Here’s a blog post I just came cross, from AdAge.com, that adds to the dialogue on the use of the word “uppity” to describe African Americans.
Pepper Miller points out that some African Americans take the use of “elitist” to describe Barack Obama as code for “uppity”:
As another example, WVON-AM Chicago talk-show host Perri Small nailed the rationale for black frustration over charges of Sen. Obama’s “elitist” attitude during an appearance on CNN last month. Ms. Small explained that many in the black community took “elitist” to mean “uppity,” a particularly troublesome translation as the term “uppity” dates back to pre-Civil Rights and the Jim Crow era. Despite progress in the black community, “uppity” continues to be perceived as code for blacks who do not “stay their place.”
My pal Leland Rucker and I had a discussion about my earlier post and he explained why he didn’t think my choice of using Sen. Daniel Inouye in an example of a potential use of the word “sneaky” worked for him. I wasn’t clear enough that since I had grown up hearing the phrase “sneaky Jap,” that if I ever heard the word “sneaky” used to describe ANY Asian or Asian American, I’d get a knot in my stomach.
He thought I wanted to ban the word “sneaky,” as well as the word “uppity” from ever being used. That’s not the case, I replied. It’s all about the context. He agreed that the next word that comes immediately to mind after the word “uppity” is the “n” word.
That’s where I make my case: Don’t you think that someone who works for a major national news network should have enough presence of mind to be aware of the history and context of such words, and know when not to use them?