is all makeup and extremely fake looking tits and Rachel Levine looks like a woman her age. DJT jr titles the photos Conservative Girl and Liberal Girl and concludes that what applies to girls in general, that being liberal girls are unattractive and conservative girls are beautiful, also applies to transgender women.

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  10. Deborah said on May 19, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    I hired an undocumented guy (so sue me) from off the street where they congregate, looking for work. I picked the first guy I saw who conveniently is youngish and very strong. We put him to work clearing out the tenacious vine from the chain link fence. The guy is amazing. He did in one hour the equivalent of what LB and I did in eight hours. He’s charging $20 an hour but I’m going to give him more, because he’s totally worth it. I’m also getting his phone number for more work we can find for him.

    We have five windows in our condo and I’m cleaning one a day so it doesn’t turn into a horrendous task that I usually do all at one time once a year. I’m cleaning the exterior, the interior, the sills and the blinds. These windows are about 30″ tall by 72″ wide, nothing as large and expansive as our Chicago windows.

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  11. JodiP said on May 19, 2021 at 1:58 pm

    I have used “person with [insert disability here]” for a very long time. It is a way to be about the person and not the disability. I have also learned that some people prefer to be called disabled becasue they see it as more honest. I happy to honor and remember what the person prefers.

    I really, really appreciate “enslaved people” because it again centers their humanity.

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  12. Little Bird said on May 19, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    I’m on the autism spectrum and you are more than welcome to use the term autistic when referring to that aspect of my life. I’m also disabled and find it annoying when people insist on “person with disabilities” because to me it sounds like pandering.

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  13. susan said on May 19, 2021 at 2:08 pm

    How about “differently-abled”? Cringe. Had to use that when I worked for the Gummint back in the ’90s. Cringe. A friend of mine who has cerebral palsy (from a bad birth), calls himself and others of like group, a crip. I wouldn’t, though.

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  14. Dexter Friend said on May 19, 2021 at 8:21 pm

    I offended a mild-mannered sergeant 51 years ago by intermingling the terms Chicano and Mexican. This man was named Alonzo and he was born and lived within earshot of Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine, Los Angeles. I was trying to be polite , when in conversation I grouped him in with Chicanos. He instantly, for the first time, and I knew him for months, got really pissed off at me. Then he calmed down, told me to never call him a fucking Chicano again, and it was over. He said if I had to differentiate him from gringos, just call him a Mexican. He had never been to Mexico in his life. It’s a complicated thing, ain’t it?

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  15. JILL said on May 19, 2021 at 9:22 pm

    I had a conversation with my kids over dinner and they were throwing out they/them, he/him like they were raised on it. It still makes my brain stutter. But I’m trying.

    In other words: I hear you so loud and clear Nancy.

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  16. gretchen said on May 20, 2021 at 1:21 am

    My sister decided that she would be Nonna when she had grandchildren, even though she’s not Italian. Grandma sounded old to her and she refused to be old. I am married to an Italian but went with Grandma. She was scathing about my decision. Nobody she knows goes by Grandma – they all have to have some other name so they can pretend they’re not that old.

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  17. ROGirl said on May 20, 2021 at 4:51 am

    Some profiles on Linkedin have she/her or he/him on them. I believe some companies are requiring people to identify their personal pronouns.

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  18. basset said on May 20, 2021 at 6:56 am

    “Reached out to” is another one, it seems to be a requirement for local tv news here. Almost every night we see video of a reporter typing earnestly, usually on a phone, while we hear something like “I reached out to the mayor’s office but they didn’t reply…”

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  19. alex said on May 20, 2021 at 7:28 am

    “Reach out to” has replaced the directive “call” in the office, and I suspect this may have to do with evolving telephone etiquette in the age of cell phones. Just a decade ago people spoke directly by phone for the most part. These days phone calls seem to be considered an unwelcome intrusion unless it’s a very urgent matter. In fact I have my phone set to be silenced to any number that isn’t recognized and the number will become recognized only if they leave a message and I return the call.

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  20. FDChief said on May 20, 2021 at 9:47 am

    In a post about soccer I described someone who was a long-time journeywoman (and had played for several different teams) as having “gypsied” around the league and got carpet bombed for using a racial slur.

    I had no idea that the term “gypsy” was out-of-bounds, but it is.

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  21. LAMary said on May 20, 2021 at 9:48 am

    I started hearing “reach out to” in the eighties when I moved to CA. My first boss here used it all the time and it sounded odd to me. Maybe he thought it sounded less hard edged? It made me think of the Four Tops whenever I heard it.

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  22. basset said on May 20, 2021 at 9:50 am

    One of the many joys of being retired is that I’m no longer asked to “take the lead” on something rather than to just do it – Mrs. B has not yet, for example, reminded me to take the lead on mitigating the long grass in our yard.
    And I suppose we should change the names of certain car parts, maybe to “director” and “actor”:

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  23. Dorothy said on May 20, 2021 at 10:32 am

    I’ve bitched about the Grandma thing here before but I’ll always think of how outright weird it was when my granddaughter was born, and when I joyfully shared the news, almost every single person said to me breathlessly: OOOH what do you want to be called?! I didn’t understand at first. I thought I’d just wait and see what the grandchild would call me. I love Grandma; I love Gram; I love Mimi (which is what she calls me). My sister Diane wants to be called Granny. For another person to criticize or ridicule someone else for their preferences is just dumb. It’s MYOB and GFY and GTFOOH in my mind.

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  24. Julie Robinson said on May 20, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Well I missed this whole discussion yesterday as we were hosting hateful uncle and increasingly hateful aunt from Iowa. We got through it but it wasn’t pleasant. And now, they’re gone and we may not have to see them again.

    As for nomenclature, I just ask people how they would be like to be called. I was in a zoom book club last summer and we had a he/them, which I stumbled over a couple of times, apologized for, and worked hard to correct. I do use enslaved because that’s what the Black authors I’ve read have preferred.

    When my sister was born, one grandmother declared she didn’t want to be called any derivation of that name, and we always called that set of grandparents by their first names. My mom didn’t want to be called grandma (she also doesn’t want to be called Mom, and just try to find a Mother’s Day card without it, I dare you). She chose Gram.

    If I ever get to be a grandma, I don’t care a whit what I’m called, I will just be thrilled to pieces. So if the baby’s parents want to choose a name for me, that’ll be fine.

    Oh yes, she also informed us she hated Sarah’s name and would call her Sunshine instead.

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  25. Bitter Scribe said on May 20, 2021 at 10:37 am

    Nancy, thanks for this! I too feel like things have gone too far sometimes, but I hate to say so most of the time because it makes me sound like one of those right-wing cranks.

    I guess I draw the line at people getting offended by things that no reasonable person could possibly interpret as offensive. Like “niggardly” as some kind of racial slur. Or demanding an apology from someone for making a hand gesture that you misinterpreted as the upside-down OK sign, even after the entirely non-racist reason for the gesture becomes clear.

    Yes, people have the right to be offended and to have their feelings respected. Up to a point. At some point, though, there has to be a right to respond, “You’re an ignorant, oversensitive ninny, and I decline to listen to you.”

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  26. Icarus said on May 20, 2021 at 10:52 am

    JILL @ 15: it’s probably easier for children for the same reason younger people take to a new technology faster than old farts; they don’t have to unlearn any “bad habits”.

    As for Cultural Appropriation, I’m sure it’s a thing but as Ed from Gin and Tacos said:

    We are slowly turning into a nation of college freshmen who learn a new means of criticizing something and then can’t wait to show off our new trick by applying it to literally everything.

    I don’t give a crap if a white guy is sporting dreadlocks and I’m sure 99% of POC don’t either. (or should that be BIPOC…the goalposts do shift a little on the left as well).

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  27. Sherri said on May 20, 2021 at 11:33 am

    I don’t understand what gone too far means hear. Sure, I understand that niggardly does not have an etymology as a racial slur (though gypsy does have.) But so what if some people are offended by it? You can think they shouldn’t be, but that’s generally not helpful.

    What’s happening is that we’re hearing new voices have the opportunity to be heard, and that’s a good thing. Sure, it may bring us a moment of discomfort, but I think we can manage that if we want to.

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  28. alex said on May 20, 2021 at 11:38 am

    Ah, “gypsy.” It kind of falls into the same territory as “chicano” in that “getting gypped” and “chicanery” are both slurs impugning the integrity of other races, but a lot of people grew up hearing these words without knowing the context. I had a college friend who grew up using the term “Jew ’em down” without understanding what he was saying until it was explained to him.

    I have an interesting history with “gypsy” because of my Hungarian grandmother. In Hungary, the Roma (or “gypsies”) are the out group. My grandmother, who never spoke good English, would use the term “gypsy” quite indiscriminately to describe any person of color or any disreputable-looking Caucasian, and even as a term of ridicule toward her own grandchildren if they were misbehaving, dirty or not dressed to her liking.

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  29. susan said on May 20, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    alex @28- People think “chicanery” relates to “Chicano”? That’s nuts and illiterate.

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  30. Jeff Borden said on May 20, 2021 at 1:18 pm

    To Sherri’s point about words that sound bad even though they are not, i.e., “niggardly,” I recall a flap several years ago when a white member of a school board overseeing a largely minority student body used it to describe the penny-pinching approach being taken. Hell rained down on the man from all sides.

    Was he wrong to use the word? Technically, no But there are numerous synonyms for niggardly that would not have generated the same reaction.

    When teaching public speaking, I quote the late James J. Kilpatrick, who wrote a column on writing for many years. He advised people to avoid exotic words or terminology when simpler terms would work fine. His point, in a nutshell, boils down to don’t be an arrogant asshole showing off your fabulous vocabulary.

    I love words and enjoy having instantaneous access to Google to look up those I don’t understand. (I found myself doing that frequently when reading “Four Lost Cities,” which uses a lot of insider terminology about archeology.) But the goal for a speaker (or a writer) should always be clarity.

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  31. David C said on May 20, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Way back when I worked in aviation electronics and one of our boxes had a switch that was labeled Master and Slave. We sold a bunch of them to Uganda and they wanted us to change that. We changed it to Normal and Remote.

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  32. alex said on May 20, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Susan, I just looked it up and you’re right. Chicano is a relatively new word, short for Mexicano. Chicanery comes from a French word. I’m pretty sure I first heard chicano/chicanery were no-no words in a workplace sensitivity training session in the 1980s or ’90s, and I’ve heard it since from others, so evidently it’s a trope that’s got some legs.

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  33. Suzanne said on May 20, 2021 at 2:43 pm

    Interesting discussion. I admit to being old and not understanding the whole gender fluidity thing exactly. I can’t say if how I feel matches my gender because I don’t know how anyone but me feels deep down inside or what a certain gender is supposed to feel like. How would I know if I feel closer to being male in gender because I don’t know how it feels to be a man.

    I also think a lot of people don’t think about certain sayings when they speak. A number of years ago, a co-worker used the phrase that someone tried to “Jew her down” as our Jewish co-worker looked on. Once she realized her mistake, she apologized profusely and the Jewish co-worker laughed it off, but it was quite awkward. A good lesson in do engage brain before mouth but I also know far too many people who would wonder why that saying would be offensive to anyone. I am not sure how to reach those people.

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  34. LAMary said on May 20, 2021 at 2:58 pm

    I remember chicane tracks for slot cars. It was a quick lane switch thing, a section of track where the two lanes crossed over in an x pattern, probably related to chicanery meaning sneaky switching or trickery.

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  35. nancy said on May 20, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    To further muddy the Chicano waters, I remember someone telling me a long long long time ago that Chicano (or Chicana) applied strictly to Mexican Americans, to distinguish them from other Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Central Americans, etc.

    No idea whether that’s true.

    And now that I write it down… maybe someone else told me that it only applies to first-generation children of immigrants? This is ringing an even more distant bell. Don’t take my word for it.

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  36. ROGirl said on May 20, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    I heard someone use “Jew him down” in my workplace once. I told her that wasn’t cool, and she responded, “I didn’t mean you.” Over the weekend I decided I needed to let her manager know about it on Monday. She came to me later that day and begged me not to get her fired, she had seen people lose their jobs for saying the wrong thing, she wasn’t prejudiced, she had had a Jewish boyfriend and his mother loved her. I told her I didn’t want her to lose her job, we were OK, but what she had said wasn’t OK.

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  37. LAMary said on May 20, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    “Chicano, feminine form Chicana, identifier for people of Mexican descent born in the United States. The term came into popular use by Mexican Americans as a symbol of pride during the Chicano Movement of the 1960s.”

    The Chicano movement started in the sixties and I haven’t encountered anyone who was offended by being called a Chicano if they are in fact a Chicano. Maybe I’m just hanging with cool people. I know Chicano studies is taught in colleges here. There are also Latin American studies classes, a different thing altogether. I know a couple of people who were very active in the Chicano movimento back in the late sixties-early seventies. My former city councilman for one, the husband of a woman who was in my drawing group for another. That guy is a movie producer. A lot of Latin American people in LA are not all Mexican. My son’s friends are Mexican-Salvadoran, Mexican-Guatamalan, Mexican-Belizan. They are not considered Chicanos. There’s also tension between Mexicans and Salvadorans because MS-13 guys tend to be Salvadoran and Mexicans think they give other Latin Americans a bad rap. The local Mexican gangs have been around a lot longer than MS-13, or at least most of them have. Then there’s this:”Cholo, feminine form chola, a young person who participates in or identifies with Mexican American gang subculture. The term, sometimes used disparagingly, is derived from early Spanish and Mexican usage and denotes marginalization.” Cholos are a whole other thing. Chola’s are said to use a Sharpie for eyebrow enhancement. I was told this by a Chicana. I am a viejita so what do I know.

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  38. Deborah said on May 20, 2021 at 6:01 pm

    Day 3 of the face cream, still doesn’t look much different but itches like crazy. The hat wearing is hard to remember, if I go outside to do something even if it’s just for a couple of minutes I have to plop on a hat.

    We are celebrating this evening, going out for sushi at a place with outdoor seating, to rejoice that LB is fully vaxed today, 2 shots and 2 weeks after the 2nd one.

    My husband lost his wedding ring at the cabin yesterday, he has reduced his weight considerably over the last 20 years and it’s been too big for him for a long while. He says he’ll get a new one when he gets back to Chicago. He was pitching something across the landscape and it just flew right off. My wedding rings are kinda big for me too, but my knuckles are swollen from arthritis so they can’t fly off like that.

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  39. LAMary said on May 20, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    While searching for a good photo of the Chola look I found this photo.

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  40. Colleen said on May 20, 2021 at 6:21 pm

    I had a coworker use “jew them down” in front of me once, and my face told her she’d made an error. I explained why that wasn’t acceptable, and she was cool….she honestly didn’t know it was offensive, being small town Indiana born and bred…

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  41. Indiana Jack said on May 20, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    One of my best friends in college was of Mexican descent, first generation born in the U.S.
    Though he was wary of labels, he preferred Chicano, partly because of its precision but also because it differentiated him from Puerto Ricans and other Spanish-speaking descendants from the islands.
    Why? He didn’t like to admit it, but skin color was a factor. The darker the skin, the greater the stigma. Chicano meant he was “lighter” than a Cuban or Puerto Rican.
    Similar distinctions can be found in India, where “white” skin is a plus and darker skin is a negative.
    Clearly, humanity has a long way to go before we admit to this bullshit and put it behind us.

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  42. Sherri said on May 20, 2021 at 6:29 pm

    “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”

    -Maya Angelou

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  43. LAMary said on May 20, 2021 at 6:50 pm

    Cubans can be really touchy about skin color. Some are purely Spanish and they look down at the mixed Spanish and Indigenous or mixed Spanish and black Cubans. A woman I know who is married to a Cuban man is very quick to mention that he’s 100% Spanish when she introduces him.

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  44. susan said on May 20, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    Deborah @38- Know anyone with a metal detector? Bet you could rent one. Might be cheaper than getting another ring.

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  45. Suzanne said on May 20, 2021 at 7:05 pm

    All this talk of language use leads me to this coincidental story.
    Tonight, my semi-pack rat husband is gone for a bit, and tomorrow is garbage day, so I ventured into the basement to open a few long closed boxes & pitch stuff with abandon. In one box, I found a copy of the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel from Friday, August 9, 1985. As I paged through, what do I see on page 1B? The column Telling Tales by Nancy Nall. The title of the column is “Don’t anyone know ‘English’?”

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  46. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 20, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    I look at stuff I wrote in 1985 and think . . . I’s sure I’ve grown and changed and I hope even matured a bit, but it’s also bracing and a little unnerving to realize how much of who I was then is still who I am. For some, as I suspect would be true for Nancy’s column, that wears better than for others of us.

    And in another 36 years? Well, maybe by then . . .

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  47. beb said on May 20, 2021 at 8:19 pm

    Basset@22 — The problem with master and slave cylinders in cars are echoed in the electronics field where your first hard drive was the “master” and the second was the “slave” (and had to be configured differently). As well as modules in software having a primary/secondary relationship. Some software organization have been working to eliminated racist terminology in their languages.

    The term that throws me is “non-binary.” Isn’t that the same as bisexual? Apparently not.

    And I sympathize with FDChief. {the rest of my comment echos what alex said @28] I’ve heard some form of “gypsy” used to describe people who wander from job to job. Migratory could describe just as well. Since I never had any contract with “gypsys” I’m tended to think of them as some kind of Eastern European hippy.

    By the time I started reading stories from the old pulp magazine I had realized how offense the phrase “That’s very white of you.” as well as “Free, White and 21.”

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  48. Sherri said on May 20, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    Meanwhile, all the anti-cancel culture warriors who were lamenting the death of civilization when, for example, Jeffery Toobin got fired for showing his dick in a business meeting, are all, hmmm, need more information when the NC Board of Governors refuses to give Nikole Hannah-Jones tenure for a position that everyone else appointed to has been given tenure and that the university wanted to give tenure to.

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  49. Deborah said on May 20, 2021 at 10:56 pm

    I use the term Hispanic when referring to people of Latin ethnicity. And by Latin I guess I mean Spanish speaking. When I was growing up in Miami we used the name of the country they came from, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Haitian etc. I don’t know how we knew the difference somehow.

    I remember being in Finland in 2009 and my husband used the term Gypsies when describing an encounter he had in Italy years earlier with young girls coming up to tourists and attempting to pick pockets and whoever he was telling the story to reprimanded him telling him the proper usage was Roma People.

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  50. Heather said on May 20, 2021 at 11:01 pm

    Went out to dinner with some friends tonight and one who just bought a new place mentioned the issue with “master bedroom,” which people interpret as referring to the slave master, but evidence for that seems slim to nonexistence. Now the preferred term is “primary bedroom.” This article points out that racism in real estate goes beyond nomenclature:

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  51. Dexter Friend said on May 21, 2021 at 2:31 am

    The northern migration which brought African Americans up from the south, mainly to Chicago, to work in factories in the first of the 20th century was a massive deal. Most of the migrants to Fort Wayne came from Alabama, specifically Birmingham. I became workmates with many of the Alabama men and women. I was relating a shopping expedition on Chicago’s Maxwell Street once, and my friend corrected me, saying that old (now all gone) area was called ‘Jew Town’. And he was right, just maybe 70 years too late. Maxwell Street Market was pure true folklore. I went there many times. You had your tools stolen on Saturday? Go Sunday on down to 15th Street and buy them back, was the mantra.
    Living on an army base in 1970 which sat on the rim of the “world’s salad bowl”, the Salinas Valley, famous mostly for lettuce, exposed my senses to Cesar Chavez and his United Farm Workers’ struggles. The grape boycott ensured a huge delivery of table grapes to our mess halls, the lettuce boycotts likewise brought in truckloads of lettuce, just to work against the UFW’s efforts. We knew what was going on; many of us soldiers boycotted the grapes and lettuce in solidarity. Cesar Chavez was a Chicano, buy the way…a proud Chicano.

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  52. Alan Stamm said on May 21, 2021 at 8:39 am

    A day after this went up, a 2021-22 performance brochure from an Ann Arbor nonprofit landed with these sentences in a ‘Looking Forward’ intro from its president:

    “Over this past year, the staff and board have focused on becoming an organization committed to racial equity and justice, and to being actively anti-racist in our work and in iour organization’s culture. We acknowledge the learning and work ahead…”

    Noble, overdue and over the top. That last sentence, really. Why?

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