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Apes and colour-prejudice

Posted by Lewis on September 23, 2005

In Reply to: Yard apes posted by Steve E on September 19, 2005

: : : : : : Is "yard apes" a racist slur? Did it in fact originate in slave days?

: : : : : : Has it morphed into a generic term for young children -- like "rug rats" and "crumb crushers"? Was this the way this woman was using the term?

: : : : : : Discuss.

: : : : : :

: : : : : : Greenville Tech official resigns over remark
: : : : : : Official twice used racial slur to refer to Katrina evacuees

: : : : : : Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - 4:34 pm

: : : : : : By Ben Szobody
: : : : : : STAFF WRITER
: : : : : :

: : : : : : A Greenville Technical College official who twice referred to New Orleans evacuees in Greenville as "yard apes" has resigned, school officials said.

: : : : : : "She's not a member of this institution today," said president Tom Barton. "Too much damage had been done."

: : : : : : Renee Holcombe, formerly an associate vice president for student services with a staff of about 40, told employees in two separate briefings last week that the school's aid for the mostly black hurricane victims staying at the Palmetto Expo Center would include sending yellow buses to pick up the "yard apes," said Barton and senior vice president Ben Dillard...

: : : : : : Reached at her home this afternoon, Holcombe said she was "numb and shocked." She declined further comment.

: : : : : That's a new one on me. Never heard the expression. But everyone at Greenville Tech seems to have recognized it as a racial slur. I've gotta get out more. I'm not up on my racial slurs. SS

: : : : I've heard it used. But as a term for little children, not as a racial slur.

: : : When I googled the phrase (which I'd never heard before either) I got a bunch of hits, some using it as a racial slur, but most not. This case is a little closer to the line than the famous "niggardly" resignation of a few years ago, given that the term can in some cases be used as an actual slur.

: : I don't think it is a racial slur. But I would never use it in reference to black children because it could be taken as such.

: Reading the context provided, I can't imagine why the speaker would not simply say "... yellow buses to pick up the people..." rather than use something which clearly, to me at least, was meant to imply something negative. The issue of an actual racial slur aside for the moment, I believe she meant some type of offensive connotation.

aren't many apes Great?

if one accepts the accounts of the lawlessness that went on in the ?Superdome in the Big Easy, somebody responsible for bringing the anarchic underclass to their town might feel disparaging remarks were justified, based on behaviour not race. that doesn't excuse racism, but with the extreme poor being more often black, it might be difficult to say anything without it being construed racially.
an underclass would be closer to barbarism than those with more to lose, but they still have choices and bringing lawless elements into a commuity threatens it.

'yard apes' shouldn't be inherently racist any more than 'rug rats' would. There is however the issue of history in which racists likened dark skinned people to apes to justify mistreating them having labelled them sub-human. Africans would be 'closer to apes' than whites, because there are very few indigenous apes in Europe and the great apes are mainly dark-furred. that's nature for you. however, 'white' people are closer in colour to pigs, so we don't escape 'racist' (colourist) insults either.
apes/pigs - both useful and part of nature's rich web of interdependent species.

BTW does anybody else think that 'colour-prejudice' is a better description than 'racist'? after all, when somebody abuses somebody of their own country based on skin-colour, it could be many generations before t hey might differ in 'race'?