Mudcat Café message #1922124 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #81350   Message #1922124
Posted By: Azizi
30-Dec-06 - 08:44 AM
Thread Name: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
Subject: RE: I'm Rubber . You're Glue: Children's Rhymes
Hello, Mo.

In this recent Mudcat thread, Religious Trains & Chariot Songs I wrote that I flinched when I [unexpectedly] came upon the n-word. What made me flinch was my knowledge of that word's use as a derogatory individual & group referent for Black people. However, I recognized that that the person who posted that example of a spiritual that included the 'n word' did so because he believes in the importance of presenting these songs with the words that were written down and/or recorded when they were first collected. Given that context, after I acknowledged my reaction to the n-word [in that example],I moved on to the topic at hand.

In my opinion, context is highly important. Even if a person's motivation is historical research and analysis, I would take great exception to spirituals and other songs being publicly sung without a substitution of another word for the 'n-word'. See my comment on 29 Dec 06 - 02:19 PM about the continuing use of 'Black slave dialect in performances of spirituals' in that same Mudcat thread. And yes, the inclusion of the n-word is one of the reasons why I don't like many hip-hop songs.uch a song-or any song including hip-hop songs.

That said, my energy would be spent up if I flinched everytime I read the 'n word' on certain Mudcat threads. I supposed I had that visceral reaction that time because -even though that particular thread included quite a number of spirituals-I hadn't prepared myself to read that word. If I see that a thread is about minstrel songs or spirituals, I know that I will probably read dialectic examples, and so it is my choice to either avoid those threads or prepare myself psychologically to read the n-word and those long retired [if they were ever totally real] Black dialectic phrasings. I believe that I have stated my aversion to the 'n-word' enough times on this discussion forum that my aversion is known. But I felt the need on that Train/Chariot thread to say that my reaction is more than mental-it is physical & emotional.

The word 'spades' doesn't have even half the same negative reaction for me as the 'n word'. I believe that this is because I have so little experience with the word 'spades' being used as a referent for Black people. I barely recall its use [among Black people toward other Black people] in the 1960s and 1970s]. And I personally have no knowledge of 'Spades' being used as a referent for Black people nowadays.

See this entry from Urban Dictionary [warning-that page includes some profanity]:
"spade: A derogatory term for an African American, more commonly used in the post-Civil War era than today"

However, given your post, Mo, I gather that "spades" is currently used more often as a negative referent for Black people in the United Kingdom than in the USA. Is this what you are saying?

Having said this, I felt that I should include a message on that streetplay website and on this thread as a 'FYI" cautionary note to those who recite "The Spades go" rhyme-or teach this rhyme to children-that some people [I was thinking of Black people, but I can also understand how some non-Black people] might take exception to this referent and see it as being offensive, even if no offense was intended.

You will also note that in that same post on this thread that mentions 'the spades go two lips together', the poster mentions the '"Eeny meeny miney moe" rhyme and its' use of the 'n word' instead of the word 'tiger'. I decided to ignore that word and focus on what I considered to be a more worthwhile use of my energy & time-the presentation & analysis of examples of children's rhymes that are similar to 'The Spades Go' and had other similar lines.

Also, let me say this-because I'm a 'product' of the "Say It Loud, I'm Black And I'm Proud" movement, if [because] the word 'spades' as used for Black people refers to our dark skin color-then if I disliked that term, I would also be saying that I dislike black skin color. You see what I'm getting at?

Perhaps if I were a Black Briton who heard or read the term 'Spades' being used as a subsitute for the 'n-word', that word spades would be as loaded a term as the N-word is to me. Thankfully, I haven't had that experience.

Btw, Mo, I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to think out load about the differences in my approach to these two words.

Happy New Year,