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Coon Phrase

Posted by --- on September 11, 2000

I heard this phrase today and it took me for a loop because it had no relationship to the conversation at hand nor did it serve a purpose in the conversation:

"I'm as happy as a coon eating grapes"

Unlike some people involved in the conversation, I didn't laugh...I'm not one to laugh or agree to a phrase unless I'm clear of its meaning. Infact, for some reason, I felt embarrassed for the person using it because it just felt "unright" as the person said it with a big smile and grin.

Thinking "coon" was short for racoon...I didn't see how the phrase related had a connection to the conversation. Having lived in the Midwest while in college, I'v heard "coon" used before....I won't go into the story.......it brought blushing faces to some who were sitting in the persence of a culturally mixed group.
I asked a family member who is a Senior Citizen. He said he had heard of the expression used many times in the south where he's from and it was always made in reference with degragotory meaning. (The latter of the Webster Dictionary meaning).

I looked it up in the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.
1. racoon [Collog.] 2. A Negro; vulgar term of prejudice and contempt. [Slang]

Okay, so if I greeted you with, "Hi, how are you"?
What would be the meaning of greeting me with
"I'm as happy as a coon eating grapes" .

My little sister said she wouldn't be surprise if it orginally went like "I'm as happy as a coon eating watermelon". She feels it's a "redneck" slang.
(Is the term redneck offensive...I don't want to be found doing something that belittles others).

Now, to me, none of them seem the logic answer or response to "Hi, how are you"? A racoon eating grapes--do they eat grapes...if they do why are they happy about it? Or an African-American (Negro as the dictionary printed it) eating grapes...why would they be happy eating grapes as opposed to anyone else eating grapes?

Please E-mail privately if you don't want to answer on the board due to juveniles reading this site...although juveniles heard it in the conversation today.

I would like to learn more about us "humans" each day of my life so any help on this phrase would be appreciated.

My school's E-mail address is: HISLrningVillage@aol.com

Thankyou!