The Least of These: George Floyd as Icon

Mama, by Kelly Latimore*

I am an old guy, white not Black.

Once, I referred to Blacks as African-Americans.

Once, I referred to African-Americans as Negros.

I admit to being confused over what to call Black Americans. The English language is restless, and keeps evolving. So does society. Pressing the shift for the “B” in Black is fine with me. I’m also happy to do the two-key deed to upgrade the “W” in White.

As an aging White baby boomer, I overheard my parents’ and grandparents’ generations use colored when referring to Blacks. Martin Luther King Jr. chose Negro for his speeches and sermons. Negro now seems outdated, even jarring. I suspect, back then, he carefully articulated Negro to distinguish it from the other N-word: nigger. Though nigger wasn’t used by everyone in prior generations, I recall hearing it as often as Jap for Japanese or greaser for Hispanics.

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2 Comments

  1. I am always humbled and challenged by this question. I have walked through all the stages of experiencing the horror and shame of George Floyd’s murder. I wish I could say that I saw Jesus lying on the pavement. I am, again, brought to my knees, weeping. Thank you for your insight.

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