2009-11-05

Things Darkies Say

Yesterday on twitter, there was a trending topic that threw people completely off. It was the number one trending topic on twitter, and from all appearances, I was appalled. The trending topic was #thingsdarkiessay . Now I'm an American, you can't call me darkie, I can't call white folks whitey. It's an old school derogatory word for black folks. Apparently in other parts of the world, particularly in South Africa, it doesn't have a negative connotation. The topic was started by a black South African, it was intended to make fun of stereotypes.

#thingsdarkiessay : Started in South Africa, where "darkie" does not have the same negative connotations as it does in the United States, as a joke about stereotypes. It has since cause controversy including being removed from the list of Trending Topics by Twitter and the hashtag #SouthAfricansArePissed


Of course from an American context darkie means :

darky, darkie, darkey [ˈdɑːkɪ]
n pl darkies, darkeys Informal
1. an offensive word for a Black
2. Austral an offensive word for a native Australian


In other parts of the world, the term Darkie is associated with black people as well, and we have the asians who associate darkies with nice, white teeth:



As a result culture wars started. Black Americans, like myself were outraged, angry, and looking at it from the perspective of Stormfront invading Twitter. I was steady scratching my head because from first appearances from the stream of trending topics, I saw tweets like these:





I see this, I'm ready to curse out folks. These people aren't from South Africa, they're not black, and they are using black American stereotypes. Doesn't seem all that innocent of a trending topic.

A culture war ensued. South Africans were upset saying that Americans shouldn't be offended, and that America was pushing it's own morals on the rest of the world, like usual. Twitter removed the tag from it's top listings. It was still possible to contribute to the #thingsdarkiessay debate, it just wasn't listed on the trending topics list. The hashtag #SouthAfricansArePissed arose as a result. I guess in many South Africans minds, removal of this from the trending topics list was another case of American Imperialism. Then the whole stereotypes of black people get upset over "any little thing" and are "culturally ignorant" came forth to further ensure that there would be more tension and more divide.




I don't understand why it is cool to refer to yourself as a "darkie", much like I don't understand when people refer to themselves as "niggas." I just don't do that, it is offensive to me, and the biggest reason it was trending was because it got people in an uproar. I understand that "darkie" as a derogatory term does not apply to South Africans, but I know that the word "kaffir" or "nig nog" does. It doesn't mean I should go around using these words, even if they don't have any impact on my personally. I have no negative connotation to "kaffir", "nig nog", or many other words used around the world to refer to black people, because they don't personally impact me. I think that if you are using a global platform to express your opinions, you shouldn't be shocked when someone from another culture or region of the world might find something you say as offensive, strange, or just down right mean, especially if what you say takes on a different meaning in that part of the world.

I think this debate to be about ethnocentrism. The question now is who are being ethnocentric, the black Americans or the South Africans?

I think what angered me most is the South Africans were outraged at the black Americans having issues with the term "darkie", but not outraged at non South Africans using it in a derogatory way to stereotype and offend black Americans, taking "darkie" out of the "African pride" context they were proclaiming. They seemed more upset and focused on the "Us vs. Them" mentality of which blacks are better or more enlightened.

Again, it goes to show that just because we share a complexion, does not mean we share the same culture.

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