Packaging Label Describes Sofa Color As "Nigger-brown"

Doris Moore’s seven year-old daughter did not understand a racial slur affixed to the packaging label of a newly delivered sofa. The sofa was purchased as part of a set that included a loveseat and chair. All three items bore the offensive label. The Toronto Star recounts the heart-wrenching discovery:

“She’s very curious and she started reading the labels,” Moore explained. “She said, `Mommy, what is nig … ger brown?’ I went over and just couldn’t believe my eyes.”

After explaining the slur’s meaning to her daughter, Doris tried to pry a well-deserved explanation from Vanaik Furniture and Mattress, the store that sold the seating set. Despite three messages, the store refused to return her calls.

The store’s Assistant Manager apologized when found by the Canadian press and promised to check his remaining stock for similar offenses, but placed the blame squarely with his supplier. The supplier promised to contact his Chinese manufacturer and “demand they remove all similar labels.”

The demand is appreciated, but we want to know if the unnamed Chinese manufacturer shipped merchandise bearing offensive labels to other stores, or if the incident is limited to one Canadian family and their seven year-old daughter. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Racial slur on sofa label stuns family [Toronto Star] (Thanks to J and Fred)

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  1. timmus says:

    Well, it would be one thing if the store tried to work it out with her, but not returning calls until the media came knocking is pretty pathetic and makes me wonder about the credibility of the Chinese manufacturer story.

  2. Skylar says:

    It’s a Chinese manufacturer. Of course you’re not going to get in touch with them.

    Those guys act like they speak a whole different language or something.

  3. It could be a direct translation of the (I would think similarly offensive, if anybody paid attention) French “Tete de negre”, meaning a deep polished brown. That’s apparently still in somewhat common use.

    Googling the term in English and French shows it up here and there. And will also teach you about a famous Australian rugby player

  4. thesavvyboomer says:

    Having lived in China, I can tell you there are a lot of racist signs, labels, personal comments etc. It just isn’t much of an issue there. Actually it’s kind of like the ageist remarks that are made on web sites and blogs in North America. It’s wrong, but no one seems to give it much thought-yet.
    I posted about this on my blog and as much as I love the Consumerist, it did make an ageist comment recently.
    http://www.thesavvyboomer.com/the_savvy_boomer/2007/04/2_m

  5. Chris says:

    Yes, let’s everybody forget about racism for a minute and turn our attention to the terrible scourge of mildly-age-insensitive language, and the long-oppressed and ignored Baby Boom generation. They’ve suffered in silence far too long.

  6. thesavvyboomer says:

    @Chris: This has nothing to do with the boomer generation-this is about ageist remarks, which like racist remarks are unacceptable and should not be tolerated in North American society. Perhaps you missed that class.

  7. Sudonum says:

    @thesavvyboomer:
    What the hell is “ageist” about the phrase “clueless parent”? BTW, I will be 50 this year and have 2 step-children. And yes, sometimes I am clueless. As are a lot of people of all age groups.

  8. KevinQ says:

    According to the article, they purchased the furniture “last week,” and if they’ve got it already, it seems they bought stock merchandise, and not special order, so it seems unlikely that this was the result of malice. More likely, that’s just what the Chinese manufacturer calls that color. In many foreign countries the word doesn’t have the baggage that it has in the U.S. (Or Canada, for that matter.)

    I was listening to a show on NPR the other day, and the guest had written a book about “The N-Word,” and he talked about an African-American who was visiting a country in Africa, and saw a shop that was named after that word. Big letters, right on the front of the building. When the shop owner heard the visitor’s American accent, he was so thrilled to actually have a real “n-word” in his store. For him, the word just didn’t have the weight that it does for Americans.

    Also, @Chris: I laughed. I’m sure there’s some way that referring to people as “clueless parents” is offensive, but I’m unable to wrap my feeble, youthful brain around how.

    K

  9. The Bigger Unit says:

    Yeah, calling someone an “old fogey” definitely equates to dropping the N-bomb. Riiiight.

  10. sondheadlc says:

    I don’t see the big deal! It’s not like they called her that. It is a poor translation of a word by the Chinese. There’s a million unfortunate translation stories. Someone should contact them the company and tell them to change it, but I don’t think this is a situation where someone named the couch out of racism.

  11. Brian Gee says:

    @KevinQ: I’m pretty sure “clueless” is pretty straightforward as an insult. I’m just not sure how the savvydouchebag is inferring age from cluelessness.

  12. adrianm says:

    When I was a kid – I was born in the early sixties, – I think every female relative had a roll of cotton in their sewing boxes bearing the name “nigger brown”, it was a color catalogued by most of the cotton and fabric manufacturers, This was in the UK.
    I suspect that many Chinese companies in their attempts to appeal to western customers are referring to western catalogues and descriptions -some apparently out of date and now considered offensive.
    I don’t think the manufacturer was trying to offend anyone, it is just unfortunate that in their attempts to conform to western standards that they have reflected our own attitudes of what was “acceptable” in the not too distant past.

  13. jendomme says:

    It’s interesting to read the reactions of people when it comes to racial slurs. I often hear African Americans using the term nigger colloquially. This usage colloquially, of course, sets a double standard. They are essentially trying to hi-jack the meaning/usage of a term with a derogatory meaning. While laudable in concept, it falls on its face in practice.

    If people dislike the use of such terms, then a society must collectively stop using the term altogether and essentially remove it from modern vocabulary. Until the time comes when the gang-banger, urban hip-hop types stop calling one another by that term as if it is acceptable, the word will continued to be use.

    As far as getting other countries, especially China, to stop using such terms, good luck.

  14. kenposan says:

    As wrong as it is, that’s the problem when you are translating from one language to another. I am sure the Chinese manufacturer was using the “N” word in a more appropriate way, as noted above by Skylar and Rutter.

    Here’s an example of “Engrish”: http://www.engrish.com/

  15. cgi5877 says:

    So, nobody is going to go after Vanaik Furniture and Mattress? C’mon people, I want phone call and email transcripts to make these bigot saps look like the bigot saps they are. They’re probably old too–I couldn’t help myself, I mean seriously!

  16. Sonnymooks says:

    I hate saying this, but in not western countires i.e. outside of America, canada and most of europe, the “N word” does not carry the same level of offensiveness and the people do not have the same sensitivity about it. In china, they could not care less if that word bothers someone unless they believed using it is somehow economically harmfull.

    It would be nice to see more racial or any kind of sensitivity across the globe, but at this time and point, alot of people have no problem using that word as a description or using sterotypes or other things that we might find offensive to describe or sell things and most of them just laugh at any critizism of such practises.

  17. hubris says:

    @jendomme:

    There’s on the ground difference between “nigger” and “nigga”, which is the term used by most black people. Nigger still has derogatory connotations whereas nigga is the attempt to reclaim the word.

    And I heartily disagree that the word needs to stop being used. Like a lot of things, it has to do with context. If it’s a rap song nigga has a much different meaning than if it’s at a KKK rally. Same way homosexuals can use the word fag without causing offense, but if it’s hurled as an epithet it’s unacceptable.

  18. PZR says:

    The store’s explanation sounds plausible.

    Yet, my bullsh-t radar is detecting a possible trend on the horizon: if your company does something stupid, just blame it on a Chinese supplier.

  19. spanky says:

    I seriously doubt that the N-word is in common use in China. Seeing as how it’s an English word and all.

    It seems far more likely that they’re just translating using a colloquial dictionary, and just don’t realize it’s offensive.

    I don’t know how accurate this is, but it’s a good story and it’s relevant, so I’m repeating it: Apparently, the Chinese word for ‘dried’ is the same as the word for ‘do.’ So translators using colloquial dictionaries will often translate the wrong definition of the ‘do/dried’ word, and in a colloquial dictionary, ‘fuck’ is listed as being synonymous with ‘do.’ So they end up with describing things as “fuck noodle” and “mushroom fuck.” There’s even a picture somewhere on the internets of a grocery store with an aisle of “Assorted Fuck.”

  20. Bookish says:

    Jabari Asim has a great new book out, The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t and Why, that addresses the issues jendomme and omerhi raise. He contends that the word has no place in the public realm unless used in art or journalism, but can be used privately under certain conditions. I think the word should not be used privately by white people under any circumstances, so I disagree w/ a portion of his argument. But the book is well-written and researched. You can check him out on The Colbert Report.
    http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_colbert_report/auth

  21. Blackneto says:

    Just recalling a old Crayola color and my confusion as a kid when i held it up to my brown skin to compare.
    the chinese obviously mislabled that couch.

    the label shout have had “Flesh” as the color.

  22. jendomme says:

    I agree that there can be subtle differences between the use of “nigger” vs. “nigga”. Nonetheless it is the use of term with derogatory connotations. If people think it is acceptable to use terms with such double standards, then surely they cannot complain about other double standards. You don’t hear Jewish people calling one another heebs. Why would one think it is acceptable to hear black people calling one another nigga. Doesn’t seem to make sense.

  23. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @jendomme: Oh boy, thanks for figuring out the solution to the black community’s problems! I’m sure they’ll be ever so grateful.

  24. Gopher bond says:

    No one said that ageist remarks were equal to racist remarks. That poster was telling us that, having lived in China, his/her experience was that words and phrases that would be considered extremely racist in the US, carry the same weight as we in the US look at ageist remarks, i.e. not likely to cause much of a stir. Sheesh, learn to read.

  25. mantari says:

    I personally would love to have a couch that says, “cracker white” or “honkey off-white”, or something. It would be an awesome conversation piece! “Have you seen my racist couch? Here, have a seat…”

  26. dubitable says:

    @jendomme: What?

    http://www.heebmagazine.com/

  27. Scazza says:

    @spanky: You have clearly never been to japan. Half of their advertising and TV is in broken english or contains popular english words…

    As for the difference between Nigger and Nigga, thats bullshit. Taking an supposedly offensive word (one thats offensive to you no less), and adding a slight different spelling is bullshit. I can just see it now, Spaks, Crackaz, Koontz, Jewas… seriously, either way, it has the same meaning, you can’t hide it…

  28. Hexum2600 says:

    @jendomme: No…. but we do call each other kikes. All the time.

  29. Hexum2600 says:

    Ageist has to be the most illiterate derogatory term ever constructed. Ageist? are you serious?

    Are people also skin-colorist and maybe heightists or tallists if they don’t like short people?

    Or how about religionist comments… those can be prejudice against people based on religion .

    *SHEESH*

  30. synergy says:

    I would also like to know if anyone else has come across this color description. You’d think more than one customer would’ve noticed. That label looks like something I could type up and print from my computer.

    @mantari: Would it have red accented arm and neck rests? :D

  31. Maulleigh says:

    yeah, my money’s on the Chinese. They still have darkie toothpaste and stuff.

  32. darktruth says:

    Other issues aside, I don’t but this whole shirking of responsibility by the store owner. Shouldn’t somebody along the way have realized what color was listed for this sofa? I mean either in ordering, receiving or displaying it? That information would certainly be on an inventory or on receiving information.

    I am also curious as to whether others have noticed this label. It seems suspect, however the fact that the store owner isn’t even trying to deny the validity of this claim is suspect too.

  33. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I think thesavvyboomer is just here to plus his/her website.

  34. alhypo says:

    This really isn’t a big deal. No manufacturer or distributer would intentionally put such an offensive label on an item. This is almost certainly a translation error or merely a cultural idiosyncracy. If you’re offended by this I dare say you are being far too sensitive.

    And for the “ageist” discussion: since when does “parent” in anyway denote a person of a particular age? Parents range in age from about 10- to 120-years old.

  35. joemono says:

    I must admit that I am more interested in the “ageist” discussion. I thought I had read it all, but apparently not.

    Here’s a question: if ‘racist means’ you’re someone who thinks less of other races, and ‘ageist’ means you think less of other ages, what does ‘consumerist’ mean?

    And isn’t “clueless parents” more of a familyist comment, rather than ageist?

  36. The Bigger Unit says:

    I blame Michael Richards.

  37. PDQ says:

    I wonder if the Chinese sofa manufacturer also has a color called “Wheat Gluten with Melamine”

  38. faust1200 says:

    I think black people are setting themselves back by saying -gger -gga. To say there’s a difference between the two words is silly. They’re “taking the word back?” Why wouldn’t they want to leave it for dead? Anyway, I would imagine some fancy civil rights lawyer might step up for this woman, pro bono which could possibly end up in some type of settlement. Certainly so, if she were in the states.

  39. spanky says:

    @Scazza:
    Yes, languages often borrow words from other languages. But non-native speakers don’t necessarily understand the connotations of the words they’re adopting.

    Asian cultures can be pretty openly racist at times, but it seems more likely that it’s a translation problem than it is that a company doing regular overseas business is unaware of those cultural differences.

  40. madderhatter says:

    Civil rights lawyer ? That’s ridiculous. Nobody called her that or forced her to buy the sofa for that matter. What next … suing every website you see the N word ? Now I guess I have a leg to stand on if I want to sue Walmart for selling me those “cracker white” socks. Wait, I can’t do that, I’m Native American.

    The lady needs to just get over it and quit looking for a handout around every corner.

  41. dbeahn says:

    If the word is SOOOOO offensive to African Americans, then why is it I’m forced, on a regular basis, to hear it blared at high volume at traffic lights, in parking lots, etc? I can’t go anywhere anymore without ending up hearing some hip-hop or rap tune being played in a car close to me at some point during the day where the lyrics are something like this: “My (n-word) was down with this fine (n-word) bitch!” or “(n-word) please, we was all (n-word) in the hood” or some other variation on one of those themes.

    It’s getting to the point that no one gives that word any weight because it’s been so over used. Kinda like the word “bitch”. It used to be a HUGELY derogatory term, but it’s been diluted to nothing – and in large part by the same hip-hop and rap genre that is now doing the same thing to the n-word.

    Personally, I’d LOVE to have a “Honky White” or “Mick Green” anything – I’m proud of my heritage (and let’s not forget that the Irish Catholics were slaves in North America for hundereds of years as well:
    http://www.rootsweb.com/~fianna/history/ “by 1656 over 60,000 Irish Catholic slaves had been sent to Barbados”. It was still legal to capture and sell Irish Catholics as slaves until 1829!)

    Oh well….

  42. poornotignorant says:

    Wish people would be more offended about african americans killing african americans. Philly’s looking at another 400+ dead this year. Many because an african american was offended by another african american. Any of you obviously well educated posters have any solutions to that?

  43. cgmaetc says:

    When to comes to whites using the n-word as casually as blacks, of course it’s a double standard! No, you can’t say it, and no, it doesn’t make any sense.

    Don’t you guys watch South Park? You just don’t get it…

  44. erock0 says:

    @poor ????? that was totally irrelevant. this is such a horrible flame war it’s hard to fathom. leave ur politics at home and stop trying to change everyone’s world view. personally i found it funny that they likened a couch color to that, considering how many different colors it could be. big deal, whites have their crayon and Africans have a couch. the yellow man are getting their revenge now for the hardship we made them endure.

  45. Gloria says:

    The thing I find remarkable is how many of the comments here generalize about this thing called the “African-American community.” Isn’t it terribly possible that there is a divide even among African-Americans themselves about the use of this word, perhaps some who endorse it, and some who find it patently offensive, maybe even regardless of the colour of the person says it?

    Some cite the use of the n-word in rap and hip-hop as proof of universal endorsement of its use by the black community … is this woman a rapper or hip hop artist? I mean, she’s black, right?

    Could a community actually consist of individuals, from hugely varying economic and social backgrounds, with different thoughts and opinions, united only by the colour of their skin?

    Nah…

  46. cgmaetc says:

    What’s racist is that picture of the woman that keeps floating around my screen, following me no matter how far down I scroll, taunting me… what are you trying to say, consumerist?

  47. EtherealStrife says:

    @Bookish:
    I think the word should not be used privately by white people under any circumstances

    What a wonderfully racist comment. I hope what you meant to say was, “I think the word should not be used privately by ANY people under any circumstances.”

    Either everyone stops using the word, or everyone uses it unconditionally. Anything else is racist.

    @dbeahn:

    “My (n-word) was down with this fine (n-word) bitch!”

    My female dog takes offense with your sexist and speciesist word choice.

  48. poornotignorant says:

    @erock0: It’s relevant because in my experience african americans have such a chip on their shoulder because almost anything can offend, to the point of killing to recapture one’s pride. Or to blame every white person they come in contact with for their plight, so they feel justified for trying to get something for nothing.

  49. SRSco says:

    Nigga v. Nigger “2 Completely different words!”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XURRzofbMc0

  50. sncreducer says:

    @ jendomme & dbeahn:

    So, because SOME black people use the n-word or listen to music that uses the n-word, ALL black people have lost the right to complain about its use? Go sit in the back of the class and put on your dunce caps, both of you.

    @ Jerry Stout:

    There’s nothing in this post or the Star’s article suggesting that Moore is “looking for a handout” in this case or “around every corner.” You really should learn to read the articles in question before you toss out blatantly racist statements like that.

    @ poornotignorant:

    Wow. That’s a world-class non sequitur. I’m sure that black people everywhere thank you for using your magical powers of perception to decide their priorities for them.

    Of course, considering that you’ve already admitted that you’re “PREDJUDICED(sic) against many african americans because they are so nasty and angry towards me,” I’m not surprised.

    You’ve had run-ins with nasty, angry African-Americans, so you’ve decided that they’re all like that? Are you telling me you’ve never met nasty, angry white people? Hispanic people? Asian people? Gay people? Rich people? Poor people?

    Basing your dislike of an entire race of people – notably only ONE race of people – on your personal experiences alone is indeed prejudiced, in the truest sense of the word:

    2. The act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments or convictions.
    3. Irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion.

    Don’t wear your ignorance like a badge.

  51. sncreducer says:

    @poornotignorant:

    You’ve crossed over into blind racial hatred. Consumerist, can we get a commenter execution over here?

    Certainly, the (hundreds?) of African-Americans you’ve met in your 7 years living in Philly are representative of the 35 million or so living in the United States. Brilliant logic there, son.

  52. dbeahn says:

    @Gloria: As Burke said, The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

    What Americans see is the incredible success of hip-hop and rap. Is the incredible growth of that culture due to the huge controversy it generates over it’s endorsement (buy use and over use of) the n-word? I haven’t seen any news of any African American organizations declaring that a boycott should be started to protest this trend, let alone any indications that such a boycott has had any impact what so ever on that industry.

    So, yes – when the most visable and vocal part of that community blasts that word in so much of it’s material, and no one inside that community stands up and screams they’re offended by it, it qualifies as a tacit endorsement of what is being said and done.

    Personally, I’m tired of being told that because I’m white, I’m somehow responsible for this situation. My ancestors were slaves. My direct ancestors – great grand parents – came to America well after slavery had been abolished in this country. On top of that, you expect me to care one bit about a word that is as common in black-produced entertainment as the word beer is in country music?

    So the word used 35 times in a 3 minute song is OK, but if it’s mis-translated by some Chinese company that makes couches it’s incredibly offensive? Explain to me please how that can be the case. Why isn’t she taking to task Russell Simmons? Or BET? Or MTV? Or Snoop Dogg?

  53. sncreducer says:

    @dbeahn:

    Your comment is filled with ridiculous overgeneralizations based on your very limited knowledge.

    I haven’t seen any news of any African American organizations declaring that a boycott should be started to protest this trend.

    You need to read more. For starters, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton both came out in the wake of the Michael Richards incident to state that both black and white people should not be using the word. Go ask Oprah how she feels about the use of the word – she won’t even allow rappers on her show (to be fair, it would seem that use of the n-word is only one of the issues at work there).

    What Americans see is the incredible success of hip-hop and rap.

    You see what you want to see (and I’m an American, so please don’t let your ignorant ass presume to speak on my behalf). If you listened to hip-hop, you’d know that there are plenty of artists who don’t use the word on purpose. But I guess it’s easier just to point to 50 Cent and Dr. Dre than it is to accept that not all black people think alike.

    … no one inside that community stands up and screams they’re offended by it…”

    See above re: Jackson and Sharpton, then go Google “C. DoLores Tucker” and say that again.

    … a word that is as common in black-produced entertainment as the word beer is in country music …”

    Really? Are you some kind of scholar of black-produced entertainment? No, you’re just generalizing based on your obviously limited knowledge. Again.

    Why isn’t she taking to task Russell Simmons? Or BET? Or MTV? Or Snoop Dogg?

    How do you know she’s not?

    It’s amazing how many people on this post seem to be just searching desperately for any reason to excuse the language in question, and how most of them fall back on the “some black people use it, so all of them should be OK with it” argument.

    cgmaetc was right.

    Don’t you guys watch South Park? You just don’t get it…

  54. Terek Kincaid says:

    Holy crap, she goes nuts just seeing the word “Nigger”? Man alive, cowboy up! It’s not like the store called her a nigger or anything. If you get offended just seeing a word like that, go build a bomb shelter and crawl in it. We say a person “takes offense” for a reason: you have to take another person’s comments and emotionally attach them to yourself and internalize to become offended. It is an active process on the part of the “offended”. Any ignorant jackass can say whatever he wants; God bless America and the First Amendment. I have every right to stand here and say “I hate niggers, they are ruining this country” [disclaimer: I don't believe that, I'm playing devil's advocate here]. But he is just that, and ignorant jackass. I you are hurt by the words of a moron, you need to grow a pair and move on. Hypersensitivity will just make you unhappy. There will always be ignorant jackasses that will be there to get under your skin. They win if they piss you off. Laugh at them or ignore them or whatever. I laugh out loud if I ever get called a cracker. It’s stupid. Nigger is the same way. Grow up or go live in a cave so you never have to hear it again.

  55. OnoSideboard says:

    Wow, this whole thread needs to be deleted, post haste. I just wasted twenty minutes of my life reading, like, 5 insightful comments and 44 little boxes of verbal diarrhea.

    @jendomme: I know a lot of Jewish people who jokingly refer to themselves and other Jews as “heebs.” I also know a lot of people of Mexican descent who jokingly refer to themselves as “brown” or some other phrase that would be entirely inappropriate coming from someone not Mexican. I, as a woman, have no problem refering to myself as a “bitch,” or telling a girlfriend “I love it, you are such a bitch!” But if some guy calls me a bitch for taking his parking spot, I will flip out. It’s called reclaiming hurtful words, and all kinds of people who are the subject of hate-speech do it. It does help to take the sting out of real hate-speech… but it doesn’t justify it, for chrissakes. When someone who has never been the target of particular hate-speech uses that hate-speech, it is intended to be malicious and hurtful, and that is the problem.

    How hard is that to understand?

  56. dbeahn says:

    @sncreducer: Wow, it’s amazing that you seem to think making a post full of nothing but personal attacks can somehow make up for your lack of any supporting arguments.

    Sure, Jesse “Pay me to make a speech or I won’t make a speech” Jackson and Al “Obamma isn’t black enough” Sharpton are great sources to cite. Except neither of them, nor any other African American group, have had any effect on the *still* growing hip-hop and rap industries. You sure have made it clear to me that the African American community is voting against the way they are portrayed in hip-hop and rap videos by not spending any money to support that industry. Go to ANY rap or hip-hop concert, and see if the percentage of African Americans there is about the same as the percentage of African Americans in the general population. No? Then guess what? As a community, they are giving their tacit endorsement.

    Here’s a hint: use google, and look up “market research”.

    The fact that a small minority have made scattered statements here and there doesn’t negate the fact that every where we go in our daily lives we come across hip-hop imagery and audio. It’s pervasive in America. Due, no doubt, to your self-proclaimed failure of that industry.

    I’m not trying to “excuse” the language in question, I’m flat out saying that until the African American community stops using the word, they have no right to say the word *itself* is offensive.

    Feel free to call me a few more names, since it’s apparent you can’t debate on the topic itself. Probably the next thing you want to try is calling me a “Nazi” or comparing me to Hitler.

  57. sncreducer says:

    @dbeahn:

    I refuted your arguments, point by point. If me calling you ignorant makes it easier for you to accuse me of personal attacks than to stop relying on crass generalizations about how the African-American community thinks, feels, and acts, then there’s no point in arguing with you; you have constructed a comfortable “reality” for yourself and apparently won’t be convinced to come out of it.

    Like I said, there are about 35 million black people in America. If you feel OK taking the actions or views of some and ascribing them to all, well, I don’t think you can be reasoned with.

    I’ll give it one more try, though:

    … Jesse “Pay me to make a speech or I won’t make a speech” Jackson and Al “Obamma (sic) isn’t black enough” Sharpton …

    Hey, here’s a newsflash: tossing “personal attacks” at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton doesn’t change the fact that many black people in this country do look to them as leaders in the community.

    Then guess what? As a community, they are giving their tacit endorsement.

    Uh, no. The presence of many black people at rap concerts (and I’m sure you’ve been to lots of those, right?) doesn’t say anything about the black community at large. It says something about people who go to rap concerts.

    The fact that a small minority have made scattered statements here and there doesn’t negate the fact that every where we go in our daily lives we come across hip-hop imagery and audio.

    You’re right, it doesn’t, but it does negate your previous statement that “no one inside that community stands up and screams they’re offended by it.” Do you have any evidence for your assertion that it’s only a “small minority” complaining, or is this more generalization?

    And I’d love to know where you live that you are faced with hip-hop imagery and music “every where” you go. They don’t have, like, a Starbucks or a Pottery Barn in your town?

    I’m flat out saying that until the African American community stops using the word, they have no right to say the word *itself* is offensive.

    Is there a threshold on the number of black people who have to stop using the word before the rest can complain about it? If 34,999,999 black people adhere to your rule and one doesn’t, do we just say, “Tough luck, you guys have to convince Larry to stop saying it before we’ll listen to your complaints”?

    We won’t even begin to discuss the massive white audience for hip-hop, or the white executives that run most of the major labels. Suffice it to say that claiming that black people alone drive the popularity of hip-hop artists who use the n-word is a an extremely fallacious argument.

    Oooh, I almost forgot:

    Nazi Nazi Nazi! Hitler Hitler Hitler!

    Feel better?

  58. hemaphore says:

    I love the internet and its ability to keep people arguing for days on end :))))

  59. ultramalcolm says:

    After reading through some well thought-out comments above, I have to wonder…am I the only person that finds this post and the accompanying photo utterly hilarious? I laugh every time I look at the picture. If my couch ever insulted or offended ME, straight out of the box, it would certainly become one of my most prized possessions. In fact, I probably wouldn’t even tell anyone about it…I would just keep it between me and the couch.

  60. Haplo9000 says:

    Huh….I seem to have forgotten what we were supposed to be commenting on after reading all these responses. Wonder how that happened?

  61. Hoss says:

    Where did the writers under this thread come from?

  62. FLConsumer says:

    And just what colour would be “nigger brown”? I’ve seen “colored people” of just about every shade imaginable. From almost white to almost black (never seen someone with absolutely black skin ‘though).

    Not sure if the white folk know about this one, but apparently in many black cultures, there’s skin-color discrimination within them. One of my friends from the Caribbean was explaining to me how blacks with lighter skin were viewed more desirably than those with darker skin.

    Personally, I find hypenated-American terms to be far more offensive (and asinine) than any racial slur available. Either be an American citizen or get out. I’m not an Irish/German/Ukrainian/Italian-American. I’m an American. No hyphen. If I had dual-citizenship with another country, then I’d possibly consider using a hyphenated description of nationality for myself. The best example of this I know of was one of my friends from high school. He was born & raised in South Africa and moved to the ‘states around age 15. He had dual-citizenship and we all encouraged him to fill out his college applications as “African-American.” Even if his skin was as white as a sheet, there’s no way to deny that he was a true African-American.

  63. dbeahn says:

    @sncreducer: Oh yes, you “refuted” my arguments point by point, by making erroneous assumptions about me that are based on sweeping generalizations about white Americans.

    Then you capped it with foul language and personal attacks.

    In the meantime, this morning, taking my family out for Easter breakfast I was treated to the (according to you) unpopular rap blaring the N-word at not one, but 2 stop lights. Different cars, different CDs, but both driven by African Americans. Then we get to the resterant and 2 tables over there’s a table of African Americans that are using the N-word among themselves loudly enough for the surrounding 15 tables to hear.

    Not a single African American in the place said a word about it – and out of the surrounding 15 tables, 4 of them had African American families at them.

    That sure convinces me that the word itself is so offensive to African Americans that NO ONE CARES that it’s used daily in entertainment and even, apparently, at family breakfast.

    But please, go on and tell me some more about how you know me well enough to tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    Why don’t you tell me a little about the neighborhood I live in, where I’m being exposed to all this incorrect information. Tell me more about the kind of books I read, the kind of music I listen to, the kinds of TV and movies I watch that makes me not know anything (again, according to you) about black entertainment. I’m enjoying learning so much about me :)

  64. @thesavvyboomer: I’ll worry about phrases like “clueless parent” right about the time teenagers stop getting stereotyped. And banned from malls.

  65. @FLConsumer: “He was born & raised in South Africa and moved to the ‘states around age 15. He had dual-citizenship and we all encouraged him to fill out his college applications as “African-American.””

    I saw a local news story some time back that was in quite a quandry as to how to deal with a racial issue in Africa (I want to say Nigeria) without using the verboten word “black.” (Forbidden by management.)

    So they ACTUALLY REFERRED TO THE BLACK AFRICAN IN AFRICA IN AN ENTIRELY AFRICAN MATTER WITH NO CONNECTION TO THE US WHATSOEVER as “African American.” And nobody in the entire editorial hierarchy caught this. And it went to print. And a substantial portion of people I pointed this out to didn’t understand why it was funny. And wrong.

  66. dbeahn says:

    @FLConsumer:

    –>Not sure if the white folk know about this one, but apparently in many black cultures, there’s skin-color discrimination within them. One of my friends from the Caribbean was explaining to me how blacks with lighter skin were viewed more desirably than those with darker skin.

    Rwanda is a good example of this that comes to mind as well, although in this case, the ethnic differences tended to be based on skin color, height and the “pointiness” of the nose.

  67. hop says:

    GEE, WHEN I WAS A BALTO POLICE I CAN’T COUNT THE TIMES I WAS CALLED A HONKEY MF AND SUCH….SEEMS LIKE IT WASD OK AS LONG AS IT CAME FROM THE OTHER DIRECTION….AND NO , I DIDN’T USE THE N WORD BACK…….

  68. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @dbeahn: Burke didn’t actually say that. It’s an Internet pseudoquote that comes in a thousand different forms, it’s never been found in any of his works, and he probably wouldn’t have agreed anyway (he hated maxims and proverbs like that).

    As for the rest of the thread: LOL at all the white people who’re convinced they know exactly what the black community’s problems are and how to solve them. Yep, if we could just get them to stop using the n-word in their music, racism would end tomorrow and everybody would hold hands and sing “Ebony and Ivory” and no one would ever force white people to check their privilege again. Hooray!

  69. dbeahn says:

    @CumaeanSibyl: I’m not saying that I know what the problems are, or how to solve them. I’m saying that it’s UP to the black community, not the Government or the rest of us, to solve the problems, whatever they may be.

    But that doesn’t seem to be happening – Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are constantly reminding all us “white people” that African Americans are special, and need extra help and services, and that these special services should be paid for out of the taxes asian, arab, hispanic, europian, african and native Americans pay.

    I do love how the African American community refuses to acknowledge that they were NOT the only people to suffer as slaves in the US.

  70. sncreducer says:

    @dbeahn:

    That you can dare to talk about my “generalizations” about white America, then use an incident at your local “resterant” to make assumptions about all black Americans, is rich irony indeed. Thanks for giving me the best laugh of the day, and it’s only noon.

    That you would bother to complain about the phrase “your ignorant ass” as foul language is very telling indeed.

    /flame war

  71. NeoteriX says:

    @Jerry Stout:

    Civil rights lawyer ? That’s ridiculous. Nobody called her that or forced her to buy the sofa for that matter… The lady needs to just get over it and quit looking for a handout around every corner.

    YOU ARE A RACIST.

    Let’s be absolutely certain about it. You are a racist. Nowhere in the article does it say the person involved is seeking legal action or a fucking “hand out.” Nothing in the article mentions “lawyer” or “civil rights lawyer”. Let’s examine what you did instead:

    1) Saw the article was about a Black woman
    2) Drew forth from your ignorant, myopic, narrow-viewpoint of Blacks and:
    3) Assumed that the lady was blaming others on forcing her to buy the sofa and
    4) Assumed she’s like other “Blacks” in your ignorant-ass view and that she wanted to sue and get quick money because she’s looking an easy handout

    And just so I’m not accused of taking a response out of context, here is the post you appeared to be responding to (the only mention of civil rights in the article/byline/comments):

    faust1200 says:
    …Anyway, I would imagine some fancy civil rights lawyer might step up for this woman, pro bono which could possibly end up in some type of settlement…

    Someone suggested a personal opinion that retaining a civil rights lawyer. However, this was not fact, it was not otherwise pertinent to the person in the article and it was not reality.

    I’m a fair person, and when someone is genuinely accepting of their race ignorance and is making an attempt to learn, I offer them every bit of patience and grace.

    However, DON’T BE BRINGING YOUR CONDESCENDING, IGNORANT-ASS ATTITUDE IN HERE AND NOT EXPECT TO BE CALLED OUT FOR BEING A RACIST. I don’t care what ethnicity or background you come from. You made a horrible assumption based on no facts aside from race and your compassion-less ignorance.

  72. cgmaetc says:

    >>Hey, here’s a newsflash: tossing “personal attacks” at Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton doesn’t change the fact that many black people in this country do look to them as leaders in the community.

    Oh. My. GOD!

    To quote Token: “Jessie Jackson is not the emperor of Black people!”

    Jessie and Al are nothing but pawns. “Many black people look to them a leaders?” What is “many”… the 20 or 30 you see in the 30 second news segment standing behind Jesse/Al just so they can be seen on TC? There are 13 million black people in this country. I wager about .01% of us ever agree with anything these two morons have to say.

    Just because you see in on TV, doesn’t make it true. Stop lumping all of us black people together!

  73. sncreducer says:

    ::sigh::

    *re-initiate flame war*

    Man•y
    1. constituting or forming a large number; numerous: many people.

    I chose my word carefully there, because while I can feel certain that “numerous” black people agree with Jesse and/or Al on some issues, I can’t be sure what that number actually is.

    So, my claim that “many” black people look to them as leaders is wrong, but your claim that “.01% of us ever agree with them” is true? Who’s lumping all black people together now, smart guy?

    The larger point I was trying to make (which you seem to have missed completely) is that dbeahn’s assumptions about how black people think, feel and act, based only his limited experience in a nation of 300 million people, were erroneous. But you seem eager to jump into the same logical trap as he/she did. Dbeahn uses experiences with loud rap music to make baseless assumptions about the entirety of black America; you use the fact that you’re black to make baseless assumptions about black America.

    Oh, and:

    The U.S. Census puts the number of black Americans at about 35 million, not 12 million as you say. It could be you said 12 million when you meant 12 percent, which is a lot closer to the truth.

    And Jesse Jackson got over 10 million votes in his two presidential runs (combined). I don’t know how many of those voters were black, but more than “.01%” seems like a pretty strong possibility.

  74. sncreducer says:

    … you use the fact that you’re black to make baseless assumptions about the entirety of black America.

    Don’t type angry.

  75. latemodel says:

    @poornotignorant:
    Wish people would be more offended about african americans killing african americans.

    I did not see any response to this. Oddly sad. And Bill Cosby gets death threats because he wants colored America(NAACP, right?) to take responsibility for itself.

  76. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    It looks to me to be more of a case of a Chinese manufacturer accidentally taking a racially-charged word and using it as a color descriptor. The manufacturer probably had absolutely no idea the word was offensive to certain people in certain parts of the world.

    I’ve seen lots of “Engrish” translations that seemed to make no apparent sense at all. I know that if I were trying to speak Chinese (if that were even remotely possible) that it would certainly be easy enough to accidentally use a perfectly horrible and insensitive word without even knowing about it.

    I’m not discounting the whole argument over racism at all, but getting back to the article in question, and even though their response (or lack thereof) is pretty lame, I’m having a hard time believing that a Canadian furniture store owner would sit around and purposely attach racially offensive labels to his merchandise.

  77. sncreducer says:

    13 million, 13 percent.

    Seriously, don’t type angry.

  78. unwritten07 says:

    I have been trying to stay out of this so far but this post has just become too much for me.

    It seems to me that
    (many, a few, some, most – choose one that doesn’t piss you off)
    posters here are
    (very, somewhat, slightly)
    off-topic already.

    I would suggest a quick dose of comic relief:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGwBqqeJKMI

  79. dbeahn says:

    @sncreducer: So if his being black doesn’t give him a frame of reference, how can you claim to have one?

    It’s pretty clear at this point that you’re nothing more than another close-minded liberal, unable to accept that there are other world views that are different than yours, and more to the point that it doesn’t make them wrong.

    Incidentally, since you seem to have a short memory, the irony is that you took me to task for my “generalizations” and then you turned right around and MADE generalizations about me. I’ve been consistent in commenting about things I observe around me – observation being the basis of science. You’re the one that is exhibiting an inability to live up to your own standards.

    So tell us then, what it is that qualifies you to have such an incredible insight into African American culture, Mr. Jimenez. We’d all love to know.

    As a side note, over 121 million people voted for Bush or Kerry in the 2004 election. 10 million is not statistically a significant amount. I’d also like to see you cite a source for that number, since a simple google search will show you that in 1984 Jackson got 3.2 million votes, and in 1988 he only managed 6.9 million. You’ll notice neither number comes close to the 10 million you quoted unless you add them together.

    Jackson has referred to Jews as “Hymies” and to New York City as “Hymietown” in January 1984 during a conversation with Washington Post reporter, Milton Coleman. Jackson is also on the record as saying he’s “sick and tired of hearing about the holocaust”. So I guess 50 years is too long to talk about the Jew’s suffering, but 140 years is not long enough to talk about slavery. Excuse me – I mean not long enough to talk about African slavery – Jackson doesn’t appear to care about other peoples that were enslaved. If you weren’t a black slave, then Jackson is happy to discriminate against you by ignoring your suffering.

    Seems to me if Jackson is happy to use deragatory language about the jews, he’s hardly in a position to take anyone to task about hate language. But since he’s obviously your hero, feel free to defend him and his anti-sematic remarks.

  80. dbeahn says:

    Whoops – forgot to proof read. You did cite his support as 10 million in 2 elections total.

    We’ll ignore for a moment, given the statistical insignificance of 10 million votes in a nation of 300 million, the fact that likely the same 3.2 million that voted for him the first time also voted for him the second run, leaving his number of total supporters lower than the 10 million you’d like us to think it is.

    Using your same logic, however, given the billions of dollars that rap and hip hop generate, it is highly likely that the majority of the African Americans don’t have an issue with it’s portrayals. Otherwise they’d vote with their wallets.

  81. I only read through 35 of the 70 or so comments yet hadnt reached a single comment pointing out the fact that Niger means black in latin so would that mean that the manufacturer is calling this couch black-brown?

    Niger brown = black brown.
    I found the color blanca white referring to furniture

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=blanca+white

    Is it only in America that the “n-word” is offensive??

    I’m with those that realize that niger is just a color like any other color.

  82. madderhatter says:

    @NeoteriX:

    The civil rights comment was directed at one of the comments, not the article. Read first, idiot. The handout comment was mine – and how is that racist ? It’s not. Everyone these days who gets their feelings hurt is looking for a handout (money through lawsuit or threatening one). Look at all the ridiculous lawsuits these days.

    @sncreducer:

    Are you done ? Someone needs to kick your soapbox out from under you. Along with the other guy, how do you get racist out of “looking for a handout” ? Are you guys related ? Where did I even mention race ? Little trigger happy ain’t ya there bub ?

    Next !

  83. spryte says:

    Holden Caulfield: But the word on the label wasn’t spelled that way, it was spelled with two g’s, which makes it a different word entirely.

    I’m surprised at how many people seem to think this woman shouldn’t have been upset at all at seeing this. I mean…how would anyone react to that? I’m white, but if I received something with that label I’d certainly be shocked. Has the word really become so commonplace that people expect it to carry no negativity at all?

    And the amount of racism I’ve seen in some of these comments is saddening, in all its various forms. Most of us have experienced some form of discrimination in our lives, but it seems few of us have absorbed any lessons from it.

  84. Buriaq says:

    @Jerry Stout:

    Civil rights lawyer ? That’s ridiculous. Nobody called her that or forced her to buy the sofa for that matter… The lady needs to just get over it and quit looking for a handout around every corner.

    ^ Don’t backtrack now, you most certainly did express hostility towards the woman in the article for something she didn’t even say. You had a knee-jerk reaction to this article because it was about an African American person.

  85. sncreducer says:

    @Jerry Stout:

    Explain your thinking, then, Jerry. Like I said, there’s nothing in the post or the article suggesting in any way that this woman is looking for a handout. She hasn’t hired a lawyer, she didn’t try to send the couch back (as far as we know, according to the post & article), she hasn’t asked anyone for anything, other than asking the company in question for an explanation, which would have cost them exactly *zero* dollars, but they still refused to give to her.

    And yet, you said:
    “The lady needs to just get over it and quit looking for a handout around every corner.”

    So I’m asking, specifically, what made you think that she is “looking for a handout around every corner?”

    It’s a simple question. Fire away.

  86. sncreducer says:

    For the record, even sending the couch back would not be “looking for a handout.” It would be refusing to give a business your money (albeit after the fact).

  87. FLConsumer says:

    I think I figured out how it might have happened. If any of you are using Firefox 2.x, try typing in “niger” in the text box… At least with the dictionaries I have loaded into mine, it shows it as incorrectly spelled and “nigger” is the first suggestion available. If I didn’t live in America, I probably would think the computer probably is correct, click Correct and go on my merry way.

    Just because someone takes offence to something DOES NOT mean the comments were made to be offensive.

    As a side note, how come it appears that rap music is mostly what gets blasted out of cars? You’ll almost never hear classical / opera / jazz / rock & roll / country played at levels which are offensive. You certainly don’t hear other music with offensive lyrics being blasted like that by other drivers. I have plenty of naughty music of just about every genre, but I don’t feel the need to educate the children in cars around me about sex, drugs, whores, and pimps.

  88. vanilla-fro says:

    @jendomme: Jewish folk may not call each other “heeb” but they do publish a magazine called “HEEB”.

    Anyway, there is no way this label should have made it out of the distributer’s hands. I mean that is a fairly recognizable word someone must have noticed. even during delivery you would think there would have been at least one person that saw that, not that this would stop it.

  89. jkdalex says:

    I think that some of you may have got it wrong about the Chinese manufacturer posting the racial word on purpose. What often happens is mistranslation or bad advice. I have lived in China for many years and the locals don’t even understand the usage of the n-word much less enough to apply it to a color. Consider the above case at hand, using the n-word to apply it to the sofa’s color would require a significant understanding of what the n-word means. In this case, it is likely the manufacturers either consulted a bad source for English translation or they were given bad directions. Either way, on receipt of the sofa shipments, the store should have noticed something wrong already. If you were a retailer getting goods from abroad, wouldn’t you inspect the shipment first to know that you got what you paid for?

  90. dbeahn says:

    @sncreducer: Funny, now you’re asking people to answer your questions, but you’ve declined to answer mine.

    Still no explination of what makes you enough of an expert on black entertainment that you can refute my observations, no explination of Jesse Jackson’s anti-semetic rhetoric, no answer to what your own background is.

    Seems like you love to ask questions Mr. Jimenez, but you sure don’t like when people play your game on you.

  91. radiogrrl says:

    Just because that’s the name of the dye doesn’t mean it’s okay! It’s NOT OKAY!

  92. SpyMaster says:

    First the Chinese try to poison all our dogs and cats, and now they insult some of our finest citizens. Where will it all end?

  93. sncreducer says:

    @dbeahn:

    I’m glad to see you’re a man (or woman) of “science,” as it’s clear you’re not a man of spelling. (THAT’S a personal attack.)

    But as requested, I will answer your “questions.”

    “So if his being black doesn’t give him a frame of reference, how can you claim to have one?”

    Please point out where I said that “being black doesn’t give him a frame of reference.” Here’s a hint: You can’t, because I didn’t. I said that using the fact of one’s own blackness to make sweeping assertions about the thoughts of all black people is as nonsensical as you using your experiences on the street or in a “resterant” to do the same.

    “… I’ve been consistent in commenting about things I observe around me – observation being the basis of science.”

    You took your experience on Easter and used it to assert that “… NO ONE CARES that it’s used daily in entertainment and even, apparently, at family breakfast.” Yes, that is indeed a scientific conclusion you’ve arrived at. Darwin and Einstein would be proud.

    But OK, let’s try and lay things out in a “scientific” manner for you, in the form of a syllogism:

    A) dbeahn has encountered black people who use the n-word or listen to music that uses the n-word;

    B) dbeahn has not witnessed black people protesting said use;

    therefore

    C) All black people support the use of the n-word.

    Or how about this one:

    A) Billions of dollars are spent on hip-hop records that use the n-word;

    B) Many black people listen to hip-hop;

    therefore

    C) “…it is highly likely that the majority of the African Americans don’t have an issue with it’s(sic) portrayals.”

    It’s called an inductive fallacy.

    As with your “frame of reference” comment, you can’t find anywhere where I held myself up as an expert on African-American culture, because I didn’t. I’ve been trying, as have many other commenters, to point out to you that your narrow experience with African-Americans is in no way a sufficient basis for you to make broad generalizations about the 35 million of them living in this country.

    But you’re right that I had no basis to claim that you have no
    knowledge of African-American culture. So would you care to share? How many hip-hop records do you own, for example? Do you read the works of any prominent African-American scholars or authors? And yes, I DO listen to hip-hop, and yes, I DO read black authors, though let me be clear that neither fact makes me an expert on anything other than my own cultural tastes. Some of the hip-hop artists I listen to use the n-word; some don’t.

    cgmaetc may very well be more of an “expert” on African-American culture than I am (and I’m not saying that I am one at all, because I’m not), but that doesn’t make him right, and it certainly doesn’t mean that he knows what all African-Americans are thinking, or that his “.01%” comment is anything more than a wild, fact-free assumption.

    Even taking the lowest possible number of votes cast for Jackson, 3.2 million, it’s interesting to note that you call it “statistically insignificant.” I’ll be sure to tell that to the populations of Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming – sorry, you guys are “statiscally insignificant,” you’ll have to consolidate some of your states before we’ll listen to you. Hey Dakotas, you wanna lead things off?

    Jesse Jackson won 21% of the votes cast in the 1984 Democratic primaries, won 3 states and split another, and received the votes of 485 delegates. Still “statistically insignificant”?

    Even if your assumption about all the 1984 voters returning to Jackson in 1988 is correct, that means he added the support of 3.7 million more people. Jackson won 1218 delegates’ votes that year, and 5 states on Super Tuesday. Still “statistically insignificant”?

    As for the ‘Hymietown’ comments and their views on non-African slavery, uh, I don’t recall holding up Jackson or Sharpton as paragons of racial sensitivity or moral virtue. I held them up as proof that your assertion that “no one” in the black community was protesting the word’s usage was incorrect.

    But how, exactly, did you deduce that Jackson is “my hero”? How does citing a person’s statements on one topic – again, which I did to directly refute your claim that “no one” in the black community has spoken out on the use of the n-word – mean that I automatically support (and therefore must defend) everything they’ve ever said?

    One last point – you keep referring to the growth of hip-hop and continued sales as proof that the black community is not voting with their dollars to oppose the use of the n-word. But – and I’ll allow up front that I don’t have statistics to back this up – I’d wager that the amount of money the average black person spends on hip-hop records sits on a curve, approaching zero as they get older. So how should, for example, a 65-year-old black person institute a boycott against Aftermath, or Interscope, or Roc-a-Fella, if he/she was never giving them money in the first place?

  94. dbeahn says:

    @sncreducer: “I’d wager that the amount of money the average black person spends on hip-hop records sits on a curve, approaching zero as they get older.”

    Exactly. Thank you for pointing that out. And as such, it’s a logical hypothesis to conclude that by and large, the future of the African American community doesn’t have the same strong feelings about the word as the older members of that community. Care to take a guess what that means from an anthropological standpoint?

    As far as my experience – I live in a primarily African American neighborhood. Several of my ex-girlfriends were African American. A “statistically significant” percentage of my close friends are Arican American. I read books by black authors (McWhorter, Steele, Elder, and Williams to name a few and give you some ammunition) probably approaching 30-35% of the reading I do (around 3-4 books a month). I listen to hip-hop, watch movies and plays by black writers and get to see a lot of material your average non-African American probably doesn’t even know exists.

    My claim wasn’t that “no one in the black community has spoken out” (go back and read it again) it was that nothing had come out of the African American community that had had any impact or even gained any momentum.

    Oh, and yes – sometimes my speling is naught too gud.

  95. sncreducer says:

    @dbeahn:

    “My claim wasn’t that ‘no one in the black community has spoken out’ (go back and read it again) … .”

    Really? OK, let’s do that:

    “… when the most visable and vocal part of that community blasts that word in so much of it’s material, and no one inside that community stands up and screams they’re offended by it, it qualifies as a tacit endorsement of what is being said and done.”

    “That sure convinces me that the word itself is so offensive to African Americans that NO ONE CARES that it’s used daily in entertainment and even, apparently, at family breakfast.”

    If you want to backtrack on what you said, dbeahn, that’s fine, but don’t try to claim that you didn’t say it.

    But even taking you at face value, you’re still missing my point – and it’s the same for you as it is for me, for cgmaetc and everybody else out there:

    Even if you’re a black person, listening to black music, reading black authors, watching black movies, own a black cat, eat black licorice, play blackjack and drink Johnny Walker Black – you are in no way qualified to make assertions about what all black people think, feel or do.

    The simple fact is that NO ONE can do that. Without some scientific polling data, you can’t even assert what MOST black people think, feel or do. I can’t make those assertions about Chicano/Latino people, and you can’t make them about Irish Catholics.

    This has been my point all along, and yet you’re still doing exactly that:

    (Syllogism 2: Fallacious Boogaloo)

    A) Hip-hop is a billion-dollar market;

    B) Younger black people are more likely to listen to hip-hop than older black people;

    therefore

    C) “it’s a logical hypothesis to conclude that by and large, the future of the African American community doesn’t have the same strong feelings about the word as the older members of that community.”

    That “logical” hypothesis would be a lot more logical if you would just remove the phrase “by and large” and replace it with a qualifier like “to some degree.”

    Do you see the difference? Are you finally getting my point?

    I’m not going to argue with you like this if you say, “People who use the n-word, or buy music/support culture that uses the n-word, don’t have the right to complain about others using it.” I don’t agree with that point of view – in the words of cgmaetc, channeling Token, “When it comes to whites using the n-word as casually as blacks, of course it’s a double standard! No, you can’t say it, and no, it doesn’t make any sense” – but at least I understand the thinking behind it.

    You said earlier that you wouldn’t mind owning something named “Honky White” or “Mick Green” – but do you really think that words like “honky” and “mick” are analagous to a word like “nigger”? I won’t deny the tragedy of Irish slavery, anti-Irish discrimination or anti-Irish violence, but in America at least, is it hard not to see that black people have had it much, much worse?

    Is it hard to see that the word “nigger,” for many black people, instantly summons visions of not only slavery, but officially sanctioned discrimination, lynchings, hatred and violence in a recent past when Irish-Americans had long since been accepted and embraced by much of American society?

    But my main beef with you is your claim that because SOME black people accept/endorse the word’s use, ALL black people have no right to complain. If you look back at my first comment, that’s what it’s always been. And you’ve never made an argument as to why that should be.

    If SOME black people didn’t mind public segregation, should ALL black people have had to accept it? If SOME black people didn’t mind not having the right to vote, should ALL black people have lost their claim to suffrage?

    Complaining about boycotts and such – or the protests and petitions you expect that have not appeared before your eyes – does nothing to bolster your claim. People are free to express themselves in any way they choose, and just because they don’t express themselves in YOUR chosen way doesn’t make their expression (or their underlying opinions) any less valid.

  96. ibelli says:

    Whoa, whoa, whoa. Everybody stop. Stop, stop, stop. Two things:

    1.) The word “Nigger” has no other meaning other than a bigoted slur that is used to dehumanize African-Americans. It is an American derivation and therefore cannot be translated to mean anything other than a racial slur. Nigger is Nigger.

    2.) Niger is a country in Africa colonized by France in 1896. Could a Chinese manufacturer have added a extra “G” to the shipping label by mistake? Sure. Could this be a sick joke played by a chinese manufactiurer? Sure.

  97. dbeahn says:

    @sncreducer:

    Your main beef with me is that I don’t agree with your position that the views of the few should hold more weight than the views of the many. If you’d read my entire post, you’d have seen this qualifier:

    I haven’t seen any news of any African American organizations declaring that a boycott should be started to protest this trend, let alone any indications that such a boycott has had any impact what so ever on that industry. I’ll say it in a way that may be a bit clearer for you:

    If there isn’t enough support to have a movement against the ideals that rap and hip-hop are advocating, and no movement gains enough momentum to remain visable, and the industry feels no effect from it, then it is a clear sociological indication that it’s a small minority behind it.

    I’d encourage you to take a class in anthropology or sociology.

    How about you clarify your position – are you saying that the MAJORITY of the African American community DOES have an issue with this word, and believes is should not be used even among themselves?

    Things don’t become social norms because a minority,or a few people, or one person thinks it should be that way unless you’re talking about an oppressive dictatorship. If that isn’t the case, then things become a social norm based on what the majority think.

    As far as what is logical to conclude – if the hip hop industry was a multi-million dollar industry, then it would be “to some degree”. When you’re talking about a billion dollars being generated for entertainment, when you’re talking about the high percentage (compared to the percentage of the population as a whole) of African American fans, then it moves beyond “to some degree”. When you add in the curve YOU pointed out, as far as age and experience, then you show an even clearer result that is beyond “to some degree”.

    Go down to an inner city chapter of Big Brothers and Big Sisters for a summer camp. Listen to the african american children talk. Then try to explain to the 20% of children there of various backgrounds why they can’t use certain words that the majority (80% is a majority, just so you know) of the other children are using.

    The simple fact is this: by teaching that this word is not to be used, but that it’s OK that African Americans use it, we are teaching racism.

  98. dbeahn says:

    @sncreducer: “You said earlier that you wouldn’t mind owning something named “Honky White” or “Mick Green” – but do you really think that words like “honky” and “mick” are analagous to a word like “nigger”? I won’t deny the tragedy of Irish slavery, anti-Irish discrimination or anti-Irish violence, but in America at least, is it hard not to see that black people have had it much, much worse?”

    I wanted to tackle this seperately.

    The Irish were enslaved longer than the Africans.

    When the Irish slaves were freed, genocidal laws were enacted preventing food from being imported during the great famine. The ones that were “lucky” enough to be able to leave their homes and go to America were signed up to fight in the Union army (according to revisionist history, to free the slaves). The ones that didn’t sign up to be cannon fodder were forced to live 8, 10 and 15 to a room, with signs everywhere that said “Help Wanted! – Irish need not apply”. I suppose in America, at least, the Irish weren’t intentionally starved – they just couldn’t get jobs and didn’t have the option of sharecropping to feed themselves.

    Incidentally, the N word was applied to the Irish as well.

    Native Americans were also enslaved. I don’t know much about that whole situation, but given that there used to be a lot of native Americans and now there aren’t many at all, I’d have to wonder if they had it worse than the African Americans or not. Certainly the US Army was never sent out to hunt down and kill African Americans after the civil war.

    So out of these 3 groups that were slaves, where are they now? And why? Explain to me which group has had it “much, much worse”, and why.

  99. sncreducer says:

    /flame war (for real this time)

    I’m done. Declare victory if you’d like.

  100. robogd says:

    @NeoteriX:

    I love it man… Your post didn’t get the response it deserves, so here goes…

    First off, if you gathered your info from a few credible news sources rather than a random blog on the internet, CNN perhaps??, you’d know that (direct quote) “Doris plans on lodging a formal complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission”.

    Now I’m sure that there are several reasons that a person would have for filing a complaint against a furniture store/manufacturer with the HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION about this tag.

    1. If they refused to remove the tag (which wasn’t in the story)

    2. If they threatened her rights as a citizen if she complained about it (again, not in the story)

    3. I’m running out of reasons other than to back up a possible forthcoming lawsuit…

    Here’s my point: You, my friend are a knee-jerk reactionary asshole. Before you start throwing the “You are a Racist” card around, take ten minutes and calm down, then start typing.

    Funny how this works but your own “ignorant, myopic, narrow-viewpoint” lead you to believe that when Jerry Stout said the word “handout”, he was saying it because the lady in the story was black. He didn’t even hint at that. Every jackass that trips over his shoelace and falls down a flight of stairs is looking for a handout regardless of race.

    You calling someone a racist?! Isn’t that funny? You know the old saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”? Instead, how about “No stone throwing… Regardless of housing situation”. Calm down, take a minute, and put the rock down homey. Someone might mistake you for a racist.

  101. mrcalico says:

    I really wouldn’t mind having a sofa set in the colour ‘Injun Red’. lol that’d be cute. This whole ‘nigger-brown’ situation sounds like a poor translation issue to moi. Although, using a ‘far-away’ country as a scapegoat for a ‘misprinted label’ should work fine as long as the woman has no further follow-up questions. hahaha that’s great. The lost-in-translation bit.

    As for the “where are they now?” question about past slavery, well for Blacks they are now living side by side with White people, financially and socially. You think past slavery has hurt them as a nation? Apparently not. But hell, that doesn’t stop them all from being urban hip-hop lovers, does it? That was sarcasm lol. If you’re going to talk slavery, even the Chinese, who are the entire reason you and that other guy (who just continues to prove you wrong so you strike back) are arguing, were enslaved. Everyone was. Slaves are used to this very day, both for labor and sex fetish needs. What’s your point? You can not put a degree on “who was hurt more” by slavery no more than you can choose which death out of two fathers is worse.

    And dbeahn, there is a clear difference with the whole context of use of the “n-word” or whatever. Why can’t you get that?

    You said “The simple fact is this: by teaching that this word is not to be used, but that it’s OK that African Americans use it, we are teaching racism.” Teaching? Why the hell would you be teaching others about the word in the first place? How about we all just not use the word in the first place. It all depends on the context, my Conservative friend. White people can say it, and some do, be it a racially confused adolescent or a “klan” member. Doesn’t matter what colour you are – it all depends on context! “Hey what’s up nigga” sounds a lot different than “Ima hang you nigger”, doesn’t it? It’s as simple as that.

    OK, say your white friend says, seriously, “we’re all a bunch of white trailer trash wife-beating inbreeding rednecks”, while referring to him and you. Now would this sound the same as a black friend saying, “you’re all a bunch of white trailer trash wife-beating inbreeding rednecks”, referring to you while being as just serious as the white friend? Say what you will, but you’d probably have a lil hissy fit, whitey :)
    See the way it works?

    Why don’t we all just go and ask a black person this question: “when, if possible, can I use the word nigger”.

    Jerry Stout, you don’t even deserve a response. What you said was just thoughtless and a stereotype so admit it, accept it, and embrace it. You’re a shame to us real natives.

    I find the whole Imus situation amusing too ^.^

  102. dbeahn says:

    @mrcalico: What I find so amusing with the Imus thing is that two of the most outspoken people (Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton) have made numerous racist remarks publically themselves.

    And I wasn’t teaching a child to use that word – the black children had already taught him. I had to teach him that HE couldn’t use the word because he wasn’t black.

    So tell me, what would you do in that situation? NOT teach him that non-blacks shouldn’t use that word?

    Yes, I get the context thing – which is my whole point. This woman is *offended* by clearly innocent and likely accidental context.

    If it was a friend? No, I wouldn’t be pissed – cause if he’s hanging out with us, I’d be able to look at him and say “You’re a black trailer-trash wife beating s**tneck, that’s why ya fit right in!” The key, of course, is that this is my friend saying it. Some random stranger, on the other hand, would prolly get his ass kicked. Again, it’s the context.

  103. incoserv says:

    Hey, I just opened my pantry and found a box with the word “CRACKER” written across it! Whom do I call?!?

    Come on, the sofa was from China. Nobody at the factory that made the thing:

    1. …understands what the fuss would be about- As Daniel Rutter says, it’s probably a direct translation from French.
    2. …has any interest in addressing the issue.
    3. …even cares.

    Just tear the lable off, throw it a way and get a life!

  104. nimnim says:

    My only question about all this is who reads those tags? To my knowledge they’re underneath the furniture or in some other out of the way place so they don’t detract from the look. If it’s under the sofa I kind of doubt a curious child will be tipping a brand new sofa over to read a label without a parent stopping them.

  105. Ayra says:

    Seriously, I don’t see what the fuss is.

    I agree that “nigger-brown” probably resulted from that lovely fractured language we call Engrish and that there was absolutely no malice in it.
    [insert comment relating to Latin word niger meaning black, possible spelling error as one may expect from non-English speaking people.]

    To be honest though, the idea of the “n-word” (which is a silly enough phrase as it is. We all know exactly which word it refers to, so how is it any less offensive in that form?) changing meaning depending on it’s context is ridiculous. Someone mentioned earlier how there’s such a difference between “what’s up my nigga” and something about a lynching.

    If anyone approached me and uttered that phrase, they’d get quite the verbal bashing. It’s not a term of endearment or familiarity, it’s a bastardised version of the dreaded n-word of DOOM.
    [/facetiousness]


    And as for the African-American thing… Way to segregate! Go America, go! Political correctness taken a bit too far, I feel. Why? Overhearing an American tourist describe me (I’m Aboriginal for the record) as an “Australian-African-American”.

    Sure thing, buddy.

    I’m neither African nor American. But hey, one out of three isn’t too bad, right?
    However, the term “African-American” is for the most part, inaccurate. I’d love to see how many of the 30-something million black people living in the US of damn A were born in Africa. I’d be willing to put money on the fact that it’s not the majority.

    I think it’s about time to stop dancing around the political correctness banner and perhaps find another racial term to identify with.

    Now let’s see… Black has been done, and it sounds a bit dull…

    I know! Let’s just use the Latin word for black!

    Niger? Oh damn. Back to square one.

    …Oh yeah. The couch. Lady, get over it, it’s just a sofa. Start calling it honkey or cracker if it makes you feel better.