These Common Words And Phrases Have Racist Origins

June 17, 2020

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It can be a jarring experience to learn a common word or phrase you’ve been using for years is actually kind of racist, sexist or homophobic. While English certainly has its fair share of racist words and phrases, it also has a baffling number of synonyms and alternative ways of saying something. Fortunately, that makes it pretty easy to swap out the word or phrase you’ve been saying for a more innocuous one. For instance, getting "gypped/jipped" is what we use to describe being ripped off.  However gypped comes from the word “Gypsy,” which is a derogatory name for the Romani people (also known as the Roma). A stereotype arose that the Roma were thieves, which led to the use of the term “gypped.” So stick with "ripped off" or "cheated" instead. We use hip hip hoory to congratulate someone or something.  But the phrase is derived from the anti-Semitic chant “Hep hep!”. This was a rallying cry to attack Jewish people in and around the German Confederacy in 1819, during what came to be known as the “Hep-Hep riots.” At some point, “hep hep” became “hip hip,” and “hooray” was added to the end. So drop the "hip-hip" part and just say hooray. A commonly used phrase is "grandfathered in," which we use when people or companies are allowed to continue following an existing set of rules, even after new rules are put in place. However it has roots in racism. The 15th Amendment was passed in 1870, giving Black American men the right to vote. However a number of states instituted poll taxes and literacy tests to make voting more difficult for Black people. They created laws, known as “the grandfather clause,” saying that if you could vote before the 15th Amendment was passed or were the lineal descendant of a voter, you didn’t have to take the tests or pay the poll tax. In other words, if you were white, you were “grandfathered in” to being allowed to vote.

SOURCE: Babbel Magazine

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