“Folks” racist?

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  • #10337

    Rick29844
    Participant

    I recently read in the newspaper that, in Columbus, Ohio, a white police officer was reprimanded because he told a group of black onlookers at a crime scene: ‘Folks, you need to step back.’ Apparently, they were offended by his use of the word ‘folks,’ considering it to be racist. What am I missing here? People use the word ‘folks’ all the time when addressing groups of people of any or all races. I have checked the Oxford English Dictionary and elsewhere and could find no racist use of the word ‘folks.’ There is no indication that the officer would have addressed a group of people of another race any differently. Why assume racism on his part? What do people on this web site think of this issue? Is ‘folks’ a racist term?

    User Detail :  

    Name : Rick29844, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, City : Springfield, State : OH Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #22612

    David Ward
    Member

    I continually seem to be learning new phrases that are considered racist. One that is not particularly new, but one that I find odd, is ‘you people.’ Used in the same context as folks, I don’t see how it can in the least be considered racist. The only way I can imagine it being racist is if it immediately precedes a racist slur. A friend whom I know to be the furthest thing from a racist was recently fired for saying something I considered to be completely innocuous. An African-American man with whom he worked showed up one day dressed in a suit and tie. This workplace was always casual, and my friend asked in a joking manner, ‘Where was he going to preach?’ This is a phrase I’ve heard all my life when someone shows up in a suit. The man immediately became tremendously offended, and rather than go through the hassle of a hearing, my friend found another job. As someone who admittedly grew up not knowing very many African Americans, I’d really like to be able to find a mindset that would enable me to understand why certain phrases are so inflammatory.

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    Name : David Ward, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 46, City : Austin, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : teacher, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #25524

    Nicole
    Participant

    ‘Folks’ is not a racist term, and most black people would never be offended by that, so please don’t start conjuring up thoughts about us. Some people are just pressed to throw the race card whenever something isn’t going their way. I believe the race thing has defintitely gotten out of hand, and nowadays, things aren’t half as bad as some blacks make them seem to be, but don’t get me wrong – things are still bad. Those people were probably doing something wrong or were mad at the cop, and wanted a reason to get him in trouble.

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    Name : Nicole, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 19, City : Washington, DC, State : NA Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, 
    #26063

    Fran
    Participant

    Whatever any white person says is racist according to the interpretive whims of black people. If you question this, you are a racist.

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    Name : Fran, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, City : Christal Bay, State : MN Country : United States, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #31352

    ACC25062
    Participant

    What about when Richard Pryor got accused of being racist for saying ‘white folks’ and ‘blacks folks’ all the time in his act? Sounds to me like this officer was using the word the same way Ross Perot used ‘you people’ to refer to blacks. There was an explicit distinction and dividing into ‘us and them’ with what he said. I’ve also heard ‘folks’ used by Southern whites to mean either ‘us folks’ (meaning other Southern whites) or ‘them folks’ or ‘those folks’ (meaning either blacks or white outsiders, i.e. Yankees). A lot of times comments have to be judged in their context, the tone of voice or gestures used with the words and so on. I don’t think anyone ‘assumed’ racism. It’s just that we are faced with it so often, that we recognize it immediately, while many whites scratch their heads and have to wonder.

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    Name : ACC25062, Gender : M, Race : Mexican and American Indian, City : Phoenix, State : AZ Country : United States, 
    #32817

    Fred21716
    Participant

    ‘Folks’ is clearly not a pejorative. We have gone way off base in this country by placating the ignorant. Organizations like the police, schools and major corporations have us so tied up in knots that it is difficult at times to have adult conversations with anyone, lest they holler insensitivity or some “ism.” This is ridiculous and uncalled for at a time when we need more communication rather than less. Those in positions of authority and leaders of various groups must recognize this and take advantage of situations, as in the “folks” issue, to explain no evil intent. They must not give into basal notions, as is so often the case. Be honest with yourself. Did you mistake my previous use of “adult” as something lewd, or did you interpret it as intended; meaning mature? It is all in the mind of the beholder. I constantly see people assuming the worst of others when there has been no reason to make that assumption. Frequently this is between men and woman. When this occurs between races, the situation is frequently blown out of proportion because of the lack of clear thinking and clear minds.

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    Name : Fred21716, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 50, City : Buffalo, State : NY Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #33286

    Lucy22403
    Participant

    I do not consider folks to be a racist term. It simply refers to a set of people. I think the people in this case were probably prejudiced against the cop. Because of past events with this or other cops, they probably believed this cop to be racist, so that anything he said would have probably been considered racist.

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    Name : Lucy22403, Gender : F, Race : Hispanic/Latino (may be any race), Age : 27, City : San Jsoe, State : CA Country : United States, Occupation : Engineer, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #35271

    Dan-C27328
    Participant

    They were just unhappy because a white cop told them what to do. I bet the Cincinnati incident, (in which the white cop shot the black criminal) was on their minds. There is nothing racist about the word ‘folks.’

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    Name : Dan-C27328, Gender : M, City : Omaha, State : NE Country : United States, 
    #38509

    Jennifer31034
    Participant

    I have no idea why the term ‘folks’ would be considered racist. I know that at one time, some black gang or another differentiated itself from its rival gang by referring to its members as ‘folks,’ while the rivals were referred to as ‘people,’ but this seems like a tremendous stretch, if at all related. If I were you, I would chalk it up to the incredible hypersensitivity to any and all perceived slights on the part of some blacks, and forget about it.

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    Name : Jennifer31034, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Christian, Age : 31, City : St. Paul, State : MN Country : United States, Occupation : Non-profit, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #39211

    Tanith
    Member

    Probably because it sounds ‘Southern.’ Some people think that if you use Southern or black-sounding words, you’re being racist. If one was intentionally making fun of African-American speech, that would be racist. But it sounds like another case of knee-jerk politically correct hypersensitivity.

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    Name : Tanith, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Disability : Autistic, Race : Irish-American, Religion : Pagan, Age : 20, City : Minneapolis, State : MN Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, 
    #41631

    William24304
    Participant

    Don’t you know you can’t do anything that won’t upset or offend black people? If you say hello, they think you spoke to them only because they are black and you are a racist trying to fool them. If you don’t say anything to them it’s because they are black and you don’t care if they know you are a racist.

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    Name : William24304, Gender : M, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 32, City : Dallas, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : Radioactive Waste, Education level : 4 Years of College, 
    #42000

    Ken Lim
    Member

    I’ve used the word all my life and have never run into any trouble. This particular incident probably has something to do with the tension of the situation and the ‘white male cop authority figure vs. innocent black bystanders’ syndrome.

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    Name : Ken Lim, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Asian, Age : 43, City : Cupertino, State : CA Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Upper class, 
    #46372

    Olive
    Participant

    Why assume racism on his part? Oversensitivity is the only answer I can think of.

    What do I think of this? I think it was foul of his superiors to reprimand him. Our nation’s police officers are already terribly underpaid, underappreciated and overworked. Why heap more worries on them by requiring them to be hypersensitive to the tender feelings of the people they risk their lives every day to protect?

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    Name : Olive, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Rationalist, Age : 19, City : Denver, State : CO Country : United States, Occupation : Student, Education level : 2 Years of College, Social class : Upper middle class, 
    #14097

    Rick29896
    Participant

    Very helpful, Jennifer. Thanks!

    User Detail :  

    Name : Rick29896, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, City : Springfield, State : OH Country : United States, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
    #16336

    Jay C.
    Member

    How tacky to say you cannot say anything to upset black people without being considered racist. I do consider you a racist (borderline probably, but racist just the same), but that is not an automatic reaction to being offended. That’s my reaction to you. I assure you I’m offended by people all the time without thinking them prejudiced. Often the attitudes people display when they are around you are a reflection of the energy they receive from you. Maybe if you’re constantly being called a racist, you should examine yourself and stop attempting to place the blame on others.

    User Detail :  

    Name : Jay C., Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Christian, Age : 21, City : Dallas, State : TX Country : United States, Occupation : Student/Intern, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, 
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