You've got to be taughtTo hate and fear,You've got to be taughtFrom year to year,It's got to be drummedIn your dear little earYou've got to be carefully taught.You've got to be taught to be afraidOf people whose eyes are oddly made,And people whose skin is a different shade,You've got to be carefully taught.You've got to be taught before it's too late,Before you are six or seven or eight,To hate all the people your relatives hate,You've got to be carefully taught!
-- "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught," from the musical South Pacific, by Rodgers and Hammerstein
The following (somewhat fanciful) definitions were modified from the website urbandictionary.com.
A "wannabe" is a poser, a follower, a charlatan. Someone who "wants to be" something that they're not, usually to fit in with a specific crowd of "peepz."
"White wash" refers to black people who act white.
An "oreo" is someone who is "black on the outside and white on the inside." The word is used, much like "white wash," to refer to black people who act white.
A "coconut" is brown on the outside, white on the inside. Used to refer to Mexican people who act white.
A "twinkie" is yellow outside and white within. For Asians who act white.
A "wigger" is a white person who acts black. A portmanteau word formed from "white" and "nigger."
"Honky" is a derogatory term for a white person.
A "blackanese" is a cross between an African and an Asian.
"Mulatto" is the Spanish word for "mule." It's used to refer to folks who are half black and half white but due to its origins is now generally regarded as a derogatory term.
A "wapanese" is a white person who acts Asian. Another portmanteau word. These people are usually very much into anime and manga.
A "chigger" is a Chinese person who acts black (rapping, dressing "gangsta").
"Gangsta" is an alternate spelling of "gangster." According to urbandictionary: "It refers to one who promotes and participates in destructive and self-serving culture in an effort to project a particular image of toughness or to make oneself intimidating. Willingness to blatantly misuse English is also a necessity."
"Ebonics" is the language of black culture used by gangstas.
"Ghetto" means low-class, or no class.
John Burrell, 52, the black father of a mixed-race daughter, was on the beach with his wife, Marie, who was white.
Said Burrell, "Society isn't really like that anymore, is it? I mean, all racist? It's gotten pretty homogenized, I think. Even hip-hop's not really a black or white thing these days. It's both."
A youth group was having lunch near the rollercoaster in Mission Beach, a racially diverse bunch of youngsters between the ages of 8 and 11, all wearing blue shirts and chomping hot dogs and licking ice cream. I asked the group's supervisors whether there'd been any racially motivated trouble among the kids.
"Never," said one. "And I've been a counselor for four years."
"Not with kids this young," said another. "They don't know about that kind of stuff. That doesn't usually start until middle school."
Luke, 14, is light-skinned black. He was shirtless, wearing long black shorts and sneakers, and carrying a skateboard.
"Folks see us acting white and they call us 'white wash.' You know, if we're surfing or skating, or if we go shopping in a surf shop or skate shop."
Jordan, 18, is black, and I saw him sporting swim trunks and sunglasses and hanging out on the beach with his white friend Alex, also 18.
"There's pressure on black kids to act white in San Diego. There were only about seven black guys at my high school [USDHS], so I think we acted more black. We made sure to listen to rap music loud and dress all gangster and stuff, like we were making up for the fact that there were only a few of us. There was pressure to be better at sports. But I never really heard many comments or racial stuff said, not to me, not to my face."
Is a white kid acting black when he sports a do-rag and has his boxers pulled higher than the waistband of his super-baggy shorts?
Is an Asian kid acting black when he beat-boxes and break-dances and tries freestyling?
Is a white kid acting Asian when he dresses up as an anime character for Comic-Con?
Is a Mexican kid acting white when he wears preppy shirts and pleated slacks?
Is a black kid acting white when he uses full sentences and speaks clearly, with no "ebonics"?
Are all things at least somewhat racially coded? All fashion statements, entertainment activities, artistic movements, stores, businesses, foods, neighborhoods? Every single cultural foundation and every new trend?
Or have we finally reached a point in some aspects of our society -- like the Internet, for instance -- where race is no longer an issue?
Jennifer, 15, is "1/2 Vietnamese and 1/2 Mexican." She was wearing a Hollister shirt and looked very stylish as she shopped at the mall with her friends.
"I'll be walking, and people be, like, 'Aren't you Mexican? Why you wearing white people's clothes? And don't you have to be wearing, like, gangster?' And I'll be, like, 'No. I dress any type, as long as it looks good.'
"Sometimes I get mad, because they think that, like, I'm not good enough to wear their clothes, but what can I do, you know?
"Mexican girls usually wear the T-shirts and the pants and the Nike Cortezes.
"Vietnamese people dress decent, with normal pants and normal shirts.
"I dress anything that's in the fashion, like Hollister and Abercrombie.
"One day I could be dressed, like, people will say I look like a Mexican, and the next day I'll be dressed like a white girl, and the next day I'll be dressed like an Asian. Sometimes I think about that when I'm getting ready. Like, it depends. If I'm going to the mall, or if I'm just sitting in my house or whatever.