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 is better to know what not to say to whom. Here is a quick primer 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, I wouldn’t walk into a multiracial store and order ‘Heinz’ as the company’s ‘57 varieties’ slogan is manifestly a disdainful surrogate for people of the mixed race.

    Coded abbreviations are a favourite too. Any normal Tamilian would think SPIC is a fertilizer 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 quite 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 539 as it corresponds to J-E-W on a phone. Lastly, if you encounter someone from Musharraf-land in Britain, never say ‘Pac Man’ unless you wish to cool your heels in prison.

    -Anantha Narayan

    Spotted any ingenious racial slur? Hurl it at  anantha@albertdali.com.

    Illustration  : Tapas Ranjan


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