Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cracker

I was perusing the Urban Dictionary today and found an underground eruption of faux outrage over its supposed meaning and origin.

Cracker (n) - Southern white trash. A redneck. Especially from Georgia or Florida.

White Southerners insist the word is racist, the equal of the word nigger. That is silly. For 65 years, the minor league baseball team in Atlanta was nicknames the Crackers (see logo). The Negro League baseball team was called the Atlanta Black Crackers.

The Origin of Cracker
What is certainly not true is the common claim of revisionist Southerners that it comes as a derogatory word for overseers who "cracked the whip" at their slaves. This interpretation assumes the word was coined by black slaves and somehow was adopted by white Southerners. That just did not happen in the segregated societies of the Old South in the 19th century.

The word meaning "poor white trash" has been traced as far back as 1766 in a letter written by the Earl of Dartmouth.
I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas and Georgia, who often change their places of abode. ~ source
And from an article written by W. J. Cash in 1935.
In dancing and fiddling when his ministers will let him, in fantastic religion, in hard drinking and hard fighting and hard loving, but above all in violence--above all, in violence toward the Negro. And perforce, too, the ennui, the bitterness, the viciousness, bred in him by the always-narrowing conditions of his life, pour over to the elaboration of this pattern, to making him at his worst a dangerous neurotic, a hair-trigger killer, a man-burner, a pig quite capable of incest--in brief, everything that William Faulkner and Erskine Caldwell have made him out to be, and perhaps something more. ~ Genesis of the Southern Cracker

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