Apr 15, 2009, 10:01 AM
Post #28 of 45
Rex and Jerezano:
Re: [jerezano] GRINGOS AND GRINGAS....what's in an appelation?
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Great input and you two have inspired me to tell another story.
Sometimes, when one begins to falsely assess oneself as a worldly person grounded in international moral thought and integrity, one is brought back to earth by reality and that happened to me this morning.
Yeaterday I posted a comment on dining on seafood in Marseilles and, as an aside, I commented that we had dined with a beloved aunt who was then a resident of the Marseilles suburb of La Rose. I mentioned that La Rose had been a charming small town until - and I paraphrase here - the government built massive public housing projects to provide housing for the "blackfeet" who were moving to France from Algeria during Algeria´s violent independence movement in the 1950s and 60s.
Now, I have lived in France and married into a French family and have had an interest in the course of French imperialism and the settlement of Algeria, which was once the land of the Berbers, by the Arabs and Europeans both of whom were unwelcome interlopers at one time. So I presumed myself adequately knowledgable to use the term "blackfoot" to describe European settlers in Algeria that was then considered, by the French at least, a department of France which made all Algerians, whether of European or North African ancestry, French.
Well, my wife taught me a valuable lesson this morning when she informed me that by using the term "blackfoot" I had branded myself a racist and had committed a serious faux pas. So, what does an Alabama boy, even one well traveled, know about these regional sensitivities? I tried to go back to my posting at that point and correct a mistake made inadvertently but it was too late to amend my error so there it is and, perhaps, there it should stay because my error is illustrative of what we are discussing - Rex most eruditely - regarding slang based on identifying any minority group whether racially, economically or politically motivated.
What makes my error even more comical is that I innocently inferred that the industrious and opportunistic (in a positive sense) Europeans who became refugees to France during the turmoil of the Algerian independence movement had somehow contributed to the urban squalor I observed in La Rose which was about as far from the truth as one could venture. Therefore, I committed a grievious error by communicating poorly.
This it seems to me, fortifies Rex´ comment that the use of slang with which one is not adequately familiar in describing any single group of people is always akin to treading on thin ice.
The fact that the common use of "gringo" in Zacatecas and the view among Chiapanecos that the word "gringo" is an inexcusable affront to people who might be so identified is evidence that we should all be careful indeed about using using words with which we are only marginally familiar when describing others from other cultural backgrounds.
Enough said. I´ll never use that phrase "blackfoot" again that´s for sure and I regret having used it in the first place. My error was made in all innocence but the intelligent thing to have done was, as my wife told me in extremely plain words today, to not mess with people you do not know when you are in places you do not truly understand.
(This post was edited by Hound Dog on Apr 15, 2009, 10:12 AM)