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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 18:12 
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Hair colour, she has black curls. Although it seems strange to us now, the word really was in common usage then, I expect some of us had paintboxes with a colour called n----- brown, or even bought jumpers or skirts called that colour. We were simply using as a colour description, like rose red or grass green without any thought of it being pejorative. EBD cetainly didn't mean it to be.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 18:56 
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So if a white person had curly black hair, that would make them a n*****? That's really bizarre. It was like when Joey made that comment about Frieda's baby, even though Carlotta wasn't black either. Just olive skinned.

I knew about that word being used as the name of a colour. Seems weird, especially when you consider how many shades black skin has.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 19:12 
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E J Oxenham doe the same sort of thing - I remember a remark by a fair-hared character about a dark-haired one, saying enviously that, 'You n-----y people always look good in pink'...!

It was just common parlance and didn't have any deliberate racial connotations, just descriptive of dark hair - not necessarily curly either.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 19:21 
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I have always taken it to mean that the general colouring, i'e hair,eyes etc was darker than the rest of the of the family. In frieda case all she and the boys & Gretchen all fair & blue eyed, and baby Carlotta is dark haired etc. Hence the comment


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 19:24 
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I've got dark hair, and I'm also very pale and burn easily. I got my dad's pasty skin.

On another note, I understand Nina and Miss Burnett being angry at Hilda, and I agree that Hilda should have paid attention, but Miss Annersley, Miss Lawrence AND the rest of the class all laying into her as well was a bit unfair. It was an accident, and she did apologise, and she ends up being so miserable she has to go and lie down. Joey at least calls Nina out on her unforgiving behaviour in the extra bit for the paperback, as does Miss Annersley, so that's something.

That aside, Nina is a wonderful character. I'm only halfway through and I love her. And she has a very kind and supportive family. They don't have a clue about music, but they do what they can to make sure she can practice, and she in turn is willing to look after the fire and clean the room and so on. It is interesting how she never really becomes part of the Gang - she's not a total Billy No Mates, she does make friends, but music always comes first and she always has this feeling of being slightly detached from her peers.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 21:04 
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Would you like '"She's a little darkie" any better, though? Both were common at the time, and I distinctly remember my eldest cousin's daughter (born in 1965) saying to her mother (quote) "People will think you're a nigger" because my cousin was both dark-haired and suntanned. To us now it's no less horrible because it's casual racism, but it was very common indeed, and as others have said, not deliberately nasty.

Genius was first published in 1956 - just over sixty years ago, when life was very different than it is today, so I'm afraid this really is yet another case of having to make allowance for that.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 03 Sep 2018, 21:06 
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I think the Hilda storyline is one of Mary-Lou's finest hours. Her butting in often annoys me, but she does very well in this book. Everyone is ridiculously hard on Hilda. Injuries do happen in ... OK, leapfrog isn't sport as such :lol: , but injuries do happen in PE lessons. It's not as if she deliberately hurt Nina, or if she was mucking around: it was an accident during a game organised by a mistress, and we're told that Nina wasn't standing correctly because she wasn't used to the game. If she was so afraid of injury, she shouldn't have been taking part in Games lessons. Professional sports players are often banned from things like ski-ing holidays for just that reason.

It's pretty silly to play leapfrog with 15 year olds. It's fine with little kids who won't differ than much in height and weight, but, at 15, one girl could be 9 inches taller and four stone heavier than another.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2018, 12:30 
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I don't think Nina should have done leapfrog either tbh, not if she had to protect her wrists that much. And Mary-Lou is great in the book. In fact, I like her in the Swiss books in general that I've read, although she is a bit obnoxious in 'Barbara'. The series takes a noticeable downturn once she leaves the school.
Noreen wrote:
Would you like '"She's a little darkie" any better, though? Both were common at the time, and I distinctly remember my eldest cousin's daughter (born in 1965) saying to her mother (quote) "People will think you're a nigger" because my cousin was both dark-haired and suntanned. To us now it's no less horrible because it's casual racism, but it was very common indeed, and as others have said, not deliberately nasty.

Genius was first published in 1956 - just over sixty years ago, when life was very different than it is today, so I'm afraid this really is yet another case of having to make allowance for that.

I know, it was common for people to throw that word around a lot in the old days, I just didn't realise WHITE people got called it. I thought the word only referred to black people.


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2018, 13:03 
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Fair point!


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2018, 13:09 
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Lotte wrote:
I know, it was common for people to throw that word around a lot in the old days, I just didn't realise WHITE people got called it. I thought the word only referred to black people.


I think that is why some of the misunderstandings have occurred, because people of colour have been upset, thinking it was directed as a pejorative term to them, when at this period - and I don't excuse more recent usage - it was a neutral term used for all people who had any darkness of colouring, including just their hair, and that anyone who had learnt latin would know the derivation for.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2018, 13:13 
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abbeybufo wrote:
Lotte wrote:
I know, it was common for people to throw that word around a lot in the old days, I just didn't realise WHITE people got called it. I thought the word only referred to black people.


I think that is why some of the misunderstandings have occurred, because people of colour have been upset, thinking it was directed as a pejorative term to them, when at this period - and I don't excuse more recent usage - it was a neutral term used for all people who had any darkness of colouring, including just their hair, and that anyone who had learnt latin would know the derivation for.


One of our family names was "Blakeman" - referring to a dark-haired family in an area where many were blonde or ginger. Similarly "Fairhead"

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 04 Sep 2018, 14:47 
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Oh yes, lots of surnames commenting on colouring - Whitehead, Polyblank, Horabin, Blakelock, Redhead, Blount, Russell, as well as the more frequently found Black, White, Grey etc...


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 Sep 2018, 20:09 
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Irish speakers will know more about this than I do, but in the Irish language I recall that when a person is described as black, it means they have dark hair. (The word for actual black people means 'blue people'.)

Someone commented earlier on Tom making houses and I'm in the camp that thinks she'd jump at the chance, and I think at this point she's in London so she'd probably get the kids in her youth club to help as well. Tom's houses are like little works of art. (And I'm another one who loves Elisaveta and is glad to see her back.)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 05 Sep 2018, 20:13 
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Lotte wrote:
Irish speakers will know more about this than I do, but in the Irish language I recall that when a person is described as black, it means they have dark hair. (The word for actual black people means 'blue people'.)



Those of us who read Barbara Taylor Bradford's books in the 1980s :lol: will remember that Emma Harte's best friend, Shane O'Neill, was known as "Blackie" because he was a "black Irishman" - a white person with dark hair and eyes. Maybe it'd be considered offensive now, but 40 years ago (I think the book was originally published in the late '70s) it wasn't.

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 06 Sep 2018, 23:37 
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You see the same problem with sites claiming that this person or that (Charles II was one) must be African because they were referred to as "black" or had "black" in their names.

That's a modern usage being imposed on a historical use. Charles II was known as "The Black Boy" not because he was African but because of his hair colour. (And the last "King of Scotland" wasn't African just because he had "Dhu"/"Dubh" in his name...)


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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 07 Sep 2018, 11:37 
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Victoria wrote:
You see the same problem with sites claiming that this person or that (Charles II was one) must be African because they were referred to as "black" or had "black" in their names.


By that logic my ancestors must have been aliens from outer space? :)

(Lesley Green)

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 Post subject: Re: Books: A Genius at the Chalet School
PostPosted: 09 Sep 2018, 16:46 
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Lesley wrote:
Victoria wrote:
You see the same problem with sites claiming that this person or that (Charles II was one) must be African because they were referred to as "black" or had "black" in their names.


By that logic my ancestors must have been aliens from outer space? :)

(Lesley Green)



:lol: :lol: :lol: a


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