Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Racist terminology on MSNBC

A headline at MSNBC today reads "The jig is up -- men like to cuddle more". I'm amazed at their insensitivity.

No one should use the term "the jig is up". It means "the black guy is hanging in the tree" and does not belong in civilized discourse.

In the culture-free zone that is our media, I'm sure the dimwit writer who produced this headline wasn't aware of the phrase's meaning. At least, I hope s/he wasn't. But there's no excuse for ignorance.

On the other hand, when I googled the phrase today I only found one reference to this historical meaning. It was a question on a page labeled "Phrase Finder Derivation Discussion". The writer asked:
I once took a course in Black History, and we were told that the saying "The jig is up" referred to the lynching of a black... "is up" meant that the black had been hung/lynched... the rope around his neck lifted him up... now dead. In the past week, I have heard officials/speakers at two different graduation ceremonies use the phrase, and when I looked it up, I was NOT able to verify my interpretation learned in the Black History course. One of the graduation speaker was the actor Tom Hanks, and I would assume he would have pretty good knowledge of what he spoke... Anybody help me?
And the derivation fools wrote in response, "Nothing to do with lynching." I beg to differ. This was a phrase used in the South to indicate a "successful" lynching. That America has decided to forget this is pitiful and disturbing.

This fact may have fallen down the white memory hole but I guarantee you there are many African-Americans out there who are greatly offended when this phrase is used. And that's why MSNBC needs to apologize. 

Any people of color want to chime in on this? Do you find it offensive? (Okay, white people can comment too.)