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Why the Term “Cracker” Is Not a Racial Slur

A racial slur is defined as “a derogatory or disrespectful nickname for a racial group, used without restraint,” like the N-word. Racial slurs are used typically to put down or personally attack someone from a particular racial background, and the use of such a term is disgusting.

The term “cracker,” a term used to describe a white person somewhat offensively, has had multiple controversies as to whether it is a racial slur or not. Well here, we are going to put the record straight: “cracker” is NOT a racial slur. Let’s tell you why in a short list:

  1. The term itself does not even have a “derogatory or disrespectful” meaning. The term has multiple meanings, but these two are the most intriguing: the first definition of “cracker” means something along the lines of a poor white person. The second definition, probably more true, was used by slaves around the 1800s to describe the sound created when white slave-owners would whip the slaves’ backs. Regardless of either definition, the term “cracker” is not a racial slur because it is not disrespecting a racial group. If the definition regarding the poor white person is applied, then that is simply just using a term that may not properly describe someone. If the definition regarding the noise made by slave violence, then the term is not a racial slur whatsoever; in fact, the use of the term should be encouraged to constantly remind the people of the present of the injustices enacted upon slaves.
  2. The term has multiple meanings with multiple connotations. The two definitions above generally have negative connotations (though they should not), but depending on where you are in the United States, “cracker” may not be just a racial slur. It could also be a major compliment. In Florida, the term is prideful, having to do with Florida’s pre-Civil War history and cattle herding skills. Not to mention, “cracker” is also the name of a popular snack around the globe. With true racial slurs like the N-word, which has only one meaning to disrespect a racial group, “cracker” truly cannot be a racial slur because it has multiple meanings. If you look around and actually analyze racial slurs, you’ll see that their only purpose is to disrespect. With words like “cracker” that barely disrespect white people and even can be a source of pride for others, it is just a term. Plain and simple.
  3. The term wasn’t even relevant until 2012-2013. The term finally had its resurgence when George Zimmerman had murdered Trayvon Martin. Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon’s friend that spoke at the trial, called Zimmerman a “creepy-a** cracker.” Since then, the term has been discussed. Comparable to other slurs like the N-word, “cracker” just hasn’t been along enough for it to be anything more than an insult.

CNN cites a study by Bill Harris from the University of North Carolina by saying:

Initially, cracker was not a pejorative term, but Ferris says it has become one, the equivalent of redneck. Its meaning and intensity as an insult depends on who is saying it and who is listening.

Sure, it definitely is not a racial slur, but it can be merely a small insult to some people. This article is not designed to give people 100% freedom to call white people “cracker,” but this is just clarification for a controversy that needed to be cleared up. Always be cautious of people’s feelings, and if they aren’t comfortable with being called a “cracker,” then just leave them be.

Besides, there are hundreds of other insults you could use. Call them “Donald Trump,” for instance. That’ll show them.

Comments

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Sameer Khan

Having an interest in politics and societal issues through his school Speech & Debate team, Sameer has a true love for expressing his thoughts. When he's not writing a powerful article, he's probably listening to Ariana Grande's music, scrolling through Twitter, ranting about Donald Trump, or eating cookies!

Sameer Khan

Having an interest in politics and societal issues through his school Speech & Debate team, Sameer has a true love for expressing his thoughts. When he's not writing a powerful article, he's probably listening to Ariana Grande's music, scrolling through Twitter, ranting about Donald Trump, or eating cookies!

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