Friday, August 17, 2007

Cleaning Up Saved Posts

I'd saved this Gwenda Bond article to comment on last week; she deplores the use of coffee terms to describe people's skin-tones (for, I think, purely racial reasons -- I guess; it's hard to tell).

Well, if it makes you more politically correct to avoid saying someone's skin is "cafe au lait," more power to you, and I hope you enjoy that warm fuzzy feeling. But I think those descriptions are a bad idea for a completely different reason -- I don't drink coffee, never have, and so don't have a clue what you're saying. (Though I may possibly be alone in the Western world in that, which would ruin my argument somewhat.)

I know "black coffee" is black, and "cream-colored" is white, but anything else just reads like a line of Blackadder dialogue to me. [1] And good writing connects rather than confuses.

[1] "So, what you're telling me, Percy, is that something you have never seen is slightly less blue than something else you have never seen."


Anonymous said...

I heard once a talk where all the colors of skin were given the attributes of delicious food. It was inspiring, honestly. It made people sound so attractive and worth defending.

I don't like my use of color word choices being dictated to me by someone who has no stake in the matter, anyway.

I'm tempted to just say "if it was good enough for Langston Hughes . . ." but the fact is that while Langston Hughes is my hero, he uses a lot of words and phrases I probably wouldn't.

Gwenda said...

Well, you're absolutely right. My first objection to it is on the grounds that it's lazy writing and completely cliche (and not in the fun redeemable way, with the possible exception of a satirical treatment -- though even that would seem a bit obvious at this point).

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