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In the U.S. South, Is Canadian a New Racial Slur?

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Graeme Hamilton, National Post, January 24, 2008

It was a routine e-mail from the boss sent to congratulate a junior prosecutor in Houston, Tex., who had won manslaughter convictions against an intoxicated driver.

“He convicted Mr. Sosa of a double intoxication manslaughter, got a weak jury to give him 12 years in each, and then convinced Judge Wallace to stack the sentences,” Harris County assistant district attorney Mike Trent wrote in an office-wide memo. Then came the odd part: “He overcame a subversively good defence by Matt Hennessey that had some Canadians on the jury feeling sorry for the defendant and forced them to do the right thing.”

The e-mail was sent in 2003 but came to light only this month as part of an unrelated controversy with his office, forcing Mr. Trent to defend himself against accusations of bigotry — not because he offended the people of Canada, but because “Canadian” has apparently become a code word for blacks among American racists.

“There is a double meaning to that word and I didn’t know it. I was horrified when I learned what it was, and I immediately addressed the issue with the people who brought it up,” Mr. Trent told a local Fox News reporter in a recent interview.

“I’d never heard of Canadian being used as a term for a black person or for a racial slur,” he said.

“If I had, I would never send that out in an office-wide e-mail that’s going to go to people who are going to be offended if they recognize it as such. That would be crazy … . I’m not a racist. I’m not a bigot,” Mr. Trent said.

Mark Vinson, who was a chief prosecutor in the Harris County office at the time, said he was puzzled by the reference to Canadians when he got the e-mail but was too busy to give it much thought. Then some colleagues informed him about the slang meaning of Canadian, and he felt crushed.

“So much has been accomplished in terms of equal opportunities, and the office had a super reputation,” Mr. Vinson, who is black, told the National Post. “I just couldn’t imagine someone in the office who would engage in that conduct.”

He said he believes Mr. Trent’s assurance that he had simply repeated a term used by the prosecutor on the case, Rob Freyer. Mr. Freyer did not return a message left yesterday.

“I know Mike. We laugh and talk about the [Dallas] Cowboys,” Mr. Vinson said. “I truly don’t believe that Mike knew what he was saying.”

It is unusual that a seasoned attorney like Mr. Trent would not have wondered how a Harris County jury came to be stacked with Canadians. (There were no Canadians on the jury but there were some black members.) “The only way that there could have been Canadians on the jury, was if they were born in Canada and then became U.S. citizens, and then became citizens of the county in which the case was tried,” Mr. Vinson noted.

Mr. Trent told Fox News that was not out of the question. “It would not be impossible or unusual for people from other countries to be on our juries,” he said. “That’s what I was told, and I took it as the literal meaning.”

The bigger mystery is how “Canadian” came to be code for black. An online directory of racial slurs defines Canadian as a “masked replacement” for black.

Last August, a blogger in Cincinnati going by the name CincyBlurg reported that a black friend from the southeastern U.S. had recently discovered that she was being called a Canadian. “She told me a story of when she was working in a shop in the South and she overheard some of her customers complaining that they were always waited on by a Canadian at that place. She didn’t understand what they were talking about and assumed they must be talking about someone else,” the blogger wrote.

“After this happened several times with different patrons, she mentioned it to one of her co-workers. He told her that ‘Canadian’ was the new derogatory term that racist Southerners were using to describe persons they would have previously referred to [with the N-word.]”

A similar case in Kansas City was reported last year on a Listserv, or electronic mailing list, used by linguistics experts. A University of Kansas linguist said that a waitress friend reported that “fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. ‘Hey, we have a table of Canadians … . They’re all yours.’ “

Stefan Dollinger, a postdoctoral fellow in linguistics at University of British Columbia and director of the university’s Canadian English lab, speculated that the slur reflects a sense of Canadians as the other.

“This ‘code’ word, is the replacement of a no-longer tolerated label for one outsider group, with, from the U.S. view, another outsider group: Canadians. It could have been terms for Mexicans, Latinos etc. but this would have been too obvious,” he said. “What’s left? Right, the guys to the north.”

Original article

(Posted on January 30, 2008)

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Comments

I am embarrassed that as a willfully politically incorrect person, I have never heard this term.

Posted by Hugh Lincoln at 4:13 PM on January 30


“The bigger mystery is how “Canadian” came to be code for black. An online directory of racial slurs defines Canadian as a “masked replacement” for black.”

I think my family started it. We have been using this code word for years to have public discussions about blacks.

Posted by Economist at 4:29 PM on January 30


Funny, I’ve thought about putting this exact terminology to use, but never have.

Posted by Guillaume at 4:45 PM on January 30


So now, the NHL Nontreal Canadiens are a racist clique?!

Oh the insanity!

Posted by Soprano Fan at 4:51 PM on January 30


There are some of us who wish that these “Canadians” would really be Canadians — if the (real) Canadians love diversity that much, let them have it.

Posted by St. Louis CofCC Blogmeister at 4:58 PM on January 30


Back in South Texas 1980 -85 my best friend was a real Canadian. And he was (ahem!) also an illegal immigrant. He said they were called “Jet-backs” refering to the flight back to the Buffalo New York holding area. The guy was a master printer, the kind that could tell dye concentrations just by sticking a thumb in. The favorite part of his third and final deportation hearing was when the native Hispanic court bailiff made some derogatory remark about him while he was in handcuffs. His reply. “I`m making $86,500 cowboy, how you all doing?!?”

Posted by Tim Mc Hugh at 4:58 PM on January 30


When did that happen? I’m sick of people changing the rules so as to be able to accuse us all of racism.

Posted by at 5:11 PM on January 30


Huh? Never heard of this term as meaning anything else than a resident or citizen of Canada.

Either paranoia is (once again) trumping common sense or I’m w-a-a-a-y behind in the latest vernacular.

Posted by at 5:28 PM on January 30


I dont know about the rest of you but I always refer to blacks as icelanders.

Posted by the way at 5:40 PM on January 30


I have always preferred “non-swimmer” myself.

Posted by Earl K. at 5:48 PM on January 30


This is funny because I didnt realize this term had a national following. My friend from Michigan was the first to ever use Canadian to refer to blacks and I just thought it was because Michigan is so close to Canada and he’s kind of a jokester. I found it to be pretty funny and have used the term for the past year or so. People need to lighten up. I think it’s pretty hilarious myself!

Posted by whiteculturewarrior at 5:57 PM on January 30


I think it does come from the restaurant industry. 10 years ago when I was a waitress we called them “special tables”, but a waiter from elsewhere in the country said they were called “Canadians”. The reason for the derision: blacks were notorious for stiffing servers on tips yet were always very demanding. If they weren’t known for that behavior, they wouldn’t have earned the name. Yet it’s just “racists” making up this term for no reason.

Posted by at 6:05 PM on January 30


Too funny. I’ve never heard that before but I’m going to use it all the time now.

Posted by at 6:08 PM on January 30


interesting….I thought that term was exclusive to Chicago Police.

Posted by ex-liberal at 6:10 PM on January 30


I’m a Southerner, and I’ve never heard this. I’m immensely skeptical.

Posted by David W. at 6:13 PM on January 30


I do not converse with anyone, using derogatory terms about blacks or anyone else, unless I know that the person I’m speaking with has the exact same feeling. (I still feel bad using the terms jokingly.)

Mr. Trent would have to know that this would come to light eventually. Those emails/computers can get us into trouble. He should have been more careful; he should have been professional.
(I don’t think he needs sensitivity training, though.) He just got caught.

I think the use of ‘Canadian’ is a pretty good replacement for the n-word or ‘ninja’ (I heard that from guys from one GA town.) A made up word would have been too obvious. I’m sure the use of ‘Canadian’ is overlooked much of the time.

Posted by GAonMYmind at 6:19 PM on January 30


New one on me. I’ve never heard of referring to blacks as “Canadians.” But then, I don’t live in the South.


I think this habit white liberals have of saying that race-conscious Whites view some other group as “The Other” — and making that accusation in a tone that suggests it’s a horrible thing to do, peculiar to us nasty old White racists — is an extremely silly one. After all, to every ethnic or racial group in the world, there is some particular group, often either in their midst or living in a contiguous country or state, that is considered “The Other” and viewed with suspicion, dislike or downright hatred for a variety of reasons. The tendency is called “human nature.”

Lastly, I found it amusing that one use of “Canadian” might be among servers in a restaurant: “There’s a table of Canadians who don’t tip — you got ‘em!” I seem to recall a posted article on AmRen a couple of years ago about blacks being extremely stingy tippers. It drew a huge number of posts, many from present or former servers, agreeing wholeheartedly.

Posted by Wayne Engle at 6:22 PM on January 30


Someday, hopefully under President Obama, the hateful C-word will be put to rest.

Posted by William Hendershot at 6:39 PM on January 30


Non citizens are on juries?

Posted by the Soviet Republic of New Jersey at 6:47 PM on January 30


In Pittsburgh a lot of people call them “natives” or “mexicans”.

Posted by Heretic at 6:52 PM on January 30


A University of Kansas linguist said that a waitress friend reported that “fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. ‘Hey, we have a table of Canadians … . They’re all yours.’ “

Wow, I thought we were the only ones who said that. I used to wait tables for a couple of years and the majority of the staff were black. We white employees referred to black customers as “Canadians” so that we could talk about how terrible black customers were without our black co-workers catching on. Frankly, I thought we had invented it.

Posted by Conrad R. at 6:52 PM on January 30


“Canadian” is a racist code word for blacks? What’s next? Coffee cup? Napkin? Baseball? Shoe?

When will this nonsense end? And when will blacks grow up?

Posted by Proactive at 7:12 PM on January 30


Guess I can’t use the term anymore. Everyone knows what it means.

Posted by at 7:35 PM on January 30


Trent could have thought that “Canadian” was code for “spineless white left-winger.”

The US, of course, is not much better than Canada but at least we don’t haul thought-criminals before kangaroo courts called Human Rights Tribunals.

Posted by icr at 7:42 PM on January 30


I’ll admit that I found this story rather amusing only because I’m a real “Canadian” sporting a pale face.

I suspect this term did originally come from the restaurant industry. Unlike American Whites, we Canadians have not been fully enculturated in vast numbers, to leaving tips to waitresses and waiters, assuming that management is already paying their wages.

New Zealand, another white commonwealth country I’ve visited, is also on the same wavelength as Canadians.

So you see, it’s really an American thang.

Black Americans, on the other hand are also reticent to leaving tips on the restaurant table…but for wholly different reasons.

Posted by at 7:43 PM on January 30


I guess I’m really out of the loop, because I’ve never heard of such a thing. I’m inclined to dis-believe it.

However, if I were Canadian — -I’d be offended!!!

Posted by kitty at 7:49 PM on January 30


“A similar case in Kansas City was reported last year on a Listserv, or electronic mailing list, used by linguistics experts. A University of Kansas linguist said that a waitress friend reported that “fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. ‘Hey, we have a table of Canadians … . They’re all yours.’ “

My ex-wife worked as a waitress in a Washington DC restaurant and they called the black customers ‘VIPs’. The funny thing is that the black waiters and waitresses who she worked with also called them ‘VIPs’. It was a code so they could commiserate with each other about either getting no tip or a very small tip. Everyone knew that the black restaurant customer was the worst; little or no tip, bad behavior, etc.

I was not meant to be racist, it was simply a way of talking to your fellow employee about how much money you were or were not making.

Posted by Ida88 at 7:58 PM on January 30


Well it all makes perfect sense! “Canadians” don’t leave tips to wait staff in Canadian eateries because Canada is a Socialist nation that has abandoned the concept of discretionary renumeration for varying grades of service that range from incompetent, clueless, and hostile to the respective antonyms of the previously enumerated terms. This is a gem of an etymology lesson that I will cherish for years to come!

Posted by Flaxen-headed Strumpet at 8:05 PM on January 30


Just remember, there are a real bunch of “Canadians” whome are as redneck as you southerners, but codewords? That’s for punks. In the first two great wars, we were proven. This spirit still lives now,, when the government does not. Remember your insult when “all our” guns outnumber thiers, but theirs outnumber yours.
Just a white guy workin hard and not agreeing with societies goal.

Thank you AR. for this opportunity to vent.

Posted by johnny at 8:10 PM on January 30


“Stefan Dollinger, a postdoctoral fellow in linguistics at University of British Columbia and director of the university’s Canadian English lab, speculated that the slur reflects a sense of Canadians as the other.”

Normally, I don’t go along with the Ivory Tower crowd’s explanation for things like this. However, here they may be onto something, but I would add a certain amount of my own speculative buttressing, that is not particularly flattering to the Canadian “other.”

While on the surface, the term “Canadian” as a Southern codeword for blacks might seem very silly (or even ridiculous,) until one considers that on some police and fire departments (at least in Southeastern Michigan) a code term for blacks was “Democrats.” In part, this developed out of the fact that most blacks vote for them and the Democratic party was seen as a bunch of Leftist sellouts to them, against white unionized employees.

Given that many Canadians have long held a “progressively” snooty and almost contemptuous view of Americans as “racists,” who have caused a race problem in our own country by not treating blacks as “equals,” does reflect that kind of intended humorous comparison. Compound this with the fact, that Canadians may openly to obnoxiously express such views in the South since they see it as our most egregiously “racist“ region, having such opinions influenced by both our and their Marxist media industries, and the speculative comparison is not that wild.

I do not write this to be insulting to many of the fine Canadian posters here at AR. On the contrary, I would invite them to either support or challenge my hypothetical scenario above on the origins of the “codeword” presented above. I simply have had some considerable contact with Canadians in the past (particularly in the late 80s through 90s) while living in Metro Detroit, that often had me aghast at how naive and judgmental they could be regarding American “racism.” Moreover, the Canadian media (the CBC in particular) was even worse on this score.

Posted by John PM at 8:22 PM on January 30


I’m from the South and have never nor do I ever hear the term “Canadian” used to describe blacks, only people who are citizens of Canada. This is news to me.

Posted by at 8:23 PM on January 30


Someone from Boston told me that a few years ago.

Posted by at 8:34 PM on January 30


Who cares? Blacks call us (and do to us) whatever they hell they want and whites won’t harp them for it, yet us whites will harp us when we don’t 100% kiss up to blacks? Come on, white people, get it together!

Posted by at 8:46 PM on January 30


“Democrat” or “youth” are better.

Posted by at 9:00 PM on January 30


Steffan Dollinger (post-doctoral fellow of linguistics at The University of British Columbia) is about as clueless as a Dora The Explorer Doll is as to the etymology of “Canadian”. Just ask any waitress in Myrtle Beach, SC what “Canadian” means and they’ll universally without exception tell you that it refers to ANY food service customer perceived to be unlikely to tip no matter how exemplary the table service rendered might be. And Blacks are Canadians in this context.

Posted by Underdog at 9:09 PM on January 30


Marxist bigots(black and white, Christian or Jew) are at it all the time; always intimating something sinister about anything a white -Christians says or does; of course this doesn’t ever apply to any any non-white or non-Christian, that itself proves my point of their own specific bigotry type hate crime.Such double standard hypocrites the “left” is always showing.

Posted by Michigan patriot at 9:50 PM on January 30



Funny. I wonder if this is happening on anything more than a very limited scale? Based on the examples provided, it may be that no more than a few people — all a degree of separation or two away from each other — are using this term so far.

Yet I suspect it could achieve some cultural momentum. Every neologism has to start out with just one or two people saying it. In the ’60s somebody had to make up the word “hippie” and in the ’80s somebody had to make up the word “yuppie.” So in future, phrases like “shiftless Canadians” or even “uppity Canadians” might well come into more general usage.

After all, as the Speech Police exile more and more old terms get exiled to the Forbidden Zone, new substitutes and euphemisms will inevitably need to be invented. Otherwise the English language, after centuries of robust expansion, will SHRINK — just like Orwell’s Ingsoc was designed to do.

Posted by The Incredible Shrinking White Man at 10:21 PM on January 30


I live in the south and have never heard blacks referred to as “Canadians”. I have heard them referred to as “democrats” though : )

Posted by at 10:32 PM on January 30


I live in a northern border city where you are highly likely to encounter both blacks and Canadians. That term would not work here, especially if the real Canadians overhear you and think you are putting them down.

Posted by at 10:47 PM on January 30


I live in the South and used to wait tables for years. The wait staff was mostly black and we white waiters used to refer to black customers as “Canadians” so that we could complain about how terrible black customers were without them knowing. I though we had made it up but I guess not. Also, a lot of my friends in college referred to blacks as “nogs” which I hear is catching on.

Posted by Conrad R. at 10:48 PM on January 30


I heard that the word “Wizards” is used as a black slur in So Cal also. LOL

Posted by at 10:52 PM on January 30


I was a waiter in northern New Jersey in 1999 and 2000. “Canadian” was code for blacks because, on average, they were horrible tippers and extremely demanding to wait on. Nobody, not even the black servers, wanted to wait on a black family because it meant 3x the work and 1/3rd the tip. Every once in a while you’d get a generous black guest, but more often than not they would tip on the low end - like 10%, but it was common for them to tip even less, sometimes an insulting single dollar bill or two dollars on a check for 30 or 40 bux. On three occasions in my 2 years of being a waiter, I got no tip despite providing exemplary service - all 3 times the guests were black. And they’d run you around like crazy - the food was never quite right, something wasn’t cooked to their specifications, they wanted something prepared unusually, the soda didn’t taste right, more condiments, ridiculous requests to substitute items for other things, it never ended!!

Posted by ZING at 10:54 PM on January 30


Who really cares?…I had a girl that worked in a restaurant I owned that, hated to wait on people of her own ethnicity becauase she felt they were pushy and poor tippers…she did all she could do to trade tables with another waiter, should she be put under house arrest or be forced into a re-education camp? The NAACP refers to black people as coloreds…advancement of colored people…people have the right to their perceptions, terminology,.. free speech is not a bad idea, those that prefer censorship are.

Posted by Petrarch at 11:11 PM on January 30


“the slur reflects a sense of Canadians as the other.”

These “Canadians” don’t mind being “the other” when it gets them perks, like affirmative action admissions and contract set-asides.

Posted by H. Dumpty at 11:14 PM on January 30


The bigger mystery is how “Canadian” came to be code for black. An online directory of racial slurs defines Canadian as a “masked replacement” for black.

I think the answer is right here in the article:

“fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. ‘Hey, we have a table of Canadians … . They’re all yours.’ “

Both Canadians and blacks are well-known for not tipping.

Posted by qwerty at 11:15 PM on January 30


“There are some of us who wish that these “Canadians” would really be Canadians — if the (real) Canadians love diversity that much, let them have it.

Posted by St. Louis CofCC Blogmeister at 4:58 PM on January 30…”

Believe me! Canadians don’t like diversity any more than Americans!

Posted by Jackers at 11:26 PM on January 30


This is amazing! I couldn’t believe it when I saw this article.
A friend of ours from Philadelpha has been using that term for some years now when describing Blacks. When I asked him the reason, he told me that he’s heard it from someone who had told HIM that the term was used because when a group of Blacks are talking, their Patois combined with the decibel range at which they speak,comes out sounding like a gaggle of Canadian geese.

Posted by at 12:02 AM on January 31


Any term, no matter how mild, will be perceived as racist if it applies to blacks. Although blacks use terms like honky and cracker with abandon.

Posted by at 12:09 AM on January 31


“A University of Kansas linguist said that a waitress friend reported that “fellow workers used to use a name for inner-city families that were known to not leave a tip: Canadians. ‘Hey, we have a table of Canadians … . They’re all yours.’ “”

Them Canadians behave the same wherever they go.

Posted by at 12:13 AM on January 31


A longtime friend of mine owns a neighborhood grocery store in an area that HUD converted into a ghetto in a couple of years. He was the first person I’d heard use the euphemism “Canadians”.
One day I stopped in for a newspaper, and noticing the group of dropcrotch-wearing youths at the entrance, I regaled him with a chorus of “Oh Canada”. He gave me a wry smile and a shrug of his shoulders. Oh for the good old days!

Posted by Queequeg at 12:18 AM on January 31


This is by no means new. A Miami area PD has a hip hop weekend every year and got into a bit of hot water over the use of this term a few years back. Since local “Community leaders” were up in arms because every criminal subject was descriped as a “Black, Male” over radio and media sources, they either didnt mention race, or changed the vernacular. Why “canadians”? because it is so out of left field.

Posted by at 12:52 AM on January 31


I really am Canadian but I find this hilarious. If I had read that fax i would have thought that he was referring to liberals, cowards or marxists! I guess that if i used that term north of the border no one would know what i meant.Although now it seems every african thinks they are Canadian!

Posted by Vancouver Steve at 1:46 AM on January 31


I use the term Korean Presbyterian, myself. It’s not meant as slur on the Koreans, just a comical contrest between them and the group I’m really talking about.

Posted by Stanley at 2:17 AM on January 31


I wonder when the first case will be of a white guy getting beaten up after overhearing him use the word ‘Canadian’, probably in all innocence, to describe a Canadian? I guess ‘the Canadian defence’ will get the assailant off..

My friend and I use the term ‘gang of youths’ to describe a black man, in honour of all the press reports we read about people who have been beaten/raped by the mysteriously vague and unpictured ‘gang of youths’.

Posted by Regulation18b at 5:02 AM on January 31


As the benighted Southerner incarnate, I can confirm that this article is terribly dated. The new codeword now consists of rotational vegetables. “That spinach looks deadly. Do you think the field peas will riot?” We Rebs delight in finding a new legume or tuber for glorification, even though we may not know exactly what it is. (Heck, unless you count distilled barley, I don’t think I’ve even eaten a vegetable in a couple of weeks.)

Posted by Robert Binion at 6:05 AM on January 31


I would think that Canadian would refer to someone with a liberal attitude that would be soft on crime and have nothing to do with race.

Posted by Drifter at 6:31 AM on January 31


The more authority given to them to decide what is racist; the more they will find. The black population will continue to paint the white race into an ever shrinking corner until the only thing left is our existance; which they will then find extrememly racist; at that point the wholesale extermination will begin.
Of course the federal government (not wanting to be accused of racism) will wholeheartedly support this holucaust to appease the black race.

Posted by at 6:32 AM on January 31


Of course, the idea is a humorous type of ‘back-slang’ when the slang word in vogue is used, ironically, to denote exactly the opposite of the word’s real meaning.
For example, in the british Army it used to be common to nickname a very tall soldier ‘tiny’ and a very short soldier ‘lofty’.

Posted by Kenelm Digby at 6:56 AM on January 31


ZING wrote: And they’d run you around like crazy - the food was never quite right, something wasn’t cooked to their specifications, they wanted something prepared unusually, the soda didn’t taste right, more condiments, ridiculous requests to substitute items for other things, it never ended!!

Yes I worked with a black woman who stated that the service was rarely good enough to receive a tip. I asked her how much she tipped if the service WAS good and she said maybe 10%. On an $8 lunch tab that would only be 80 cents, and the waiter may have to visit the table 5 or 6 times for that pathetic 80 cents.

They wait for the tiniest thing to be less than perfect then they make a big deal out of it to justify the puny (or non-existent) tip. Then they claim that servers are racist because they do not want to wait on them. Amazing.

Posted by Sonya at 7:18 AM on January 31


If anything, it’s offensive to the Canadians.

Posted by Manley at 7:23 AM on January 31


I’ve heard the term “Utes”, (as in Urban youths) and Norweigans.

But Canadians is good.

OK, so what can we call Canadians when we make fun of them?

Posted by Wilson at 8:11 AM on January 31


Very funny, in France, arab thugs are often called “suédois” (Swedes) for the very same reason.

Posted by UnOurs at 9:56 AM on January 31


Wow, this is hilarious. I’m a real Canadian, and I have used the term “Canadian” with my American friends while discussing race issues in public. We had no idea others were doing the same thing. I think we picked the term because Canadians are so innocuous, I don’t think anyone would care if you said anything bad about the (real) Canadians — compared to any other ethnic group who must be treated with kid gloves.

Posted by Kevin at 10:52 AM on January 31


You should be safe if you use the code words of TV news. “Disenfranchised Youth”

Posted by at 10:59 AM on January 31


“The black population will continue to paint the white race into an ever shrinking corner….”

Don’t attribute to blacks power which they don’t possess and never have. Whites painted themselves into a corner a long time ago; they just can’t admit it, so they look to others to blame.

Posted by at 12:06 PM on January 31


I have never heard this outside police-work. I have several ex-NYPD friends who told me about this years ago. There are actually a few non-verbal signals for Blacks as well.

Posted by HH at 12:34 PM on January 31


I think most people still think of white, bright, and polite when they hear the word Canadian. So using this as a code name for blacks (if it’s true) is highly ironic and counter-intuitive. And really funny, when you think about it.

Posted by at 3:20 PM on January 31


Trent could have thought that “Canadian” was code for “spineless white left-winger.”

The US, of course, is not much better than Canada but at least we don’t haul thought-criminals before kangaroo courts called Human Rights Tribunals.

Posted by icr at 7:42 PM on January 30

Be patient … be patient.

Posted by garywilk at 4:26 PM on January 31


NYPD street cops have been referring to blacks as “Canadians” or “Democrats” for years.

Posted by Regg at 4:44 PM on January 31


It’s interesting in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina the “colored beach” (it was called that back then in the sixties) long ago had a “Canadian motel.” I never thought it was a code word for blacks, but I could have been wrong. I’ve lived in the South a long time and I haven’t heard that term before.

Posted by Sardonicus at 8:05 PM on January 31


I’m from the Northeast and my husband thought this was hilarious - he’s been using the term “Canadian” for about five years and actually seems to think he and a friend made it up! I guess not … ha ha

Posted by Violet at 8:37 PM on January 31


“Don’t attribute to blacks power which they don’t possess and never have. Whites painted themselves into a corner a long time ago; they just can’t admit it, so they look to others to blame.”

Is it hard writing with one hand while holding a paintbrush in the other…? I’m curious.

Posted by LHathaway at 8:42 PM on January 31


As a teenager in Chicago in the late ’60s/early ’70s, my friends and I referred to blacks as “Jacksons” and whites as “Osmonds.” That way, we could talk about race on the bus or in restaurants without risking beatings from nearby blacks.

Posted by Ellen at 9:46 PM on January 31


My family and friends refer to blacks as “Luchun”[pronounced looo-shun]. I picked this up from a friend of mine back in the 70’s. When out in public we can openly say “check out Luchun or oh God, here comes a Luchun” without drawing attention!

Posted by Tom S at 10:01 PM on January 31


I am an avid listener of Howard Stern. Years ago, his sidekick, Artie Lang said this is the term his family used to refer to blacks. Perhaps with Stern’s nationwide coverage, it just picked up momentum.

Posted by nanook at 10:31 PM on January 31


Never heard of it! I did not understand it when people at work were using the term. Now, I will ‘get it’. Really tho, everyone needs to lighten up! Just goes to show that speech can not be regulated. V

Posted by Vickie at 11:18 PM on January 31


Lol! I’m a Canadian and I think this is knee-slapping hilarious.

I guess that’s one difference between real Canadians and blacks.

Posted by at 11:18 PM on January 31


In The Netherlands, North African Islamic Berbers and their desendants living in Gaza on the Amstel (western suburbs of Amsterdam)are in code referred to as “Finns”

Posted by Badger at 12:20 AM on February 1


I waited tables in college in Virginia. This was my first exposure to the ‘joys of diversity’.

Our Manager was a very refined soft-spoken southern woman who made reference to blacks by simply saying the word ‘people’ TWICE. For example: “Jay, we have a large table of PEOPLE…people coming in. Keep an eye on them.”

As backup, she would visit the table a few times to ask how everything was going and would comment on how ‘special’ one or two of the items were and how they were made. More often than not, she would ask one of us to get them something simple — -some extra rolls, etc. Her manner was that of a sixth grade school teacher and really worked wonders. Both she and the wait staff knew it was just a little game, but it really did help prevent bigger problems — mainly by getting the blacks to think they were getting something ‘extra’ when they weren’t, and keeping them DISTRACTED.

My friend worked at a ‘black’ restaurant, with a black manager. Things there didn’t go so well. After a few months she stopped saying that she was going to work. Instead she would say she had to go ‘slop the Zulus’.

From my experiences and the experiences of others, I learned a few things.

The First Rule of Dealing with Blacks: DON’T DO IT UNLESS YOU HAVE TO! It’s just not worth it. The only people who choose to deal with blacks exclusively do so behind 2” thick bullet proof glass, e.g., the Koreans and Vietnamese.

The Second Rule is: DUMB IT DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL. Not all blacks are stupid, but many are. When dealing with LaCheryl or Kwantel, (whether in a store, post office, etc.) just ACCEPT THE FACT that they CANNOT UNDERSTAND YOU ON YOUR LEVEL. This frightens them, and more often than not evokes a ‘primitive’ response — -such as an ‘attitude’, ‘acting out’, violence, etc. Your getting angry/impatient/frustrated isn’t going to make THEM any smarter. They are stuck with being stupid. Our public schools and universities know this all to well.

Just like the Southern woman in the example above, try to gauge their ‘mental age’ and act accordingly. Typically this age is about 13 — - that of an adolescent.

Third Rule: If things are escalating with your ‘13 year olds’, REASON DOESN’T WORK. Try a distraction. For most whites, emotion is NOT an argument. For most blacks, EMOTION IS THE ARGUMENT. Toss them something shiny to play with. Could be a compliment, for example — - “I’m sorry you folks thought the service was slow. YOUR SUCH A NICE LOOKING COUPLE, let me see if I can get you something EXTRA to make up for it (i.e. a 20 cent bowl of ice cream)”.

Fourth Rule: If things are getting violent: disengage, and warn everyone around you (this only works if the blacks are ‘off’ their turf). The idea that the po’-leese’ may be involved soon will usually put most blacks off — -but not all.

Avoid violence if you can. Generally, you have more to lose than they do….and they know it. Simply walk (or run) away.

FINAL RULE: If you can’t walk or run away, and fear for your life: refer to rule .357

Posted by Chris L. at 3:14 PM on February 1


Once upon a time, the word “Canadian” was used to refer to Jews in some quarters. In recent times, it is almost exclusively used to refer to blacks.

Some blacks were so oblivous, that others could make remarks concerning Canadians in their presence and it would go right over their heads.

As for the origins of the word being used in this manner, I don’t know for certain. Fugitive slaves using the Underground Railroad oftentimes continued North until they reached Ontario or Quebec.

Canadians are sometimes referred to as Canucks or Loonies (the Canadian dollar is a coin which features a loon on its reverse side).

Posted by Canuck U at 4:12 PM on February 1


Some Canadians are poor at tipping, so that might be the basis for the reference. Given the Socialist policies in place in Canada, the tight behaviors may be a defense mechanism since nobody seems to ever have enough money up there. Everything that you do is taxed to the max. On a recent visit, the cost of a soft drink and candy bar in Canada was $3.40 (in Canadian currency). The same thing may have cost $1.75-$2.00 in the USA.
A beer purchase at a government owned store cost $14.00 in Canada.

Canadian retailers are complaining that almost all Canadians living in proximity to the American border are choosing to shop in the USA in order to save money. The recent parity in American and Canadian currency is a factor, but the real problem is Canadians are taxed so much that it interferes with their standard of living. Bear this in mind when the politicians in the USA want to redesign our government and health care to resemble Ottawa.

Many Canadians end up pinching pennies and this habit carries over to their spending behavior when they are tourists. Canadians like to visit Cuba because it is a cheap vacation since Fidel is hard up for hard currency. As for blacks, the lousy tipping practices would qualify them to be Canadians.

Posted by at 4:36 PM on February 1


“Many Canadians end up pinching pennies and this habit carries over to their spending behavior when they are tourists”

I’ve been to Canada and while the taxes are higher there is also the factor of the way people are paid. Here in the US, waiters get a low hourly wage because the tips make up for it. In Canada and many other countries, waiters are paid a higher wage but don’t rely on tips. When Canadians visit the US, they bring their practices with them. When I visit Canada, I always tip as if I were in the US and I noticed that many of the tips were in US dollars.

Posted by KC at 9:00 PM on February 1


I tipped in Canada as I would in the USA. The taxi cab driver almost turned cartwheels as a result.

I think in many Canadian establishments the tip is built into the price of the service, so fewer people tip and those who do give less.

Posted by at 11:56 PM on February 1


I think in many Canadian establishments the tip is built into the price of the service, so fewer people tip and those who do give less. — Posted by at 11:56 PM

Yes, this is the case in most other countries. The tip, if any, that’s left is just the little loose change that’s left over, but it isn’t much. And not much is expected.

Posted by ghw at 7:27 PM on February 2


In addition to lousy tips, some blacks go out of their way to be rude: placing the coins on a dirty plate of uneaten food and gravy and challenging the waitress to dig it out. In the end, most refuse to pick up the coins and the dishwashers end up with the pennies and dimes.

Posted by at 3:46 PM on February 3



Posted by Chris L.:

You know your stuff. There’s nothing like experience with blacks to understand blacks and you obviously had the experience.

Your first rule is mine: if you can, avoid blacks altogether. No contact, no problems. Since I travel in an ‘urban’ setting, no contact is impossible but I avoid contact and make no effort to initiate contact.

Dumb it down or keep it simple stupid. I have had the same experience with blacks. They get frustrated because they can’t understand things which seem obvious to us. Explain things simply and slowly and hope they catch on.

Reason doesn’t work so don’t argue. What I do is apologize for my transgression; whatever it may be. ‘I’m sorry you don’t understand the issue. It’s my fault. You’re right, I’m wrong. I’m going to walk away now. Have a nice day’.

Interaction with blacks is like handling dynamite with blasting caps inserted. If you have to deal with blacks, fain caring and compassion and then move away…

Posted by sbuffalonative at 11:55 PM on February 3


I’m from Alabama and racial slurs aren’t that uncommon here, even today. I’ve never heard blacks referred to as Canadians. It must be an upper south (North Carolina Virginia) as opposed to an deep south( Georgia Alabama) thing.

Posted by at 11:38 AM on February 4


I’ve heard and used ‘Toby’ a few times, but even for them that’s not quite subtle enough. They will search their minds a moment and then it dawns on them where that name comes from. I’ve only done that after being called ‘white boy’, or some other condescending remark, once too often for me to ignore. I reserve the right to slur back, but with a less charged word.

Posted by at 10:56 PM on February 7


I’m going to have to start inventing new racial slurs for fun. Sidewalk taper. Polka dotted lemurs. Cumulus feet.

Posted by at 9:54 PM on February 12



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