A couple of days ago, I was on my way home from the doctor's office and caught the tail end of an NPR story concerning the phrase "calling a spade a spade"--is it a racist remark or not? For the life of me, I cannot find the story online. It sounded like a backhand apology that included the origin of the phrase and acknowledgment that the phrase is considered a racial slur by some. If anyone can help me out with a web link, I would appreciate it. I really would like to listen to the entire story. Based on the recent articles I have been able to find online, no doubt the original NPR story had something to do with the now infamous "You Lie" that has rang??-rung-reverberated 'round the world.
Concerning the phrase, those that readily acknowledge the racial connotation include Webster, Merriam, Oxford, American Heritage, Google, and OMG--Wikipedia! In the past, Random House maintained a website that I really like. It's still up, but I don't think they update it anymore and some of the links take you back to their home page. Check it out, I like how RH (The Maven) answers the question.
Now, while we are on the subject. There is another question I would like for you to ponder. Why would the pot call the kettle black, if the pot did not believe that being black was something derogatory or offensive? This is one of those questions that make you go Hmmmm... After many years of contemplation and scholarly diatribes, I keep coming back to the same place--Black Is Beautiful; therefore:
- I do not use the phrase "That would be like the pot calling the kettle black" to add emphasis to hypocrisy. I believe in "calling it like it is". What's wrong with, "Isn't that a bit hypocritical?"
- When I am in the presence of someone who uses this phrase, I stare at them blankly. Like, I'm lost and not understanding the point.
- If anyone questions my blank stare, I ask the question, "Why would the pot call the kettle black"?
- This usually leads to an intellectual discussion to assure me that no negativity was intended and/or to convince me that the statement is not nor has ever been racist in intent.
- Which then leads to a discussion with regard to the statement being used out of context. Since Black is Beautiful and there is no negative implication or intent, it would therefore not be hypocritical for the pot to call the kettle black. Out of context!
In effect the pot would be saying to the kettle, "you are beautiful"! Even though they look differently, come from different stock, and /or have different utility; there is a sameness; a oneness. The pot is saying "I see you, do you see me?" So the proper context to use the phrase would be when you observe some interaction that is out of the ordinary or unexpectedly beautiful--like a horse fanning flies off of a cow, or a dog and a cat playing tag in a field of daisies, or three elders--one black, one white, one brown--laughing and talking, idly lounging on the grass at a beautiful lake watching parents and children of all ages, hues, and national origins running and playing with colorful kites as sailboats dot the distance. Such a beautiful sight would be breathtaking and evoke the phrase, "Wow, that's like the pot calling the kettle black!"
Thoughts? Comments? I love to agree to disagree; you won't hurt my feelings.