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Our brothers and sisters in the North

I’m wandering the blogosphere today, and what do I come across but the most bizarre story I’ve seen in a minute – apparently there’s a new code word for black people: Canadian.  The story goes, that there was a lawyer in Texas who sent out an email about a case that had been won through convincing even the Canadians on the jury.  Of course, we all know you’ve got to be a citizen to serve on a jury – so what’s the deal?  Well, of course, there weren’t any *actual* Canadians on the jury – but there were some black people.

This article suggests that the dude who made the comment might not have known what he was talking about – or perhaps the author doesn’t?  it’s a bit unclear…

The e-mail was sent in 2003 but came to light only this month as part of an unrelated controversy with his office, forcing Mr. Trent to defend himself against accusations of bigotry — not because he offended the people of Canada, but because “Canadian” has apparently become a code word for blacks among American racists.

“There is a double meaning to that word and I didn’t know it. I was horrified when I learned what it was, and I immediately addressed the issue with the people who brought it up,” Mr. Trent told a local Fox News reporter in a recent interview.

“I’d never heard of Canadian being used as a term for a black person or for a racial slur,” he said.

“If I had, I would never send that out in an office-wide e-mail that’s going to go to people who are going to be offended if they recognize it as such. That would be crazy…. I’m not a racist. I’m not a bigot,” Mr. Trent said.

So, my question is, uh, how did you come to use the term Canadians if you weren’t aware of it’s usage/meaning?  I can’t imagine accidentally calling black people Canadian.  How would that occur?  The requisite “Hey – I’m not a racist!  That’s ludicrous!” follows the assertion that he apparently wrote an email and sent it to the whole office, but had absolutely NO idea what he was talking about at the time.

I can agree with his statement though – I’ve also never heard of Canadian being used as a term for a black person or for a racial slur.  Til today.  Woo.  I wonder how the Canadians are taking it.

Here, you can see further exposition of the story:

Trent’s response at the time: Freyer, the prosecutor commended in the e-mail, had used the term “Canadian” in a conversation and Trent took him literally, thinking there were real Canadians on the jury — no racial slur intended. The rookie checked all the jurors’ cards and, not surprisingly, found indications of blacks on the jury but no Canadians. Trent sticks to his story.

“Do you guys think I’m crazy?” Trent wrote recently in response to a blog post. “Am I insanely stupid enough to send a racial slur to 250 LAWYERS? Litigious, complaint-ready lawyers, some of whom are African-American?? That is just absurd.”

Of course, one might argue that it’s also absurd to believe Canadians were serving on a Texas jury.

And there’s the rub.  We’re supposed to believe that a lawyer just figured that there were Canadians – actual citizens of Canada – serving on a Texas jury.  Cuz, of course, privilege wouldn’t coax him into a sense of invincible entitlement strong enough to actually send out racist emails to everyone at work.  That’s never happened before.

So, this thing called the racial slur database references the term Canadian as a replacement for the ‘n’-word.  If I were Canadian, I’d be pissed about that.  As I’m not, I can’t help thinking that I’d much rather be called Canadian.  You could call me Canadian all day long – and you could be thinking the ‘n’-word, but…it just wouldn’t matter to me.  Cuz really, there’re plenty of times when I encounter people who’re thinking it.  They don’t have to say anything to think it.  So, yeah, I don’t really care if you call me Canadian.  Maybe somebody already has.  But I just don’t have the same type of history/emotion tied up in the title.  And there are several Canadians that I like.  So.  There ya go.


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