Characterizing arguments as racist - OK? If not, it should be

Primarily California and Colorado for white guys who are now in their 60s and 70s. I’m 38 and I never heard of it as derogatory until maybe 5 years ago and until this week I’ve never heard it refer to a black person.

This seems weird that you never heard of Buckwheat referring to a black person. The Little Rascals was way before my time and I’ve never seen it, but I still knew the Buckwheat character from it. I also never saw Eddie Murphy do Buckwheat on SNL, but I’m aware he did it.

Were blacks a minority of minorities where you lived?

I have no idea how old Oredigger77 is but my kids have no clue about the Little Rascals. They were largely disappeared during their lifetime. I think Bill Cosby bought the rights and took them off the air but not sure.

As to Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat, even my niece who was born in the 80s wouldn’t know that one.

That’s all fair, but I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that neither your kids nor your niece (nor anyone else who shares their backgrounds) go around calling people Buckwheat, since they have no idea about the Little Rascals and the Eddie Murphy character. At least no more than I call people Sorghum, Millet or Amaranth.

I’m highly unlikely to assume that any use of the term buckwheat to characterize a person is innocent.

This is accurate.

I can see a situation where someone’s Dad or grandparent use Buckwheat though and the younger person picked it up not realizing it was actually derogatory. It isn’t too likely but could happen.

I typed it and that is pretty weak though. Possible but not too likely indeed.

Eddie Murphy left SNL 8 years before I was born. I’m aware of the little rascals but I don’t think that knowing there was a character who was black was named buckwheat would count as having seen a black person referred to as buckwheat that would be like watching Family Matters and saying people refer to black people as “Urkle”.

Blacks were certainly minorities where I’ve lived. We had 3 in the seven classes that went through my high school while I was there. I knew four black students in college which, today, is only 1.3 percent black. I’ve never lived in a town that was more than 9% black. I’ve seen much more anti-mexican racism than racism against blacks I’m sure it’s there but it never comes up in conversation except about how horrible those racists are over there.

Right, I’ve never called anyone buckwheat because it’s just a weird term of endearment my dad uses for me. I’ve also never heard my wife use the term despite hearing her dad use it often.

My dad has been in a fight with his brother for the last year over some racist tendencies my uncle picked up in prison and they stopped talking after my dad told him they were raised better than that. My dad isn’t racist but I’ve heard him calling me Buckwheat for the better part of four decades so it’s hard to see it as a racist term in his usage.

I have never heard of “buckwheat” as a racist epithet or as a descriptor for a person at all. To me it has always been a type of noodle, or at least the plant that certain noodles are made of.


Raised in Northern Idaho, there was no doubt as to what people meant when they used the term.

Ditto, except Iowa.

Ditto, except California, Michigan, Massachusetts and New York.

I am however just old enough to have watched Little Rascals shorts in reruns as a little tyke in the 1970’s and knew all the major characters (incidentally, Spanky was the best). There is zero doubt in my mind that any American in at least their 50’s-70’s would consider ‘Buckwheat’ directed at a person a racial slur. Indeed one of my step-brothers, a huge SNL-era Eddie Murphy fan, once got into a frustrated yelling match with our parents over the Buckwheat sketch which is far as my parents were concerned marked Murphy out as a self-hating Black man.

I’m kinda fascinated that such an instantly recognizable dog whistle from my youth (well more an air raid siren) is steadily vanishing from the public consciousness.

Kontroversial Kolorado Kongressman Dipshit Holtorf and his defenders are working hard to keep that from vanishing. :slight_smile:

Nope. The show ran in syndication, on broadcast and cable, on and off from the 60s to the 00s.

She may have caught the mid-90s feature film?

My issue with “that argument is racist” is that it turns into a hijack. The next forty or more posts are a back and forth about whether the argument was actually racist. Further, the accusation of racism is a serious one that leads to a civil death in today’s society so people are more apt to fight that characterization, i.e. that if I make a racist argument, then I am a racist.

That is different than saying an argument is “wrong” or “factually incorrect.” Everyone is wrong or misstates things from time to time. Nobody wants to think that they are a racist or say racist things so they will fight on and hijack the thread. IMHO, there is no need to accuse an argument of being racist, just debate it on the merits.

This is ridiculous. The accusation does not lead to civil death. I can name half a dozen politicians off the top of my head who have been photographed in blackface, recorded saying incredibly racist things, or the like, and who still hold tremendous political sway, either officially or unofficially. To suggest that the accusers hold power is the height of absurdity. And that’s not even getting into the idea that a person whose argument is racist is a racist.

Absolute nonsense.

To suggest that the accusers don’t hold power is the height of absurdity.

Your “logic” is akin to saying “I can name a half a dozen black people pulled over by police who were not shot dead, and therefore to say black people are at risk from police is the height of absurdity”.

Are you seriously trying to compare being accused of racism to being shot dead by the police?

I’m sorry, that’s just TOO funny.

Of course, it doesn’t have to. If I said something that I didn’t realize was racist (let’s say that I said, “wow, that eBay seller really gypped you”) and someone came in and said, "you know, that’s a pretty racist thing to say – it’s a derogatory reference to the Roma people, “gypsies”, it’s perfectly fine to just apologize (“wow! That connection never occurred to me. I won’t do it again”) and just move on.

I don’t think that’s the scenario which inspired this thread. Your situation is pretty innocuous.

The issue is that some people use “that’s a racist argument” as a way of disqualifying their debate opponent’s argument and thereby “winning” the debate. [FTR, I’m not in favor of banning this argument by rule. I just think it’s a rhetorical gambit.]

If that is the entirety of their reply, then you are free to ignore it.

If they explain why they believe it to be a racist argument, then what you describe is not what is going on.

Maybe they are wrong on why they believe that the argument to be racist, (as is my opinion in the thread that spawned this), and maybe you can use some introspection on where you are coming from.

It is not used to disqualify the debate, it is used to look into preconceptions that one may be operating under.

I would say that calling something a rhetorical gambit and claiming disingenuous usage in order to “win” the debate is specifically attempting to disqualify an argument.