January 20, 2005


And in second hat tip to Greg Wallace (or the fourth in two days), I will only include the link to this article written back on 1993. I've worked in fast food - okay in pizza, which is semi-fast food - but this is the sort of brain power I often worked alongside.

It reminds me of the girl I used to work with who, upon meeting the then-future Mrs H, asked if there were a lot of African-Americans in England (nevermind that Mrs H is from Wales). When Mrs H tried to explain that there were almost no African-Americans in England but that there were lots of black people, the poor girl could just not get her head around it.

Posted by david at January 20, 2005 01:03 AM | TrackBack

I'm surprised she didn't ask your wife, "So what are you? African-what? Waliean?" Oh no..wait..that would have been too hard to *think* about! Sheesh! People amaze me...they just amaze me...

Posted by: philippa at January 22, 2005 01:34 AM

I think she knew my wife wasn't African anything - unless it would have been a South African or Rhodesian of European descent. (Not implausable, as my wife has a lot of first cousins who have recented immigrated back to the UK from Zimbabwe, but she doesn't have an antipodean accent.)

What my fellow employee wanted to know was whether there were any people who looked like her - she just couldn't conceive of calling them (or herself) anything but Africen-American.

Methinks she has no idea what the letters NAACP actual stand for.

Posted by: Dave at January 22, 2005 11:13 PM

Sorry, I either forgot or never read before that Mrs H is Welsh! Here in Pennsylvania there is a Welsh heritage as William Penn set aside land for a group from Wales and there were Welsh miners here in the early 1800s. Penn's old Welsh settlement is gone but the place names remain, fashionable again. And I've been told that people in some of the upstate towns say 'chimbley' for 'chimney' and don't know why. Your story reminds me of something that happened in a recent Olympics when an African was the first black person to win a medal in his event. The thoroughly indoctrinated announcer said he was 'the first African-American from Africa to win the event'. Silly. Funny how usage changes, sometimes naturally, sometimes not. The neutral word I grew up with is 'black' and I'm sticking to that. (We never seriously heard or used slurs just among ourselves to make ourselves giggle because it was naughty!) I understand it used to be considered too direct and 'coloured' was the polite word (back when the NAACP started). For a while 'people of colour' was considered cool and PC even though it's really the same as 'coloured', which is out simply because of the period it comes from. ('African-American' is well meant but too long and PC.)

Posted by: The young fogey at January 24, 2005 12:57 AM