Everything is Racist: English Idiom Edition

I came across this article today listing phrases that you never knew were racist or offensive. Of course we all know that feelings are the most important thing to protect in today’s society where our president is racial hate personified. Read the list through the link above, but here is one example:


Obviously this phrase is bigoted and no one could have possibly used such poor grammar except a Chinese American, and you’re racist if you think otherwise.  I can tell some of you will be rolling your eyes at this point, and thinking this is just going too far. Well I say it just doesn’t go too far enough. Here are some other common phrases you may not have known have secret racism embedded in their history:

1. You Twisted My Arm

A phrase most people think means to coerce someone into performing a task by minor force, this actually has a background in Native American oppression. During the 19th century as the United States expanded its territory to the west, the 100% peaceful Natives were forced off their land.  American soldiers would often use the arm-twist tactic to control dissenters.  This practice also spawned the term ‘Indian burn’, the act of twisting someone’s forearm in two directions to create a burning sensation on the skin.

2. A Rule of Thumb

Many people think this originated as an old English law that permitted a husband to beat his wife as long as the instrument was no wider than his thumb.  I’m glad I’m here to bust that myth, because it’s completely untrue.  Actually, it came from an unwritten law in the old west during the gold rush era. In any cases where there was a property dispute between a white American and a Chinese immigrant they were required to thumb wrestle for it, best two out of three. Because of the comparatively smaller hand size of Asian people (and I’m sorry to point out that racist fact), the white guy almost always won. It was simply a way for privileged whites to exercise control over disadvantaged minorities.

3. Keep Your Chin Up

This was a secret passed around only to white people in the early 1900’s.  After the abolition of slavery,  Southern whites needed a new way to ‘keep the black man down’.  You know that game where you point at someone’s chest and say “you’ve got something on your shirt”, and as they look down you move your finger up and flick their nose? That little game is how they accomplished this. While this trick was discussed in the super-double-secret white patriarchy meetings, blacks were none the wiser and fell for it for years.  White people were told to ‘keep your chin up’ and black people just could not figure it out.  Nowadays people use it as an expression to remain happy even when something is bringing you down, and that nose-flick trick is used mostly by kids who I assume are only 90 percent racist. But it has seriously deep bigotry in its history and should never be used by anyone.

I could go on and on, because as the title of this article suggests, everything is racist and will be forever.  If you are white, and especially a white man, you will be a racist bigot no matter what you do. But to make yourself feel better, remember to check your privilege daily and never manterrupt anyone of another skin color (or a woman). Stay tuned for the next edition of Everything is Racist.

Featured Image: https://youtu.be/3EKtHkYe-vI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s