by Michael H. Burchett
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Origins of American Racial and Ethnic Slurs" Series
When I began posting these pages in September 2000, I had no idea that they would become so popular. It appears, however, that a great many people are hungry for knowledge of how these terms came into being and evolved into their current infamous incarnations. Such information is hard to come by in a society that is understandably squeamish about these words and paranoid about the consequences of discussing them in light of the recent phenomenon of "political correctness." But given my relative obscurity and scholarly independence, I care little of such things. I seek only the truth, and the truth is not always pretty. So proceed with the following caveat in mind, and never be afraid to feed your head.
NOTE: The purpose of these pages is to provide a scholarly perspective on an unpleasant but pervasive phenomenon in American culture. Some of the words discussed below are quite offensive, yet it is hoped that this article may serve to demystify them somewhat by revealing their humble and often benign origins.
THIS PAGE IS NOT INTENDED TO PROMOTE, CONDONE, OR EXCUSE THE USE OF THESE WORDS IN ANY WAY. Parents and educators are advised to exercise discretion in the use of this material for educational purposes.
Part I: "nigger, "wetback," "wop," "honky," "fag/faggot," "nip"
Part II: "kike," "coolie," "dyke," "hick/hillbilly," "pickaninny," "spic"
Part III: "dago," "bohunk," "chink," "dink," "limey," "polack," "poofter," "slope"
Part IV: "bolilio," "gringo," "guinea," "shine," "spook"
Part V: "hillbilly," "cracker," "redneck," "moolie"
Part VI: "sheeny," "mockey," "moke," "Georgia blue-gum," "wigger"
Notes on the 20th Century is produced by The New Terraplane: moving toward the future with an eye on the past.
This page is updated (approximately) semi-monthly: visit here again for more essays, quizzes, quotes, and other information on twentieth-century America.
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Copyright © 1999-2002 Michael H. Burchett