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Hey Gringo

  1. Sep 16, 2007 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    I was reminded of this the other day, and since pc language is such a big deal these days, it seems fair to mention one that has slipped under the RADAR, IMO.

    I grew up in an area with a significant Hispanic population. Some of my best buds have been Mexican, and one of the most significant relationships in my life was with a Mexican girl. In my experience, Gringo really is an insulting word; at least as much as me saying, "hey Mexican", instead of "hey Raúl". And being that it is not limited to a country of origin but rather any number of cultures comprised of Caucasians, it could be considered a racial slur.

    ….a pet peeve of mine.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 17, 2007 #2
    I don't think any harm is intended. I once had a catholic priest in Mexico that I was working with refer to me jokingly as a gringo. I told him that it meant about the same to me as wetback. He didn't call me gringo again.

    From the manner that it was spoken I could tell no harm was intended, but I ask myself where the source of humor is in this word and I don't like the answer. Either way, it's strength as a racial slur is pretty weak compared to other words. Being offended by such things is a personal choice. I choose not to be offended. Rather, I use it as a gauge of character for the person who uses that kind of language.
  4. Sep 17, 2007 #3


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    And I bet they still are. :tongue2:

    Well, that's pretty much how I take it, or perhaps more accurately, "Hey, Hispanic," would match the breadth of meaning. It says more about the person using it than the word itself. In the above context, "hispanic" isn't suddenly a bad word, but the way I've used it would show a bias in singling out someone by their ethnicity and not as an individual. On the other hand, if I were to be talking toward a group of people and said something like, "Hey you. Yeah, the hispanic guy...what's your name?" Then it's just an expedient way of identifying one of a group in order to be more personal (the same as identifying someone in a group as the blonde or the one with short hair, or the tall one...whatever trait stands out from the group makes them more individually identifiable, and is easier than using other features like "the one with the shorter, slightly more bulbous nose" which would probably just leave everyone confused staring at each other's noses trying to figure out who you meant).

    There are only a few words, in my opinion, that have become pretty exclusively used as derogatory words and should be avoided at all cost. Otherwise, I'm not very fond of the idea of limiting people's speech and word choice just because some, or many, people use a word in a rude context.
  5. Sep 17, 2007 #4
    Get over it. I don't really care when someone insults me, racially too. That's probably because I've been insulted so much; it's water off a duck's back.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2007
  6. Sep 17, 2007 #5


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    'Gringo' has the same tone, and plays a very similar role to the Japanese 'gaijin'. Both can be wielded in a sharply racist manner, if one choses to. They can both also be used pretty harmlessly in other contexts.
  7. Sep 17, 2007 #6

    Chi Meson

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    Here's a term that struck me as ironically perjorative: "paleface." I was watching the animated movie "Peter Pan" (with my kids) for the first time in 35 years, and noticed that "paleface" was always a slightly derogatory term used by American Indigenous people. Except I never heard an actual "Indian" use this term, only caricatures of these people. Hence, it occurred to me that the use of this term was insulting toward the people who were scripted to use it. Ironic.
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