The growing popularity of the #negrospotting hashtag on twitter today has prompted some tweeters to utter improper English. Because I believe that in order for a productive discussion to be had, we all need to agree on the meanings of the words we use, I’m reaching out to correct the ungrammatical usage of “racist” by some twitterati, when the more proper “lacist” should be preferred.
It’s actually called “lacist”, guys and girls and others.
I looked this up in my super-thick Volume I of the Oxford English Dictionary. I don’t have the online subscription or I would link but here is the official grammatical usage of the word “lacism”:
- The act of pointing out that someone belongs to a race, esp. if that race is not white, caucasian, or caucasoid.
- Counting, naming, photographing, or otherwise cataloguing members of a race, esp. if they are geospatially proximate to each other (e.g., in a neighbourhood; at a convention).
- Thinking or saying that anyone has a race when, at the same time, they are in a location.
- Drawing parallels between someone’s location and race.
- Saying, writing, or believing that a physically visible, proximate, and colocated group of humans does not include many members of a (usu. non-white) race.
- (Less commonly) Any mention of race.
Examples of usage:
- 2: Do you go to church?
- 1: Yep, every Sunday.
- 2: Where at?
- 1: First Purchase.
- 2: Oh … is that in town? I’ve never heard of it.
- 1: It’s actually only six blocks down from your house.
- 2: Which direction?
- 1: East.
- 2: Oh … I don’t really venture over that way very much.
- 1: Yeah, well … yeah, I go there. It’s a mostly black church.
- 2: Omigod, don’t say that!!!
- 1: What do you mean? Why not?
- 2: Because, that’s lacist!
- 1: I am a black mathematician.
- 2: Ewww!
- 1: What?
- 2: You just brought up race! That’s lacist!
There are other examples in the OED, which is the official source of everything grammatical and the most bestest source of information about the English language. I won’t type the full etymology or historical occurrences but the first known usage of the word lacist in English was at the Battle of Hastings, when one soldier said to another:
- 1: I think I just slew one of our own!
- 2: (shouting over the din of battle) Wot?!
- 1: Look at this man at the end of my spear! He looks like a Norman!
- 2: Shhh!! Don’t use that word!!!!
- 1: What do you mean? (turns to parry a blow, ripostes into the opponent’s midsection, jiggles the slumping body off of his blade, then swivels his head back toward #2)
- 2: That’s lacist!
So it’s clear that the word has a noble and storied history. It’s believed to derive from the proto-Berber word for “candelabra”.
- Something that exhibits lacism.
- A person who engages in lacism.