3 Common English Sayings with Racist Origins

Today you’ll learn the racist origins of 3 very common English phrases, and one of the most talked about movies of 2017.

In my country, especially these days, race is on our minds.

Needless to say, the temperament and statements of our current president have allowed people with racist leanings to feel free to express themselves- sometimes verbally, and, other times, physically.

Part of this conversation in the U.S. revolves around the fact that there has always been racism, and the roots of current challenges faced by minorities reach far back in our history.

Fear of the other’ has always been a part of society’s mentality, and you’ll be surprised by the origins of today’s phrases.

Common Phrases with Racist Roots

Long time no see- We say this all the time, when you meet a person who you’ve not seen in a while.

However, it actually entered our language in the late 19th to early 20th century, as a way to mock Native Americans. They spoke pidgin English (a form of English spoken by non-natives with many mistakes), and it was actually a translation of a greeting from their native language. source

Uppity- This adjective describes someone who is acting arrogantly, or acting like they’re better than you or other people. It is definitely a common word.

The original use, however, was only used in the American South to describe black people who didn’t ‘know their place’. So, if a white person though a black person was talking or behaving above their class (which was thought to be lower than whites), the white person would have called them ‘uppity’. source

Chop chop- We say this to someone when we want them to hurry up, or move more quickly.

It came from the Cantonese word ‘kap’, meaning to hurry. This word entered the pidgin English sailors used on ships, and in speaking with Chinese traders. It used to have a negative, rude connotation, only uttered by someone with power, talking to a person as below them in class. source

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Just to be clear, we do use all of these phrases today, and they are no longer racist, nor do they have negative connotations.

However, a look at etymology is a reminder of the dark history, and a motivation to be empathetic to others in the present.

Pop Culture R&R

Get Out was one of the most talked about movies of 2017.

It was written and directed by Jordan Peele, who was most well-known for his sketch comedy work on the show Key and Peele. (Which I LOVED. On of my favorite sketches is below!)

The plot revolves around the black boyfriend of a white woman, and their trip to meet her parents.

It is in the horror movie genre, but that’s unfair, because it’s so much more! Sure, there are definitely scares, but there’s also funny bits.

Above all, though, it shows you how racism is still deeply embedded our society.

This is really a movie you have to watch a couple times. Not only due to it’s impeccably entertaining quality, but what it makes you think about.

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s one of my favorite Key and Peele sketches: