Sojourner's Place

do not call me sassy!  

Posted by SjP in , ,

I love being a weekly contributor at Michelle Obama Watch blog, founded by Gina of What About Our Daughters. If you've not had the opportunity to visit MOW, I strongly encourage you to do so. The posts provide a wealth of up-to-date information and commentary on all things about First Lady in Waiting, Mrs. Michelle Obama.

Ofttimes, the posts evoke debate between commenters and contributors. While such debate is often "lively", I do my best to be as "restrained" as possible when posting and commenting. It is simply my way of showing due respect for the blog's namesake and the purposes under which it was founded. But, This is SjP's Place, and I'm about to blow over comments made on a recent MOW post entitled, Chicanery and Foolishness: Huffington Post Calls Sasha Obama “SASSY”.

As Gina, the writer of the post, so aptly states "Where I am from “sassiness” when applied to a child is pejorative. Sassiness would get you a green switch." Yet, there were many who saw nothing wrong with the characterization of Sasha as "sassy". The following comments simply got my blood boiling.

“sassy” is a positive word about women who speak their minds.

Oh really? Let's try calling a woman (Black or White) "sassy" in the workplace one time. Just how quickly can you say "sexual harassment"? As a professional African American woman, I have to struggle each day to make sure that I am taken seriously, that my opinion matters, and that I am a meaningful and integral part of the operation. I speak my mind and for doing so, I am more times than naught called "aggressive" and yes even an ABW. I can deal with that - but, NEVER would I ever allow anyone to characterize me as "sassy" to my face.

If anyone out there in the blogosphere can name me one woman (Black or White) who has ever been characterized as "sassy" who was honestly taken seriously, I might be able to be talked down from this rant - but, I doubt it. Why? Because, I suspect that if there has ever been a woman - living, dead, Black, White, blue, grizzly or gray - who was considered "sassy" that she was NEVER taken seriously. And in the event that there came a time that she was taken seriously, I doubt that she was ever characterized as "sassy" again.

...negative sense as well as in the positive sense. No one would raise an eyebrow if a black person called a white person sassy these days…unlike years ago. Sassy is now an equal opportunity word.

"Sassy" is how I might describe a hat, dress, a handbag, a pair of shoes, or a child who thinks it appropriate to talk back to an adult or suck his/her teeth when an adult is talking to him/her. A "sassy" hat, dress, handbag, or shoes I'd wear. A sassy kid - well let's just say that my eyebrow would be the last thing I would think about raising if that kid were mine.
"Sassy" is not something that I would call a woman of any color who was not on the silver screen, television, or stage portraying a character akin to Carmen Jones, Holly Golightly, Margaret 'Maggie the Cat' Pollitt, or Lady Eloise. Personally, I consider "sassy" as inappropriate as calling a woman a b*tch - which is now an equal opportunity word used by many women much younger than myself. But I will say this, everyone as an "equal opportunity" NOT to call me either.

I think its [sassy] cute and endearing.

Cute and endearing? Oh! Like the N-word "sassy" is now a term of endearment. A term that is appropriate to call women and young girls. I think not! It is neither cute or endearing. To paraphrase Gina, sassiness will get you a switch at best (and let me add) or a very clear view of the palm of my hand at worst.

In a positive gesture to move us forward (and I am dead serious here), perhaps you could collaborate on an article — what are the 50 worst words, phrases, comments that today’s writers (predominantly white, of course) could use that are considered offensive to readers of Michelle Obama Watch.

Now this last one took the cake! Once again "we" are called upon to open the lines of communication in an effort of educating those who continue to stand behind the excuses of "I just didn't know" or "It was just a joke. Why are you so offended?". These are ofttimes the same folks who want to "touch my hair" or expect me to be the "spokeswoman" for all things African American.

But, lets just say that this exercise were to be done. O.K. But, remember, you can only come up with the 50 worst words, phrases, and comments for today's writers (predominately white, of course) should not use for fear of being offensive. Open up the lines of communication - but only by the rules pre-set and determined by you? Typical! I think not!

Look! I'm sorry - but it is not my job or my inclination to educate you about being Black in America. But, I will give you one piece of advise in your quest to not be offensive. When you want to use a word, phrase, or comment to describe an African American or an African American characteristic, "Google" it first. If you don't see the word, phrase, or comment you want to use portrayed on any one of over one thousand Black blogs used in a positive light - DON'T USE IT.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I love being a contributor at Michelle Obama Watch. Therefore, I have to remember my "home training" and "be good" when I'm out in public.

Obliged to you for hearing me,
and now old SjP ain't got nothin' more to say...

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This entry was posted at Sunday, December 28, 2008 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .

5 sojourners hollin' back

Lol, feel better?

I see the word as offensive as well but for some reason I was linking it to race like calling a grown man boy, as opposed to linking it to sex.

But yeah that would be offensive all around.

December 29, 2008 at 9:57 PM

I had the same problem when I moved here in calling a group of people guys and gals.
"Gals" just about got me lynched.

December 29, 2008 at 11:13 PM

@ Clnmike, Yes...Much!!! LOL

Now linking it to race...oooo! Now that's chapter 2 of my rant. Stay tuned! LOL

@ UBJohn, I know you did!!! That's a no no, too!

I saw an article recently about Obama in Hawaii with his family. The title was something like "Obama and His Gals". Needless to say, I lit that site UP!!!

December 30, 2008 at 12:08 AM

Being from Cali, I thought that I was being silly in refering to these Texans as such.
I failed to realize that the scars of Segregation were so fresh.

December 30, 2008 at 3:28 AM

Sounds interesting. I'm going to go check it out.

December 31, 2008 at 4:17 PM
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