I came across a phrase while perusing an article in the September issue of The Atlantic magazine this morning: orange man. It’s often used to describe a certain one of Mr. Trump’s physical features; his skin possesses a tone reminiscent of exposure to early generation sunless tanning products.
Perhaps he does use a sunless tanning product; you’d expect a contemporary formulation to do a better job making white skin tan. That’s not the point I’m coming to.
What’s struck me every time I see the phrase orange man, because it’s applied not as a descriptive, but rather as a derogative, is how it can be any more acceptable to ridicule the man’s odd skin tone than is deriding black and brown people for the color of their skin, and all the racial baggage attending that.
Mr. Trump is very white, in the greater whiteness sense of the word. There is a racial component to that, too, and much baggage attends. Do we want our culture to continue carrying that baggage?
Did you answer no to that? Does orange man still give you a chuckle? Do you not feel cognitive dissonance right now?
The way we use language says much about us. Wielding certain words, including nigger, or kike, says much about the speaker’s attitude – not about religion, ethnicity or race, but about his or her attitude toward the subject group. They’re applied to invoke an otherness, to separate and objectify. It’s the first and most obvious expression of hatred.
Mr. Trump is known for his barely concealed supremacist attitudes, and his use of language to garner the non-thinking, hate-mongering component of his support. How does labeling him orange make the speaker any different than the hateful contingent of Trump supporters?
#America #race #orange #black #brown #white #language