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Thursday, August 2, 2012

How ‘Monday’ Became A Racial Slur

An off-duty police officer recently called a Major League Baseball player a “Monday” and as a result, lost his job.

It happened at a minor league game earlier this summer: Officer John A. Perreault of Leominster, Massachusetts taunted Boston Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford, an African-American who last season was seen by fans as a symbol of his team’s collapse.

Monday And The N-Word

The story brought to light the fact that the word “Monday” has become a slur that is slang for the n-word.

Boston Globe language columnist Ben Zimmer traced the usage of “Monday,” in the online Urban Dictionary and found that it started popping up in 2006, many say on the East Coast.

It was the popular comedian Russell Peters, a Canadian of Indian descent, who put “Monday” on the map. In a January 2008 standup routine for Def Comedy Jam (widely circulated on YouTube), Peters tells of a Bostonian referring to blacks as “Mondays” and giving the same bigoted clarification that “nobody likes Mondays.” “White people are getting real…clever with their racism,” Peters jokes ruefully.

Guest:

  • Ben Zimmer, language columnist for The Boston Globe

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Merch_guy

    Canadian and French Canadian are codes for jews and hasidic jews used in “upper class” circles in the New York area,, 

  • Fvento

    back in the early sixties, my pal’s bartender father used the word apaches as a racial slur on folks with dark skin

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Westwood/1205146556 Matt Westwood

    It’s worth referencing Gore Vidal here (no time like the present) for the novel he self-censored, replacing all the indelicate words for parts of the body that one should not mention in polite company with the names of the various high-court judges who passed injunctions against some of his works on the grounds that they were obscene.

    Apart from that, all that comes to mind is the concept of euphemism creep.  Er, we are still allowed to use the word “creep”, aren’t we?

    • fun bobby

      Rehnquist!

  • Marek

    “Illegals” is rapidly becoming a coded slur for hispanics.

    • Scott Goldman

      Rapidly? It has been since the 80′s at least.

  • Former Server

    I’m going to play Devil’s advocate here because it’s fun and people tend to live in echo chambers.  The guest mentioned that servers in restaurants use the code word “Canadians” for African Americans because Canadian citizens are notoriously bad tippers.  I used to work in a restaurant and I heard the term quite often.  The term was more of a socioeconomic statement directed not against all African Americans, but against those that have also been characterized as “ghetto” or “gangster.”  I understand that this does not make the use of the term any less offensive, but the issue with “Canadians” was that they were, as the guest pointed out, “bad tippers.”  So, “Canadians” was the slang for African American guests who treated the server like servants and then left no tip, or sometimes not even enough to cover the entire check.   This particular restaurant was relatively nearby a lower income neighborhood, beneath a transitional housing building, was near several colleges and next door to several colleges.  The servers had slang for each of these particular members of each of these communities that were bad tippers. The rich, largely white theater audience literally treated you like their servants and often left no tip because they either felt that they were entitled or because they would become indignant about any fault that may occur, even if it was not the fault of the server.  College students were just plain notoriously bad tippers as well.  The, mostly white, guests from the transitional housing were often just plain crazy and didn’t tip because we had to ask them to leave quite often.  The servers hated all of these people equally, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, etc.  Even African American servers used the slang Canadians, but that’s OK because they’re African American, right?.  It’s all about them being bad tippers.  For example, even the most religious, homophobic server was happy to get a large table of gay men because they are notoriously good tippers .   Waiting tables is a harder job than most people think and the customers treat you terribly.  It’s expected that the staff is going to blow off steam in the kitchen or break room.  Yes, racism is always bad, but some would argue that it could be viewed as being akin to gallows humor under the circumstances.

    • Leggett406

      Good point well-made. Listening to the feature I too was struck by the obvious difference between ‘Monday’ and ‘Canadian’, since the former was a euphemisn for ‘nigger’ whilst the latter was a euphemism for a tight-wad. To conflate the two was simply poor journalism.

    • Rebecca White

      Why do we need to put people in groups to condemn them at all? This is the very heart of what prejudice is – putting people in groups and judging them as members of a group. Why isn’t a bad tipper just a bad tipper?

  • Karl

    In the Detroit area, especially the Macomb county suburbs I have heard 
    “democrat” often used as a code word for African-Americans.  

    • fun bobby

      I have been using democrat as a slur for a while now but its mostly white democrats I direct it ar

  • Mark

    “Spoda” as a racial slur against African-Americans. “They always be doin’ somethin’ they ain’t spoda be doin.”

  • workerbee

    the kids at my job say nigerian.

  • LAS

    Interesting piece- this was news to me. When I lived with a bartender for several years she did not seem to have such code words, but blatantly complained when she had to work a hip-hop or reggae night, since this meant bad tips. Of course the best nights to work were “industry nights” attended by fellow bar and restaurant workers. Anyway, her complaints always grated on me- in her mind she was just stating the facts, but I knew she was saying things she’d never say in front of non-white people.

    As I saw it, the bar and restaurant business is tough, and inevitably comes with good days and bad days, good tippers and bad tippers. I know when I first started going to bars in college I didn’t even KNOW that you were supposed to tip a bartender! Whoops!

    Often foreign tourists, regardless of skin color, don’t tip well because they are totally unaccustomed to a 20% tip rate, compared to most other places where patrons leave a few coins behind or round up the bill. Perhaps restaurants should add a “voluntary tip” line to the bill, as I’ve seen in other countries, and this would guide patrons in the right direction.

    • American

      I thought most restaurants *did* leave a tip line on the bill, for the benefit of customers who pay with cards.

  • Lo

    I myself like to use the word ignorant for people who believe everything and never search for the truth!

  • Daynaire33

    For the ones who bartender or served as a waiter/waitress not tipping well depends totally on the service I receive. Because i’m black doesn’t mean I’m a bad tipper it just means that you were not worth a good tip. It disgust me that you people (white) have not gotten over anything and you continue to consider yourselves better than anyone. You are the first to turn on someone in a heart beat . There are just as many white trash as there are ghetto black people and there is also ghetto white people. I feel sorry for you racist people that had to grow up w/o your own mind and you never even give people a chance. Every nationality has its faults but you dont knock them just because. America now is made up of all nationalities and that’s a beautiful thing. Remember white people took this land ( america) from the Indians this is not your land.

    • Rebecca White

      Not giving the standard tip is wrong, regardless. If you have an off-day at work, do you get docked? A lot of what goes wrong at restaurants is not even the servers fault, and even if it is, everybody makes mistakes. Everybody gets cranky. Your boss does’t take back your pay if you make a mistake, or if he/she catches you on the internet or you’re chatting too much. Tipping is a system based in elitism. The idea that anybody should get paid only if deemed worthy by somebody else making a judgment from a very limited point of view is offensive.

      • Grace Scrimgeour

        Why make customers responsible for the fact that wait staff don’t get paid properly by their employers, and aren’t subject to minimum wage laws? If the 15% is just part of the bill, then it should be factored in to the cost of each food item and reflected in the pay. Then, any tip would be a genuine reflection of the customer’s appreciation of the service they got.

        • Rebecca White

          Exactly. They should be paid a fair wage, just like everybody else. But while stuck with the system we’ve got, not tipping as a judgment on their service exacerbates this inequality.

        • fun bobby

          in argentina there is almost no tipping. its great

      • fun bobby

        If you have an off-day at work, do you get docked?
        yes at a lot of jobs your pay depends on how good a job you do. ask anyone in sales

      • Robb Dennis

        I absolutely disagree… I have been in food service for over 25 years and you do not owe the tip the minute you walk in… Let me restate what I mean… When you go to a restaurant you should be prepared to tip at least 15%, but you do not have to… It is still your server’s job to earn it. If the food is wrong, or the drink tastes funny, you should still tip the server – that is not under their control. You should tip on their ability to handle issues and do their job.
        I took my father out to breakfast one day and had a disgustingly dirty teaspoon. I asked the server for a clean one and she threw the dirty one into an empty booth. Granted, she had probably seen a lot of dirty dishes that day and was frustrated but that isn’t my problem as a customer. The rest of the quality of her work wasn’t much better. I left her 4 pennies.
        On another occasion, I was out with my wife for lunch. There was an issue with my wife’s food, but the waitress did an incredible job. Not only with that, but at every stage of the service and I could see she was really busy and still did her job well. I left her a 200% tip and told her and her manager how impressed I was.
        My point is, yes you should be prepared to tip but bad service doesn’t mean you still have to do so…

    • Marzipan

      For clarification to all (not just the gentleman who has posted): People who tip 15% are simply paying their bill. Over that is a “good” tip. Most servers of all kinds have other people they tip out to–so don’t stiff, because it comes out of their pocket and they have families too. Yeah, maybe they should get a new job, but you can always not go back and spread bad press instead of tipping below the minimum. “Remember white people took this land ( america) from the Indians this is not your land.” -SO TRUE! However, Native Americans, are not Indians. “Indians” come from India, so calling Native Americans, “Indians,” is a misnomer–just so you know. That goes back to early discoverers mistakenly thinking they were in the “West Indies” via the Indian Ocean when they got here–thank you Columbus. Overall–I feel your pain. And also–there are WAY more white trash/ghetto than black trash/ghetto people, because in most of the country there are still simply more whites. Should we be calling anyone “Trash” or “ghetto?” That term–ghetto– comes from Venice as a pejorative against the socially isolated Jews. The etymology of the word comes from possibly the Italian word “gheto” or “ghet” which means “slag or waste (Venetian),” but also possibly from that Hebrew term “get (divorce).” But, that is changing–yes it’s a beautiful thing as you said! Soon we will all be mixed. No one is “pure (yes it’s a beautiful thing as you said!),” No one is faultless, and compassion is the best answer for all this. Serving our community is going to get us through the bad times. No man (or woman) is an island. I was sad to hear of this “Monday” thing–SAD. Glad the guy was fired over it.

    • BigDog40

      I thought this thread was about “Mondays”

    • Carmel Sangria

      So you admit your a bad tipper….

    • Carmel Sangria

      Give up your public housing, ebt and welfare if you really feel that way.

    • Kevin Peters

      “Because i’m black doesn’t mean I’m a bad tipper”

      Yes it does.

  • Vandermeer

    Never heard of the term “Monday”. Sad that there are still so many stupid Americans out there. We are not our skin color!
     

    • the79214323316th_human

      Why are you not your skin color? There is nothing intrinsically wrong with anyone’s skin color whatever it may be. What IS wrong is the connotations, stereotypes and behaviors targeting people for whatever space they occupy (race, gender, orientation,etc.). I am black. I am male. I am human. I am all of those things. I am not anything you ascribe to me (positive or negative) without you knowing me first or affording me the basic courtesy and kindness you would anyone else.

  • Keith Cosentino

    for leggit402 or whatever how did u get that canadian was being a slur of anykind.  Russel peter’s ethinicty is indian, as in from india and he lives and resides in canada which makes him canadian.  it’s not poor journalism, its all you people looking for something thats not there and magically finding it.  Racism happens but not nearly as much as everyone thinks or sees.  Stop taking shit ouot of context and actually think about the things said and also how they were said.  ignorance is all to funny sometimes because it’s not the “racists” that you think are being ignorant its you the reader or listener who clearly weren’t reading or listening. 

    • daa5417

      Doesn’t this article show that racism is still happening, but it’s not as overt as it was in the 50s, 60s, 70s? If you’re not a minority, you’re obviously not going to experience racism. And if you’re not being racist, or see people being racist, you have no proof from your personal life, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

      Do you think that minorities have nothing better to do than “make up” that racism still exist? I’m sure minorities would prefer to concentrate MORE on trying to build their families and community to the place that their white counterparts have had the benefit of doing pre-1970 and pre-slavery.

  • Keith Cosentino

    i apologize leggit406 i now understand what you were getting at and yea i agree however the rest of my post is exactly a point i had.

  • Discouraged

    I am an African-American male and have been a Montreal Canadiens fan for years I own a replica Maurice Richard sweater that I have worn proudly in public.  I play a musical instrument and have a Canadiens sticker on my instrument’s case.  For these and several other various reasons, I was deeply distressed by your segment. Yes, I know that racism is a form of mental illness and that hatred simply renders one blind and stupid but it is truly sad that many people simply cannot help themselves and have to find new ways to prejudge others.  I will probably keep my enthusiasm for the Habs to myself for fear of being considered ignorant or being laughed at.  EVERYTHING in the United States boils down to race and money.  Everything.  I cannot help but wonder if this country has changed very much at all over the past 75 years.

    • Jordan

      You can vote, ride in the front of the bus, and drjnk from the same water fountain as I do. Ya, I would say its changed

      • Ghost of the gipper

        Do you really think that was what the civil rights movement was about? “It is better to keep your mouth shut and have people think you the fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt”- Mark Twain

    • fun bobby

      are you in Canada?

  • Merci232

    What are the most commun hispanic slur expressions?

    • Vincent Bernard

      “Spic” if one I’ve heard. “Goya Beans” is another…

  • Curlie

    What is the slur to describe illegals like Iris, Italian Greek  ?

    • fun bobby

      mick and ginea or dago

  • Curlie

    There are many people with illegal entry to the USA  but what is the slur  word for  Iris, Italian  Greek etc? en general ?

    • Ghost of the gipper

      For Italian it was always WOP, which stood for “WithOut Papers”

  • Jmatuja

    Sorry to say, but as a server, even black servers think that a great deal of blacks don’t tip, and it is true a lot of the time, why?

    • Vincent Bernard

      Im sorry to hear that.. I don’t know where u lie but in Brooklyn, myself all my friends, ppl, family, we’re all good tippers and from what I see most black ppl that I’ve shared space with are good tippers to. Because we recognize that the better the tip the better the service when u return to the spot if you want to return…I’ve also heard that Jewish ppl are bad tippers. BUt thats not true with all. I guess it depends on each person..

    • ctmany

      Historical and current socioeconomic oppression which has created DEEP racial disparities in income and wealth.

      DUH!!!!!!!!!

      For example, the average white family has 10x more wealth than the average black family. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/50-years-after-the-march-the-economic-racial-gap-persists/2013/08/27/9081f012-0e66-11e3-8cdd-bcdc09410972_print.html

  • fun bobby
  • BigDog40

    Does it mean the same thing when reversed and whites are referred to by blacks as honkey’s, whitey or cracker?
    I’ve heard it said that blacks cannot ever be racists because of their history, and so they can call people whatever they want and get a free pass.

  • Carmel Sangria

    Black people think they are the only group to be enslaved or face adversity in the history of earth. Every other group has overcome, except for 1.

  • Grace Scrimgeour

    You missed my point. I always tip. I’m not American, but my first American friend had worked as a waitress and explained American tipping (where I come from, standard tipping is 10%). My point was that employers in restaurants are not legally required to pay their wait staff minimum wage, and in that case the tips make up the basic pay of the staff, they aren’t an additional amount that should reflect your appreciation of their service.

  • Robb Dennis

    No. Bad service does not equal 15%. Tipping is a GRATUITY – if you are given bad service, you don’t have to leave a penny. I have been in food service for 25 years. Many waitpeople make a lot of money because they work hard. You cannot be lazy or rude in the SERVICE industry. Generally I tip 20-25%, but I have left pennies – this shows that you do tip, but that their service was terrible. I have only done this 3 times, but all were deserved…

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