9 Common Phrases That Are Actually Racist

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It may come as a surprise that a lot of the everyday terms in our lexicon have racist origins.

So maybe the next time you’re about to use one of these words or phrases, you’ll think twice because you’ll recognize they have some serious connotations.

Here’s a little history lesson for all of us:

1. Thug

A thug is a violent criminal, so referring to protesters by that term is way off base and offensive.

2. Grandfather Clause

From the Encyclopedia Britannica: “Grandfather clause, statutory or constitutional device enacted by seven Southern states between 1895 and 1910 to deny suffrage to African Americans. It provided that those who had enjoyed the right to vote prior to 1866 or 1867, or their lineal descendants, would be exempt from educational, property, or tax requirements for voting. Because the former slaves had not been granted the franchise until the adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment in 1870, those clauses worked effectively to exclude black people from the vote but assured the franchise to many impoverished and illiterate whites.”

3. Gypsy or “Gyp”

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

“Gypsy” is a slur referring to the Roma people, who have been outcasts throughout much of history. The word “Gypsy” and the term “gyp” or “to get gypped” means to get conned or ripped off because of the stereotype of Roma as thieves.

5. Uppity

5. Sold Down the River

A literal reference to slaves being sold down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

6. Welfare Queen

This term was first popularized during Ronald Reagan’s 1976 presidential campaign and was used to portray people on welfare as taking advantage of the system.

7. Shuck and Jive

This term is a throwback to the days of slavery and refers to “the fact that black slaves sang and shouted gleefully during corn-shucking season, and this behavior, along with lying and teasing, became a part of the protective and evasive behavior normally adopted towards white people in ‘ traditional’ race relations.”

Obviously, using that term to describe President Obama was not a smart move.

8. Long Time No See

This term was first used to make fun of Native Americans, mocking a traditional greeting.

9. The Peanut Gallery

Think twice before you use any of these terms again.