July 6, 2011

Racist terminology on MSNBC

A headline at MSNBC today reads "The jig is up -- men like to cuddle more". I'm amazed at their insensitivity.

No one should use the term "the jig is up". It means "the black guy is hanging in the tree" and does not belong in civilized discourse.

In the culture-free zone that is our media, I'm sure the dimwit writer who produced this headline wasn't aware of the phrase's meaning. At least, I hope s/he wasn't. But there's no excuse for ignorance.

On the other hand, when I googled the phrase today I only found one reference to this historical meaning. It was a question on a page labeled "Phrase Finder Derivation Discussion". The writer asked:
I once took a course in Black History, and we were told that the saying "The jig is up" referred to the lynching of a black... "is up" meant that the black had been hung/lynched... the rope around his neck lifted him up... now dead. In the past week, I have heard officials/speakers at two different graduation ceremonies use the phrase, and when I looked it up, I was NOT able to verify my interpretation learned in the Black History course. One of the graduation speaker was the actor Tom Hanks, and I would assume he would have pretty good knowledge of what he spoke... Anybody help me?
And the derivation fools wrote in response, "Nothing to do with lynching." I beg to differ. This was a phrase used in the South to indicate a "successful" lynching. That America has decided to forget this is pitiful and disturbing.

This fact may have fallen down the white memory hole but I guarantee you there are many African-Americans out there who are greatly offended when this phrase is used. And that's why MSNBC needs to apologize. 

Any people of color want to chime in on this? Do you find it offensive? (Okay, white people can comment too.)

67 comments:

Artichoke Annie said...

Sorry - I grew up with the phrase and it meant 'getting caught or nabbed' - it never had anything at all to do with blacks and lynching.

Here is a link which explains a bit of the origin: http://www.cbc.ca/news/indepth/words/gigjig.html

Though one can see how it could be interpreted as such, there are a lot of us who used that term with no racist intent what so ever.

"JIG IS UP - "The expression suggests that the dance is over and that the time has come to pay the fiddler. However, its derivation is more complicated. 'Jig' is a very old term for a lively dance, but in Elizabethan times the word became slang for a practical joke or a trick. 'The jig is up' - meaning your trick or game is finished, has been exposed, we're onto you now - derives from this obsolete slang word, not the 'jig' that is a lively dance." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). Another reference says a jig was "probably a dance commonly known throughout all of western Europe fifteen centuries or more ago. But in England, around 1600, 'jig' became also a slang term for a practical term, a bit of trickery." From "2107 Curious Word Origins, Sayings & Expressions from White Elephants to a Song and Dance" by Charles Earle Funk (Galahad Book, New York, 1993). "Jig" is also a racial slur, "a derogatory term for a black man." According to "...1950 Blesh 'All Played Ragtime' 23: ...ragtime piano was called 'jig piano' (in St. Louis) and the syncopating bands, like (Scott) Joplin's, were called 'jig bands.' This term, taken from jig dances, even came a little later to be a designation for the Negro himself..." From "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O, J.E. Lighter, Random House, New York, 1994. The black sheriff, played by Cleavon Little, in the Mel Brooks' movie "Blazing Saddles" did a little wordplay with the two unrelated phrases in the line: "The jig is up, AND GONE."

writenow said...

It doesn't matter whether people are aware of the racist connotation or not. It shouldn't be used because hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans are offended by it. I only knew the connotation you mention until I was taught about its racist history. And then I made sure never to use the phrase again, and to tell everyone when they used it, that they shouldn't.

Artichoke Annie said...

Not to beat a dead horse, but it just occurred to me that 'jig' is also a woodworking tool:

Definition of JIG
1 a : any of several lively springy dances in triple rhythm
b : music to which a jig may be danced
2: trick, game —used chiefly in the phrase the jig is up
3 a : any of several fishing devices that are jerked up and down or drawn through the water
b : a device used to maintain mechanically the correct positional relationship between a piece of work and the tool or between parts of work during assembly
c : a device in which crushed ore is concentrated or coal is cleaned by agitating in water

— in jig time
: in a short time : quickly

Origin of JIG
perhaps from Middle French giguer to frolic, from gigue fiddle, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German gīga fiddle; akin to Old Norse geiga to turn aside
First Known Use: circa 1560

I don't think it is always necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

writenow said...

Millions of people see it as racist. Therefore we should avoid using the phrase.

Artichoke Annie said...

On this one I will agree to disagree.

writenow said...

Of course you can disagree but let me try one more time.

It's not a phrase on which the future of democracy depends. It's not cherished by anyone, not held dear in the hearts of many. It holds little literary value. Basically, it's a toss-away phrase, a dime-a-dozen line.

Yet it cuts many to the quick. So why would we continue to use it? What is the great benefit in continuing to use a phrase that means to many people, "the n----- is hanging in the tree"? Why would we keep such a phrase alive? Because it's precious? To who?

It's a hurtful phrase that is fading from memory. Let's not infuse it with new life by putting it in headlines. That's still my point.

Artichoke Annie said...

OK, I just read through the astonishing 74 comments(UGH) to the MSNBC post by Kimberly Hayes Taylor. They were focused mostly on disputing that 'guys like to cuddle more'. No one mentioned the racist title, aren't these offenses usually picked up and jumped upon?

As for me I would say this is the first time I have heard that phrase in probably 50 years so I think it is dying out, perhaps dead, except for some lame headlines writer that probably came up with it via a Google search of 'the cat is out of the bag'.

'nuf... I need all my strength for my BIG book I am about to read.

Anonymous said...

I am completely offended by this saying. I happen to know it's a racist remark because I grew up in a small south Texas town in Brazoria County and on the walls of one of our high schools someone had written "no jigs allowed" my mother asked them to cover it, yet somehow they never got around to it. Very upsetting. Also, I just watched a show on I.D channel called Blood, lies, & alabis. This show was about Anthony Hopkins, a black preacher, who killed his wife & molested the children and when caught, the narrator says "the jig is finally up" The incident took place in Mississippi, are you kiddong me??? Of course they knew what they were speaking. How can whites just choose to ignore history? How can they use racist words they themselves invented towards blacks STILL AFTER ALL THESE YEARS? I'm disgusted. Its threads like these where we speak against it, we are keeping the truth alive. Please, if you ever hear or see words like this, speak out against it!!!

Anonymous said...

Are you mad? Listen to your idiotic comment, throw the baby out with the bathwater? I.e. throw the racist commentout because we've thrown out slavery? As if to say, lets not waste a gem of a remark as such? This jig is up literally translates into the nigger is up hanging. Don't quote a dictionary to dispell the truth when we are here to dispell the dictionary, the ignorant, and the idiots like you who jump on google tofind sayings to use inappropriately. You are quite the fool

Anonymous said...

Come on, just study how the phrase is used in sentences. For example, "The jig is up - men like to cuddle more."
Replace "The jig is up" with one of the meanings:
1) The black person is hanging - men like to cuddle more.
2) The dance is over, time to pay the fiddler - men like to cuddle more.
3) The trick or game is up - men like to cuddle more.

I agree the word "jig" as a slang is racist. However, do we need to never use it again because of that? Should we rename the shop tool? The dance?

See Lenny Bruce's standup bit on a similar word: It is a real eye-opener (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjqxgBAhTS8)

writenow said...

"However, do we need to never use it again because of that?"

Yes, we should never use the phrase again. See how simple that is? We can surely do without it, especially now that we know it causes people pain.

Anonymous said...

How pathetic. You see race in everything.

writenow said...

I think the previous comment is funny. It reminds me of the male trolls who lambaste feminists and are never willing to acknowledge their own sexism.

If you can't understand that a phrase once used to refer to a black person hanging in a tree is racist, then you're lost.

terrafirma said...

I am ashamed to admit that at almost 40 years old, I just today learned what this phrase really means. I had no idea. I could try to beg ignorance - I grew up in upstate NY without the etymological context of racism or the south. If I had ever been told of the origins of this phrase, I would never ever have used it -just as I have never used "other" words for their obvious vicious racism. It may be well for the author to realize the deep truth of their own account that some of these insults have vanished from white memory, if not from the lexicon. Gentle admonishment and education might be in order. I'm glad I was educated on the phrase before I insulted someone and embarrassed myself. I am sorry.

writenow said...

That's such a nice comment. Thank you.

Ben said...

I'll steer away from the phrase to be extra considerate, but I strongly contend that the FAR more common usage of the phrase, historically and currently, is to communicate "the ruse has been discovered". I can't speak for Mississippi. Raging at people who do not have hurtful intent is a more difficult, and typically less successful, path to enlightening others regarding an issue about which you have knowledge they do not.

writenow said...

That sounds like a sensible position. At this point (June 2013; this post has legs!) the whole thing reminds me of the brouhaha over the name of the Redskins team. Yes, there are fans who don't think of the name in any racist sense. They just love their Redskins.

But the man who named the team was an avowed racist, and he chose this name for his team specifically because he wanted to offend. It's hard to forget that.

Where words come from, and their original intent, matters. Thanks for commenting.

Anonymous said...

This country has clearly become over sensitive and thin skinned. Different cultures teach different things. You inevitably will offend someone in your life, whether you mean to or not. If someone says something, place it in the right context for which it was stated before getting your undies in a bunch. Everyone isn't out to get you.

Unknown said...

I'm sorry, but even cursory research will teach you that this phrase is old English and referred to a "trick being exposed". I do understand how the word "jig" became a racist slur in the 18 and 1900's but it didn't start out that way. Having said all that - I choose not to use the phrase out of respect for anyone who might be offended.

writenow said...

Good for you. That's the story: it offends a large group of people, so we shouldn't use the term.

Waynito said...

I am white, age 67. I grew up in the Eastern Shore of MD where a black man was lynched in 1939. I never knew anything but the racist meaning until I was older. For my time, and my place of birth any derivation from some Elizabethan dance is just hogwash. I still cringe when I see it in print, or in the media, and I am not even black. I heard many whites long for the time when lynching was possible.

writenow said...

It's so nice to get a comment like this. Thank you.

Cdailey said...

I am just so glad for this posting. I looked up the phrase before using it in my writing. I was unaware of its offensiveness-or maybe, on some level, I was because I thought to research? Anyway, now I know. So thanks.

writenow said...

That's great. And you're welcome .The tone on this comment thread is improving greatly. Nice to see.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry if I come across as being insensitive, but your assertion that "the jig is up" is racist is absurd. Research the term and you'll find that the reference to trickery or deception being found out is MUCH more common than any reference to black people.
Anyone familiar with the band Styx, and their song "Renegade"? Lyrics include " The jig is up, the news is out, they finally found me...." Do you really think they're refering to lynching a black person?
People that try to be offended, will be offended. Try not to be offended by things that are not offensive. Please don't respond to this by disagreeing with me, as that would be offensive to me..LOL

writenow said...

So let's see. A huge number of people who are familiar with the history of the phrase are greatly offended by it. But you aren't. So that settles the issue. Thanks for the clarification.

Anonymous said...

I've never heard the phrase, "The jig is up" used to refer to lynchings but I've heard it numerous times in 1930's, 1940's gangster movies from the mouths of stereotypical Irish gangster and cop characters to refer a scheme being found out. However, my personal testimony is perhaps no more authoritative than that of any of the people who claim to know the phrase has racist origins.

All I can say is that the etymology of "jiggaboo" leads to two possible origins: the first being derived from Bantu language, indicates an intra-ethnic origin, and the second, some portmanteau of "jigg" and "spook" relies on the original meaning of "jigg" as a style of dancing.

The original meaning of jigg is neither antiquated nor dead, despite what many here claim. Perhaps these claims are due to an ignorance of irish-american and rural culture.

In any case, the use of the phrase "the jig is up" as cited by the OP makes absolute sense if the meaning is taken, as typically and correctly indicated, "our little dance is over" and makes absolutely no sense if the meaning is supposed to be "we've completed a lynching".

The false etymology that ascribes racial implications to the phrase seems to be one of those false narratives gullible people who are seeking to be offended like to pass around the internet.

writenow said...

Those of you say that has no racial connotations are just ignoring facts. A huge number of African-American people heard the phrase used this way in the south. It definitely meant the black person is hanging in the tree. The fact that etymological theories, probably written by white people, have ignored this doesn't make it any less true. At human rights conventions around the country I have met old African-American people who have this recollection. They didn't make it up. The phrase still hurts. So don't use it.

Anonymous said...

can you cite a single reference to this alternate meaning you're attempting to push?

Bear in mind that a use of "the jigg is up" which winks at a double-entendre (such as the Blazing Saddles line referenced above) supports the original, correct meaning and not the one you're trying to push.

That's the challenge: find me some instance of anyone using the phrase "the jigg is up" to denote having lynched a black person. I'm afraid that "I heard that gazillions of old black guys told me so" is not evidence.

writenow said...

I worked at the NYC Commission on Human Rights for 23 years, from 1971 to 1994. During that time, I traveled to many human rights conventions, representing New York City.

A frequent feature of these conferences was the use of racially charged words and phrases by white people who were ignorant of the history of the terms. Older black participants who lived through the civil rights era -- and the lynchings that preceded it -- often brought up the phrase "the jig is up". They were horrified to hear it used in other contexts because the phrase was still charged, still hateful, still caused them so much pain when they heard it.

I was in my 20s and 30s then, but I was moved when I heard these older folks tell the story of this phrase. Can I rouse some of those people, who would now be about 120 years old, to fire up their computers and tell you of their experience? Doubtful.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this conversation. Why would I, a 66 year-old white guy, write this post if I hadn't had the experience of hearing about this phrase from those who know?

And more pointedly, why is this phrase so essential to your life that you would chance hurting others by using it? You can't find another phrase to use? This one is so precious to you that you must stick with it, even though you've been told it hurts some people dearly? I'm sorry, but this makes me wonder about your motivation.

Just toss the phrase. It's not precious, it's not special, it's just a set of words that were once misused in such a vicious way that they can never be spoken again in polite society. People like me get that. Apparently, people like you don't.

Justin Fleming said...

I'm going to go ahead and assume that no one you've ever met has heard the phrase "the jigg is up" used by a lyncher in reference to a lynching. Knowing that there is a slur, "jiggaboo", I can only propose that one or more of three things have gone wrong in your cognition of this. You may, in ignorance, have misheard these testimonies. The people whom you spoke with, in ignorance of what a jigg is, were confused about the meaning of the phrase. The people with whom you spoke were deliberately confusing things, as in the case of the "Black Holes" Hallmark card incident.

You ask why the phrase is so important to me. It's not important to me. I'm not the one all lathered up about it. You are. You're the one who wrote a blog post attributing evil properties to it and issuing a silly cease and desist order to the general population. To me, it is simply innocuous language that I may or may not use if I feel like it when I feel like it and it bothers me not one bit whether someone decides to take offense to it because their offense would necessarily be a result of their ignorance.

Today's lunch money is neither special nor precious. If I let the schoolyard bully take it today, my mother will give me an equal amount tomorrow and perhaps the bully will steal someone else's lunch money then. But I will never let the bully take my lunch money. Ever. Your gambit of "why disobey my nonsensical edict given that the stakes are so low for compliance?" is, frankly, fascist talk.

writenow said...

Ah, now I understand exactly who you are. I hereby step aside from this thread and leave it to you guys.

By the way, this post is only one among thousands that I've written. It was a toss-off post, nothing major at all. It's only major to you guys who want so desperately to fight it. (Funny how you're all white guys, huh?)

This isn't a PC blog. It's a gay atheist writer's blog that focuses on the stupidity of religion and the joy of writing fiction. The post you're commenting on wasn't major or particularly significant. It was just a short post about a memory that was triggered when I heard this phrase used.

See, I'm not the one with the problem here. It's you guys, who think it's "fascist" to take the feelings of others into account before we speak.

PS: I'll bet you harass women on Reddit, too. Gotcha.

As I say, I'm leaving this thread behind. Good people will read it and know what to do. The rest of you can just wallow among yourselves.

Anonymous said...

Here's my speculation:

The phrase originated as a non-racist reference to dancing. Then, in a feat of Cracker irony, a witness/participant to a lynching remarked, "The jig is up." This was repeated. The descendants of lynching culture used the phrase with quiet relish for its double-meaning, which was lost on some of their interlocutors. Whether the phrase would have survived until now even without its detour into lynching culture is not the point. Enough people are offended by the phrase, and for good reason, that using it carries the risk of being seen as racist.

Anonymous said...

So I do woodworking. Can you suggest an acceptable term I can use instead of a woodworking jig, which has been in use for centuries? I would appreciate your enlightened advice. Also, I'm sure dancers would appreciate your advice on what to now call that lively dance by the same name. How about a list of all the other words we can't use because you have a limited understanding of history and linguistics, not to mention a small vocabulary. Thanks!!!

writenow said...

I think I'll do a fresh new post to highlight the stupidity and white privilege displayed by most of the commenters on this post. Should be fun!

Anonymous said...

It is not special TO YOU. TO YOU it is a throw away phrase.

To others, it is a part of a shared history of language and culture going back many hundreds of years. Why is it that you get to decide for everyone to remove a part of our language history?

It is nothing like "Redskins" at all. That was a term made up to be derogatory toward a group of people. "The jig is up" is a phrase out of old English that you are arguing was briefly (in relative terms) co-opted by racists.

If you can't rouse the people familiar with that period from death to verify it, why on earth does everyone else need to modify the language to suit them?

writenow said...

As I say, argue among yourselves. You do it so well.

Anonymous said...

My Scottish Grandfather told me never to use the word J&& because one derivative was that slaves were used to do meaningless manual jobs such as hold material in place while it was being worked on. His understanding was the Boo version which was used to scare young children to act correctly and was then shortened to J&&. So my understanding was that the Fixture that replaced the J&& was sometimes called a J&&. I had never heard the J77 is Up applied as described here. However as has been said it it offends, stop using it.

photo3op said...

The reference to dance is apt but it only became popular as a reference to the jittery, last vestiges of life in a hung person as his feet twitched. It was then transferred to dance as a lively spring in ones step as he danced…but originally….. :(

phillip giroux said...

The question seems to be whether a phrase that originated as a sickeningly offensive statement can become acceptable over time as the meaning changes and more people are unaware of it's original meaning. I've mentioned the offensive connotation to people when they say it and they simply have no clue of what I'm talking about. So it seems that the biggest issue is that the history of the phrase has been forgotten by the general populace which is a sad commentary. I do not use the phrase ever since I learned it's true meaning but I can't jump to offense when others use it in ignorance. Education of history is at fault here.

Anonymous said...

Seriously? Confusing "jig" with another word? Next you'll say it's just better not to use the word "niggardly" in case small minds get confused. All of society doesn't bend to people that insist on rewriting the etymology of "jig" and retconning it's meaning with implanted offensiveness. Nothing is gained by demonizing words and it "jig" is off-limits then most of the English language can be equally discarded. How about the short-list: the words that you can not - after searching the planet - link to thoughtcrime.

Aaron Marks said...

Jig is also short for jigaboo

Aaron Marks said...

Jig is also short for jigaboo

writenow said...

To Aaron Marks: Your comment was much longer but when I published it, the main body of the comment disappeared. I have no idea why. I did read it though. Yes, I understand that we Americans this term in the 80s, 90s and this century without meaning anything offensive. I did it too. We just didn't know about the earlier meaning, which still hovers in the air over the phrase "the jig is up". Thing is, we don't need the phrase. And since older people have told us about its earlier, evil connotation, it's best to toss it in the rubbish. But yes, yes, yes. I truly understand that today, most people mean nothing bad at all when they say it. This was just a simple, short post about the history of the term. But comments have blown it up in a major way. Anyway, sorry your comment got lost. I've never seen that happen before on the blog.

Anonymous said...

The ignorance in your article is overwhelming.

https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/the_jig_is_up

As a Professor of Applied Linguistics this was brought to my attention and used as an example of how ignorance to language can be so absurd as to slander an author such as MSNBC.

This is an outright shame.

writenow said...

The phrase hurts people and so it shouldn't be used. This is quite a simple concept. I feel sorry for your students

Anonymous said...

This explanation certainly could be valid. I am no etymologist and it is early in my research, but as of yet I have found no scholarly account that supports it. The Wikki is not generally regarded as a reliable source, much less a scholarly one. No professor I know will accept it as a reference, much less invoke it as etymological proof.

I have yet to see the phrase cited in literature before the 1770's and most so far do claim it's origin as the U.S..

In the vast majority of uses I have seen, the context has almost exclusively been that one was caught and will pay for their misdeeds.

writenow said...

I accidentally deleted this comment:

blakjava has left a new comment on your post "Racist terminology on MSNBC":

As a Black man, what offends me is that a FEW Black people will play the victim role whenever possible. The phrase, "The jig is up" has nothing to do with Black people hanging from trees. And the bad part about it is that it doesn't even make sense if used in that way. Some people believe something is true because, for some ulterior motive, they want it to be true.

writenow said...

Back to me, the blogger. I met many older people who remember the true meaning of the phrase. They weren't victims, they were witnesses.

Billy Boy said...

“the true meaning of the phrase”,,, really? The word “Jig” refers to an Irish dance and the accompanying music, and has been used since the 1500s. It was most likely derived from the French word “giguer” or Italian “giga”; meaning to jump, so the original form of the word had most likely been used for centuries. The racist interpretation is undoubtedly must more recent. Carpenters use the word “jig”, in reference to a template. Fishermen use the word “jig” in reference to a fishing technique; to frequently raise and lower the bait (jump). When the jigging technique is used, the lure attached to the end of the line is a “jig”. Racists use the word “jig” and they also use “shine”, “coon”, “cloudy” and many, many more. But, shine makers make moonshine, coon hunters hunt raccoons and when it is cloudy, it is not sunny. Again, there is no doubt that these words were being used long before racists adopted them. A right thinking person would certainly consider the context of their usage before labeling them offensive.

I can say that I have a dog with five legs, but calling a tail, a leg, doesn’t make it so.

Beyond the words, is the emotion; if you are offended by what people say, you are allowing them to control you. I know which words are offensive (to me) but I won’t be offended by their usage. At the same time, I cannot be forced to change my mind set and suddenly become one of the newly offended. I will not submit or surrender to ignorance, from either side.

writenow said...

As I say, talk among yourselves, bigots.

Spurgeon Butler said...

I do so agree!

Unknown said...

You are so far left you have almost come about a full 360! Unreal.....

Michael Prendergast said...

God rules dude! Heh! Get your goat?!

writenow said...

This post gets more idiotic comments than anything I've ever written. It's kind of fun to watch the stupidity roll in.

SadAmerican said...

Boom.The phrase landed again on CNN. Ironically on the racially heated topic about people of color and the policies of the police.

Anonymous said...

How do you know millions of people see it as racist? Have you talked to every one of these people specifically to ask them? (rhetorical question) WTF? People are here to dispell the dictionary? You cannot dispell something that is a fact of the English language. Bottom line, there are plenty of words or sayings that have multiple meanings or definitions. Stop being ignorant and trying to vilify people who you know are not using these terms in a negative, racist, etc. way. I just saw on Fox News (a network that actually tells the truth and is impartial and unbiased, don't believe the lies) an African-American woman who is an independent, business owner, and who believes in capitalism. She volunteered and helped Bernie Sanders campaign. She just said this exact quote or saying that you say is offensive: "The jig is up", in regards to Hilary Clinton, the rigging of the voting system and the lies of the Democratic party. The "PC" culture/world need to stop trying to silence and bully people that tell the truth. Even if you are ignorant and refuse to listen to facts and hear the other side, EVERYONE is entitled to their opinion. The constitution protects freedom of speech in America.

Anonymous said...

The issue here is, YOU think you are always right. Your opinion is the only one that matters and the hell with anyone else that doesn't fully agree. You come across as pompous and presumptive.

Clearly you are showing a bias against "straight white men" (Nobody should be labeled as a color or anything else, really. There aren't countries called 'Black' & 'White'. Whatever country you are a citizen of, that's what you should be, or better yet, a human being - anything else is irrelevant and has been mainly implemented for political reasons). Your blog is discriminatory, as originally you tried to keep Anglo/European- American people from even responding but positioned it as sort of a joke. Thankfully, this is the internet so it is more difficult for you to discriminate or silence people. You are assuming the people that don't agree with you are "all white guys" - you don't know what everyone's race or sex is unless you've seen them. But more importantly, it doesn't matter. You ask people their opinion and then when you don't like the answers/responses, you resort to bullying, offensive comments and wild accusations. You accuse a random person who you don't know personally and know NOTHING about of harassing woman? Yet you talk about being mindful of one's feelings(?). The hypocrisy is telling but this all too common in today's society (more on that later).

I don't condone being hurtful or inconsiderate of others feelings but as people on here have stated, anyone can decide they are offended by any and everything a person says. It will get to the point where we can't even communicate for fear of offending someone. People need to be intelligent enough to decipher when someone is trying to be purposely offensive or not. There is enough divisiveness in this world and things like this just provoke anger and dissension.

The problem with your line of thinking in this world is you assume that only (or worse yet, all) "straight white males" can be (are) bigots, racists, sexists, homophobes, xénophobes or prejudiced. That is the biggest lie being disseminated by "pc culture", special interest groups, media groups like CNN, ignorant people in social media & online. ANYONE can be biased against or for something or someone. The aim of this propaganda (political or otherwise) is to present opinion as fact. Drawing assumptive conclusions and/or leaving out information and fact, is extremely irresponsible at the very least. If a person doesn't agree, tries to show another "side" or calls them out on their manipulation and falsehoods, they are immediately silenced, vilified and branded. This is deceptive, dangerous and divisive.

Per your statement, you are prejudiced against religion. Whether someone is religious or atheist, that is their right and there is nothing wrong with either. You contradict yourself by seemingly making a big deal about this topic based on the passion in all your comments and taking the time to create this blog but then you say this post isn't "major or particularly significant". You start a conversation and when every single answer isn't what you want, you "take your ball and go home". Age notwithstanding, some would view that as immature. (Part 1)

Anonymous said...

Opinions are as different as the people that express them. You may feel I have strayed a bit from the actual phrase in question. That's because yes, words can hurt, but in the end they are just words and it isn't as important as how you treat different people with different opinions. This goes at the very heart of your argument - how African-Americans were treated in the past, one of the reasons being that they were supposedly "different". Whatever that means because we are all human beings. Our differences are what make us beautiful, special and unique. You and like minded people think you can do and say anything because "my cause is just and right". However, you end up doing the same thing you reprimand them for. The "irony alarm" is going off loudly.
(Part 2)

[Please don't "silence" me because I see this is pending approval. Additionally, I saw that some posts were deleted or parts were apparently "lost/omitted". So I'm not real confident this will happen]

ShellyBytheshore said...

Thank you for the info. I grew up in the north with no African American culture. I have heard that phrase always referred to as "your deception has been uncovered". I never heard it as a racist comment. Now I know better and I would hate to offend someone. Now if we can get all those other words out of our mouths like Bitch.

writenow said...

Good for you. It is so nice to see a rational, humane comment on this post. Such a simple thing: it offends African-Americans, so let's toss it. But a lot of people hang onto their racism with both hands. And I am so with you on the bitch thing. The other day I realized there isn't even a male equivalent for the word "tramp". Only women can be tramps, apparently -- which is so weird when you notice that it's men who are pushing for sex all the time. Our world needs to improve. Thanks for commenting, ShellyBytheshore.

Lulu said...

I just heard it used today, 16 Feb 2017, on 20/20 and must admit I was surprised to hear it. The first thing I thought of was that it was a racist remark not used anymore. I looked it up and the meaning does speak of a dance. Fine, but I remember growing up as a young white girl my parents taught us never to say it as "jig" referred to a black person. Good enough for me.

Mrstesla said...

YEAH!!! Agree. Perfectly stated

Dave said...

I just heard it from a guest on MSNBC tonight. This prompt me to look it up. With the variety of definitions and origins, I did not see the one that was explained to me by a teacher over 50 years ago in grade school. I was told that it originated in the fields of the south when a "field boss" observed a black person jumping up to flee. The boss would yell "the jig is up" to alert other bosses to chase and capture the fleeing slave. Definitely a racist term as jig was short for jig-a-boo, a slang for a black person. A very sad time in our history.

Anonymous said...

If ur from the garbage South then the phrase means something. Southern culture and history is just garbage. It's the "squeal like the pig" culture from the movie "Deliverance". Who cares. I won't use it just because of that fact and not because it offends black people.

Anonymous said...

I am very familiar with the innocent meaning of this phrase—it is neither dead nor dying for me—and this is the first time I have heard even a whisper of the racist meaning that apparently existed in the South. It seems clear that the racist meaning originated as a cruel joke on the innocent one, based on the unrelated meanings of "jig". ("is up" in the sense of "has been lynched" works for this purpose, but is not a natural usage in my opinion.)

So what we have here is, IMO, entirely different from words or phrases that were always racist, or ones that have become so corrupted that their innocent meaning was lost or overwhelmed. Instead we have a phrase that was originally innocent (of racism); it was used in a certain region to some extent in a racist way, but elsewhere remained innocent; and today that racist meaning is out of use and the innocent meaning persists—unless you have your way.

You said before that "Where words come from, and their original intent, matters." Do you stand by that? Because when they come from a Minnesotan who never even heard of the racist usage, which he inherited from a long history of usage of the phrase which was never once racist in application or origin for all the centuries of that lineage, how can its usage by him be racist by that standard? This situation is utterly different from the Redskins controversy. I suppose I'll try to avoid the phrase if I ever end up in Mississippi, though, so it's good to talk about these things.

tomsawit@gmail.com said...

To understand fully the meaning of the phrase 'the jig is up, we have to first recognize it's context.
I'm sure every American living today has gone on a picnic. Do you realize that the term picnic is a polished up way of saying pick a big. In the south during the heyday of slavery one plantation owner would invite other plantation owners in the county or region to come have a Saturday celebration. These families would get together and discuss issues of the day and the festivities would end in a slave being chosen by a guest to be lynched.
They would then pick a nig, and hang him for their amusement. Commonly as someone would be hanged the poor souls institinct is to kick his legs in a last ditch effort for survival. This is why when someone is dancing wildly, legs flailing, would be said to be 'dancing the jig'.