Tar Baby

Oh no he didn’t. It’s amazing what people will say when they think you ain’t in the room.

SNOW: Having said that, I don’t want to hug the tar baby of trying to comment on the program, the alleged program, the existence of which I can neither confirm nor deny.


QUESTION: What are your personal goals? What do you hope to achieve here? Will you continue to televise these briefings? And would you put into English the phrase (OFF-MIKE) the tarbaby?

SNOW: Well, I believe hug the tarbaby, we could trace that back to American lore.

Oh yeah. We can “trace it back to American lore.” Right back to some old stereotypes. Given the conservative nostalgia for “the good old days” (good for whom, nobody ever says) it shouldn’t
surprise me.

Tarbaby Tar20Baby

Remus F271Fa6E

And as an African American born and raised in the South, I’ve been called a “tar baby” once or twice in my life. A high school acquaintance called me that as a nickname, until I enlightened her on how not funny it was. It wasn’t funny, innocent or harmless then, and the use of the phrase isn’t any of those things now either.

I learned to watch carefully what some white people say when it comes to race, and to figure out really quickly just where they stood on the subject by what they said. The challenge was that amongst themselves some white folks talked very differently than they would if a black person was around. A “tar baby” baby reference would tell me just about all I needed to know about where I stood with the person who used it, and what — in their heart of hearts — they thought of people like me, but I’d never be likely to hear it because what’s said depends on whose in the room.

Snow must have forgotten that in that setting all of America — black and white — is “in the room.” The only other assumption I can make is that he knew that and used the phrase (consciously or not) to reach a particular demographic of Americans “in the room,” if you know what I mean. Black folks aren’t the only people who know what’s implied behind that reference. Some white folks will recognize it too, and upon hearing it will recognize one of their own.

Consciously or not, that was probably the whole point, if you know what I mean.

About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
This entry was posted in Culture, Current Events, Politics, Race. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Tar Baby

  1. Katharine says:

    What decade is this moron from? My jaw is on the floor from shock. I mean, this administration has made some serious blunders, but holy smokes … memo to Tony: best not to use the terms “wetback” and “Chink” when discussing the immigration issue.

  2. Nyeelah says:

    I get so tired of black folks getting upset over words but never over the important issues. What about the fact that of the laborers rebuilding New Orleans are illegal immigrants. What about the fact that our children are lagging far behind in the areas of reading, writing, math and science. What about the fact that many black homes still don’t have personal computers. What about the fact that while we make up a small percentage of the country, we make up the majority of inmates in local, county, and federal institutions. Please call me a tar baby, nigga, porch monkey, coon, spook, jig, or any other term you can think of but give me my 40 acres and mule.

    Wake up black folks and remember “sticks and stones may break my bones but WORDS CAN NEVER HURT ME” PS. if you think that dubya hadn’t used the words, niggas and wetback you are kidding yourself.

  3. sharon says:

    does a robe and hood come with the new job, Tony???

  4. Houston says:

    Maybe it’s just me, but as a mixed-race, white-identified expatriat Southerner, I do not think of African-Americans when I read or hear the word “tar baby.” I think of a morality tale instead. Go ahead and feel superior to Snow for using the word, but I’m much more saddened to hear young Black kids calling each other “nigga this” and “nigga that” on a daily basis as I traverse around my city.

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