The N-Word – A Warmup
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I just finished reading a book called “The N-Word” that I’m going to talk about/review this week in the context of a larger conversation about language. But to get you all ready, frothing at the mouth, or chomping at the bit for this discussion, I present the warm up round:
Packaging Label Describes Sofa Color As “Nigger-brown”
Yes, dears, you read that right.
From The Toronto Star:
When the new chocolate-coloured sofa set was delivered to her Brampton home, Doris Moore was stunned to see packing labels describing the shade as “Nigger-brown.”
She and husband Douglas purchased a sofa, loveseat and chair in dark brown leather last week from Vanaik Furniture and Mattress store on Dundas St. E. She said yesterday each piece had a similar label affixed to the woven protective covering wrapped around the furniture.
Moore, 30, who describes herself as an African-American born and raised in New York, said it was her 7-year-old daughter who pointed out the label just after delivery men from the Mississauga furniture store left.
“She’s very curious and she started reading the labels,” Moore explained. “She said, `Mommy, what is nig … ger brown?’ I went over and just couldn’t believe my eyes.”
Douglas explained the origins of the word to daughter Olivia, telling how it was a bad name that blacks were called during the days of slavery in the United States.
“It was tough, because she really didn’t understand,” Moore said. “She’d never heard that word before and didn’t really understand the concept of it.”
… Moore said she called the furniture store the following day and three other times since, and feels discouraged that no one has returned her calls.
When interviewed yesterday by the Star, Romesh Kumar, Vanaik’s assistant manager, passed the buck to his supplier, Cosmos Furniture in Scarborough.
… “That’s terrible, that’s a racial … something?” Kumar said. “This is entirely wrong, but it’s not my fault. It’s my job to sell good product to people.”
The owner of Cosmos Furniture, Paul Kumar, no relation to Romesh … passed the blame to a Chinese company, but apologized for the labels. He said he would contact the furniture maker in Guangzhou and demand they remove all similar labels.
Moore said she’s not sure she wants the sofa set in her home.
“Every time I sit on it, I’ll think of that,” she said.