Agwu Okali argues in his recent guest column in Amarillo Globe-News (Okali: Words matter — black can’t win in America, Aug. 5, amarillo.com) that cliches and colloquial phrases such as “black list,” “black mark,” “black market” and “black spot” in the English language are indicative of racism hardwired into our culture.
Okali also offers examples of the use of the word “white” as additional evidence of prejudice.
The thrust of Okali’s polemic is that “black” always carries a bad connotation, and “white” the opposite.
Okali ignores many other English words used to represent various colors that are also used in other ways.
For instance, in the financial world, to be “in the black” is a good thing. However, if one is “in the red,” the future is bleak. Therefore, financial folks like black people, but hate American Indians. The evidence which supports my argument concerning these financial cliches is … “Oh, I just realized I have not one scintilla of evidence to support my argument” - just as Okali has not one iota of evidence to support his.
Okali’s guest column may be the most sophomoric drivel I have ever read.
“Black” has become the most common word in the English language when referring to people whose racial ancestry results in dark skin pigment. This is a relatively recent development. During most of the history of the English language, terms and words other than “black” were much more common monikers.
The cliches and colloquial phrases upon which Okali seizes predate by decades, and in some cases, centuries, the current racial connotation of the word “black.”
I don’t know how much money Okali paid to obtain the educational degrees he listed in his guest column, but he may want to consider demanding a refund.
James A. Farren
Criminal District Attorney/Randall County