Mike the Mad Biologist

Because why offend one group of people, when you can offend two at the same time? From Chet Scoville:

It appears that “Canadian” is a new racial epithet in America; it’s now a code word for black.

Don’t believe me? Take a look:

Last August, a blogger in Cincinnati going by the name CincyBlurg reported that a black friend from the southeastern U.S. had recently discovered that she was being called a Canadian. “She told me a story of when she was working in a shop in the South and she overheard some of her customers complaining that they were always waited on by a Canadian at that place. She didn’t understand what they were talking about and assumed they must be talking about someone else,” the blogger wrote.

“After this happened several times with different patrons, she mentioned it to one of her co-workers. He told her that ‘Canadian’ was the new derogatory term that racist Southerners were using to describe persons they would have previously referred to [with the N-word.]”

A similar case in Kansas City was reported last year on a Listserv, or electronic mailing list, used by linguistics experts. A University of Kansas linguist said that a waitress friend reported that “fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. ‘Hey, we have a table of Canadians…. They’re all yours.’ ”

Stefan Dollinger, a postdoctoral fellow in linguistics at University of British Columbia and director of the university’s Canadian English lab, speculated that the slur reflects a sense of Canadians as the other.

I.e., not one of us: not American.

I guess this would be a bad time to point out that some of my best friends are Canadians….

Oh, and post-racist America? My posterior.

Related post: More examples of the bigotry here.

Comments

  1. #1 paul01
    January 29, 2008

    Oh good. Now I don’t have to tip in the US.

  2. #2 Owen
    January 29, 2008

    Wait, I don’t understand. If Obama’s from Canada, then… he can’t be president… right?

    Quothe the District Attorney:
    “If I had, I would never send that out in an office-wide e-mail that’s going to go to people who are going to be offended if they recognize it as such”

    Strangely enough, I think somebody who really wasn’t a racist would’ve said “I would never send that out in an e-mail” and leave it at that.

  3. #3 Scott Belyea
    January 29, 2008

    Gee, I would have thought that most of us in the Great White North would be paler than average due to lack of sun, cold, and eternal snow.

    Mind you, it does raise the tricky question of how to refer to a black Canadian. I listened recently to a documentary about Oscar Peterson as part of the programming to commemorate his recent death. I don’t recall that anyone called him a “Canadian” on those JATP tours through the US south. :-)

  4. #4 slim
    January 29, 2008

    My Mom (who was born Canadian!) used to refer to African Americans as “eskimos” and Jews as “hawaiians,” thinking that that would keep us from growing up prejudiced against African Americans and Jews. It sort of begs the question why she’d even have to change the names to protect the innocent if what she was saying was not racist.

    For my youngest sister, it just confused the hell out of her. We lived in Florida; where were all these eskimos and hawaiians Mom was talking about? Some people go through amazing contortions to hide or justify their racism, even if it’s just at the level of extreme discomfort with the “other.”

    The capper: about 10 years ago we found out that my father’s family was Jewish. They lied at Ellis Island (many of the family members left in the Sudatenland died in Theresienstadt).

    So, guess what, Mom? Your kids are all half hawaiian!

  5. #5 Troy
    January 29, 2008

    Couldn’t they be referring to the fact that the underground railroad ended in Canada? I vaguely remember hearing some stupidity a while back from one of the white supremacy groups about deporting non-whites to Canada. Of course that might be too philosophical for your average bigot so it may just be double talk.

  6. #6 Graculus
    January 29, 2008

    Couldn’t they be referring to the fact that the underground railroad ended in Canada?

    Ths makes more sense…

    “fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip”

    My fellow Canadians are notoriously bad tippers in the US. I think many of us don’t realize how little waitstaff get paid down there.

  7. #7 John McKay
    January 29, 2008

    My Dad said that when he grew up in Montana in the thirties his father used “French” (i.e. French Canadian) as a more polite term than “half breed” for Native American-Europeans (metis). My grandfather was born in Ontario so I’m not sure if this relates or just muddies the issue.

  8. #8 Dave Briggs
    January 29, 2008

    I guess this would be a bad time to point out that some of my best friends are Canadians….

    That’s nice, whatever meaning you are using! LOL! It sounds like the people have come up with a new twist on the “we,” “they” scenario that is also more PC, in a code. I wonder what algorithm they used to get it? LOL!
    Dave Briggs :~)

  9. #9 Julie Stahlhut
    January 29, 2008

    Should we all start referring to bigots as “Sumerians?” You know, like in Dave Barry’s speculation on what the first ethnic joke was like:

    Q. “Did you hear about the Sumerian?”
    A. “No.”
    Q. “He was extremely stupid! Ha ha ha!”
    A. “No, I had not heard about him.”

  10. #10 Left_Wing_Fox
    January 29, 2008

    Graculus: I think that’s accurate. Wait-staff here in Canada are paid hourly wages subject to federal minimums, so a “tip” is generally considered the bonus for good service. I didn’t realize waiters in the US were paid through tips until a couple of years back, despite having family in the US.

    It’s actually pretty appalling to me that a significant portion of the wait-staff’s pay is so voluntary. =/

  11. #11 bad Jim
    January 29, 2008

    Well, at least they aren’t calling them “Canucks.”

    As for tipping: you’re shortchanging the waitstaff if you leave less than 18%. It has to be considered part of the bill in the U.S. It’s a damned shame that we assume that so many jobs don’t deserve a decent wage, but it’s a fact and it’s our duty to ameliorate it.

    It’s so deeply ingrained in me that in Europe, where I know that the staff gets a decent wage and benefits, I still feel compelled to leave at least 10%.

  12. #12 şişme bebek
    June 8, 2009

    As for tipping: you’re shortchanging the waitstaff if you leave less than 18%. It has to be considered part of the bill in the U.S. It’s a damned shame that we assume that so many jobs don’t deserve a decent wage, but it’s a fact and it’s our duty to ameliorate it.

  13. #13 seks shop
    June 18, 2009

    Stefan Dollinger, a postdoctoral fellow in linguistics at University of British Columbia and director of the university’s Canadian English lab, speculated that the slur reflects a sense of Canadians as the other