Home Columns Anantha Narayan Simply Slur-real

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    In 2012, a cop was fired in America for shouting out a racial slur at baseball star Carl Crawford. Believe it or not: he was sacked for using the word Monday. Innocuous as it may sound, apparently ‘Monday’ is a cryptic put-down used for blacks by white supremacists. Their logic being: nobody likes Mondays.

    In an ultra-touchy universe where the politically incorrect are hastily labelled as racist and bigoted, it’s better to know what not to say to whom. That’s why I’ve put together a quick primer to get you clued into the secret world of ethnic insults.

    When in an Asian joint, never utter the word ‘Oreo’. The famous cream cookie can get you crunched, licked and creamed as it’s a snide way of saying ‘Oriental’. Never ask for ‘Pepsi’ aloud while in Quebec, as the fizzy drink is supposedly a vile taunt at French Canadians who are ‘empty from the neck up’. Also, if I were you, I wouldn’t walk into a multi-racial store and order for ‘Heinz’ as the company’s ’57 varieties’ slogan is manifestly a disdainful surrogate for people of the mixed race.

    Coded abbreviations are a favourite with racists. Any normal Tamilian would think SPIC is a fertiliser company from Chennai. But in the USA, it’s a scornful acronym for Hispanics derived from Spanish, Indian and Coloured. UFO is far worse. It’s likely to alienate you from fellow Asians as it means ‘Ugly Frigging Oriental’. Likewise, MD is not the doctor you think. It’s a dig at the white man for being ‘Melanin Deficient’.

    Even regular fruit names sometimes take the avatar of invectives. ‘Coconut’ implies an Indian who is brown on the outside and white on the inside. ‘Apple’ is a dig at those Native Americans who seem red, but have a white core. ‘Banana’ applies the same analogy to the yellow skinned.
    ‘Cookie’ (an allusion to the Chinese fortune cookie), ‘Burger’ (the collective noun for Jewish names that end with ‘burg’), and ‘Bacardi’ (the rum that gets made in Puerto Rico) act as ethnic pejoratives as well.

    ‘Double A’ (African Americans), ‘Eight Ball’ (the colour of the 8-ball in pool), and ‘November’ (the N-word in the phonetic alphabet) are Monday-like words best avoided in a ghetto.
    With Jews, steer clear of rhyming words and the number 539 as it corresponds to J-E-W on a phone. And lastly, if you encounter someone from Musharraf-land in Britain, never say ‘Pac Man’ unless you wish to cool your heels in a prison.

    -Anantha Narayan


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