Monday, March 6, 2017

Some Words Come With Their Own Bagage

Back decades into the last century when I was a young Society."  I asked my older sister what the John Burch Society was?  I remember she was quiet for a long time.  Then she said: "You know how Dad is about the flag and stuff?"

"Yeh", I said.

"The John Burch Society is about 100 times more than Dad about the flag."

"OHHHHH",  I said.

Fast forward many years.  I was attending a grant writing seminar.  One of the participants was a Lakota man from South Dakota.  During a conversation I said the phrase, "They Jewed him down."

He looked at me, I saw him weighing his words before he responded.

"Where did you grow up?"

"Southern Idaho"

"Hmm"

"May I tell you a story?"

"Yes".

"Some years back I was part of a committee working on a project.  We were to receive a major grant to finish funding the project.  Three of the funders came out to our reservation to look at the paperwork and sign the final documents so we could move forward.

One of our tribal members had been working hard on the budget and many of the line items were coming in under budget.

The three visitors looked over all the papers we had submitted.  Finally one funder addressed us."

"You originally asked for X-dollars.  I notice the actual amount in this final report is much less.  How did you do that?"

My friend answered, "I jewed that company down.  Saved us a bunch of money."

The funder looked at my friend, then he looked at the other two funders.  They looked back. They put their papers back into their brief cases.  Latched them, stood up and walked out the door without saying anything.

Five million dollars walked out with them.  Three years of planning poof it was gone."

He waited patiently as I processed this story.  I am sure if I would have been drawn in a comic strip a light bulb would have been hanging above my head.

"Ohh, jewed Jewish.  Oh my lands I never made the connection".

He looked at me and said, "Every time you say it remember my story."

I worked hard to remove this epitaph from my vocabulary.  This word I had heard often from my father but never new the meaning the racial slur that it was.

There are so many of these racially deplorable words peppered in our vocabulary.  Think of the word "gyp - to cheat or swindle".  Where does it come from?

Some words come with their own baggage.




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