Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ethnic slurs

Storm about use of the derogatory term "coonass" (a slur against Acadians) by Alabama coach Nick Saban. Saban gave a non-apology apology, saying he could "understand how some would take offense." But afterwards he claimed "It's a term of endearment down in Louisiana." Erath attorney Warren Perrin, president of CODIFIL, however, says, "It is highly offensive."
"The most insulting and derogatory term levied against Acadians is the term 'coonass,' Perrin wrote. "The use of this offensive term re-affirms negative stereotypes and its vestiges of pre-civil rights era racial discrimination. This insulting slang was never a proud or complimentary term affixed to the Acadian people. We will not tolerate the use of this racial slur which has pejorative connotations."

Perrin also cited the Roach vs. Dresser Industrial Valve and Instrument lawsuit of 1980 in which an employee was allegedly terminated for protesting his superiors' use of the term coonass.

"The case resulted in a federal judge declaring Cajuns a bona fide minority group protected by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and thus protection from ethnic slurs like "coonass," Perrin said.

Perrin added that in 1981 that the Louisiana Legislature condemned the use of coonass.

"Cajuns over the years have been successful in discouraging the term's use, both by non-Cajuns and fellow Cajuns alike," Perrin said. "It's just not good for people visiting Louisiana to hear that word either. You can't get away from the vulgarity of the second part of the word."
Here and here.

1 comment:

Franklin Jennings said...

I have to admit, I've never met a Cajun who didn't use the term to describe himself, or who objected to being described as such.

Or at least they've been comfortable using the term around me, and me using the term. There are folks around whom I'll proudly describe myself as a Hillbilly, and there are folks I'd be tempted to torque in the head for using it in my presence.