Danes, indeed, do say ‘neger’

The use of the word ‘neger’ is not just reserved amongst the lower classes, uneducated and old. Personally, I have heard it from university educated people, young people, people I thought were friends and colleagues. Every time I call them on it, they are universally shocked that anyone has anything to say on the matter.

Friends of mine report that a similar cross-section of Danish society use the word.

Here are some internet comments from people I don’t know, talking about the frequency of hearing ‘neger’ in Denmark

growing up
Never happened in the old days
White student shocked at the frequency of its use
White student shocked

Here is an article in English about it:-

Winnon Brunson Jr: Racist insult provoked me

Here is an article in Danish about it:-

Mary Consolata Namagambe: The quiet racism in Denmark

This educated, young guy in Venstre publicly announced he would use ‘neger’ in place of ‘sort’ as a protest against Haribo removing crude racial stereotypes from bags of sweets.

Here is a Dane saying he, and everyone he knows, uses the word ‘neger’. He is either a student or a graduate of a university. Someone likes this.

Everyone I know says 'neger'
Everyone I know says ‘neger’

As for the prevalence of Danes saying ‘neger’ is closer to ‘negro’, so it is actually a neutral word. This is what I could find on the internet. There are also articles online which mirror the reasoning given in comments. There are several posts about how Martin Luther King called himself a negro, so therefore, a corruption of the word ‘negro’ is acceptable in modern day Denmark. Several articles note that since ‘neger’ is derived from the Spanish word ‘negro’, and not from the English word ‘nigger’, then the word is neutral.

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Here is a screenshot from an article from videnskab.dk where a linguist or ‘negerekspert’ as they call him, says it is not politically incorrect to use the word ‘neger’ in Denmark.

Word is acceptable here in Denmark
Word is acceptable here in Denmark

 

Danes: Stop saying ‘neger’ is not derived from ‘nigger’

Because it does not even matter that it is closer to ‘negro’. You have spectacularly missed the point.

This must be taught during samfundsfag in folkeskole considering how often it is brought up by well-meaning Danes.

If an English speaking person dares say anything about the distressing use of ‘neger’ in Danish polite society, a Dane will pop up to say “BUT REMEMBER, it only means ‘negro’, not ‘nigger’!”

Danes who do not want to consider themselves racist, Danes who like to think they’d invite a black person over for dinner, if only they knew any; are all over this if they see it.

Oh well, fine then! English speakers, stand down…

Except, the Dane shows no awareness that the word ‘negro’ is NOT OKAY in English anymore.

Let’s look at the history of the words ‘nigger’, ‘negro’ and ‘neger’ for a minute.

In the 1600, 1700s and 1800s Europeans kidnapped human beings from Africa, abused them and forced them to work in dangerous conditions until they died. They killed and tortured them whenever they wanted. Children were separated from parents routinely. Women were raped routinely. They did this on an industrial scale.

In order to be able to do this, the Europeans needed to de-humanise the targets for their abuse.  Much like the Nazis needed to identify Jewish people as rats to allow the atrocities of the Holocaust, the Europeans reduced their victims to one word. A word that did not give any clue it was being used about a human being.

They used the Spanish word for ‘black’. They reduced their targets to a word that summarised the essential difference in appearance between the two groups and the justification for their atrocities. As they became more comfortable with treating people like this, the word they used changed. The English speakers corrupted the word into ‘nigger’ and the Danish speakers corrupted the word into ‘neger’.

Danes don’t like to talk about the Danish slave trade anymore. They don’t even call it the DANISH slave trade, they call it the Danish-West Indies slave trade. As if there were no slaves in Denmark, it was all so far away.

Danes still refer to black people as ‘neger’. In headlines, in conversation, on television, on the bus, during physical confrontations. Black people are routinely called “neger —” where their name goes second.

Sometimes, old people mean it in a more neutral sense. In their time, it was okay to dehumanise on the basis of colour and they just have not unlearned that. Old people racism is NOT what we are talking about. Younger people who ought to know better use it. And they use it as a slur, more often than not.

I am white and I got called a ‘neger’ in a bar for speaking English. She was NOT using it in a neutral sense. Or a historical sense. She was not even using it in a descriptive sense. She was trying to verbally attack me and that was the word that came to mind.

If English speakers try to point out how messed up this appears from the outside, Danes line up to say it IS NOT actually messed up.

They always go to great pains to say that it is a linguistic difficulty. That if ONLY the English speaker was fluent in Danish, they would understand their mistake straight away. (If pressed on the point, they usually go into ‘but THEY use it’ but that’s a story for another time)

Sorry, no dice.

The word ‘negro’ is not acceptable in English. For the same reasons and strength of feeling as for the word ‘nigger’. Sure, ‘nigger’ is only used as a slur and ‘negro’ has a history of being the word people used in the olden days. But this word is not acceptable. Because it dehumanises. Because of its association with slavery. Because of how it makes people feel to be described in those terms. Because it is a reminder of a painful chapter in history and all the negativity that went along with it.

You want to claim ‘neger’ is closer to ‘negro’? Fine. Stop defending it. Stop defining it in comparison to a worse word.  Stop saying it is neutral. Stop using it.

 

Take that, ridiculous stereotyping

I saw a newspaper with a front page all about how TEH MUSLIMZ WILL RUIN EVERYTHING. They didn’t put it on their website (for some reason), so I cannot link to it.

The things in particular that Muslims will ruin/are currently ruining :-

* Parties
* Drinking beer
* Having short sleeves

Funnily enough, Baptistkirken, Pinsekirken, Frelsens Hær and Metodistkirken have a similar/exactly the same shitlist but I don’t see the Danish news reporting on how Christians need to stop RUINING EVERYTHING.

Let’s all watch a video of some British Muslims having a dance while we take a moment to consider how stereotyping one quarter of the world’s population is always a fool’s errand.

Racism/travel writing: an unpicking

What is the difference between telling an adopted Asian kid at school that he can’t see through his eyes and talking about the cultural mores of a nation?

Some would say: nothing. They are both racist.

How about saying all Muslims are x or y or z?

Well, that’s not even ‘racist’ they say because Islam is a religion.

Let me just break something down here because some people still don’t get it.

Talking about the culture of a place, including what is acceptable, forbidden and usual. This is not racist. Possibly it is wrong, inaccurate or too generalised.
Think of how many Copenhagen blogs have posts about the Danes taking fitness and lattes seriously. Yeah, that’s not a thing everywhere.

Even when it’s critical, it’s still not the same as saying white people are the ones who should decide what the definition of racism is. It’s not the same as saying Islam is problematic.
That non Danes are the real racists.

If you don’t GET THAT, then this blog is not for you.

You get rude people everywhere

True. You get rude people everywhere. People are dickheads, yo.

I have a question to open up to the group. I think collectively, my readership has probably travelled to and even lived in most countries in the world.

In any of those countries, is is socially acceptable to try to shove past a blind person or their assistance dog?

Because I saw two people trying to do that yesterday on the train. There were two blind people with an assistance dog. They were getting off the train at 21.30, the dog was going last and was waiting for the people to get down. See, the fucking DOG knew to give them some space and time to get down, what with the steps being tall and the gap to the platform being wide.

Honestly, they were not taking an obscene amount of time about it. Like, maybe an extra 5 seconds on how long a sighted person might take.

But the woman in front of me grew tired of this and tried to shove past the dog. And the man behind me, grew tired of me giving them space and tried to shove past me to get out.

Let me repeat, it was 21.30. Where could they have needed to go in such a hurry? And how much difference does five seconds really make to a journey? And why is it socially acceptable to even DO THAT?

Are there any other countries where it is socially acceptable to shove a blind person?

 

NOTE TO READER: Notice the difference between ‘socially acceptable to shove a blind person’ and ‘everyone in a particular country shoves blind people if they get a chance’. It’s subtle but it’s there.

Scandi Spring? Fat chance

Three years ago, a market trader in Tunisia, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest harassment from the Tunisian authorities. His death inspired protests in Tunisia and abroad, leading to the events of the ‘Arab Spring’.

Yesterday, a man left Brøndby town hall and set himself on fire, dying a few hours later. The news has no information about what the problem was and why he took such a violent step. Just that he had been given an answer about his case before he killed himself.

Honestly, I don’t think they care.  Whether this was mental illness or desperation or a combination, the media is entirely uninterested. Could it have anything to do with recent welfare reform? Who cares? Let’s talk about something more jolly!

What have they got to gain by looking the other way on this? Why isn’t the reason for his suicide considered newsworthy?

h/t Johnny Larsen