My family is smart enough. My brother’s first words, well, they were words. Plural. A string of noises. Because why start off humbly? My sister’s first word was, “Ma.” (My sister does not show off much.)
Then there was me. My first word spoke to my condition. How I was a nine pound, ten ounce baby. How I was born at just before noon, ready for lunch. How, to this day, I am always snacking.
OR. It could be that I was the racially sensitive one. Because my first word was, “Cracker.”
I asked my coworkers about this slur. We have folks from several races, folks with non-heterosexual relationships; people that have gotten called some terrible things. To this day, I have only had one slur tossed at me. “Cracker.”
“Am I really supposed to be that offended? It is a flaky snack. That is it? How upset is that supposed to make me?”
(We agreed that I had it pretty easy.)
Humans get creative with their curses. We are constantly on the search for new ways to insult each other. “Damn” has been around since the 1300s. “Dickens” appeared in 1590. “Tarnation” came along in 1775. “Dang” showed up in 1780. There is, “To the devil with you.” And perhaps most appropriate, “The deuce you say!”
Come now. Deuce. Dos? Number two! What I am getting at is, poop. You do not need to invent the s-word when you have deuce, already being crappy.
Also, with “cracker”, you have to be specific. If someone is from Florida or Georgia? Then they can be a Florida cracker or Georgia cracker. (As we have seen with other terms, if locals call each other this, it may be taken well. But if an outsider calls someone this, it may be offensive.)
I see theories all over the place. It can be from the 1500s and refer to “cracking wise”, not necessarily a bad thing. In 1776, a letter described crackers as “great boasters”.
There were the Atlanta Black Crackers, a Negro league baseball team. Then, twenty years later, there was another team that took up the exact same name. Oh, and let us not forget the Atlanta Crackers, a Minor League Baseball team, which may have been named after another Minor League team, the Atlanta Firecrackers.
Confused yet? You want to insult me? You want to call me a stupid, low-income hick that gets by on crack-corn? I would ask you to be more specific. If you want to demean me, please refer to me as a “white cracker.”
My coworker had a rather clever response to all of this.
“If I really want to offend a white guy, I just call him a racist.”
OR. Or we could spend all that energy on being nice to each other. We could stop taking things we do not like about each other and blowing them out of proportion. Clearly, we cannot keep track of things. Hundreds of years go by. The phrases change. But we are all still here, trying to figure it all out.
Words only mean what we agree they mean. As George Carlin and The Atlantic pointed out, we make swear words dirty. We do not speak these words, we shoot them. We fire the weapons, hoping to do damage. As a pacifist, I suggest a ceasefire.
Cracker. A flaky, delightful, easy to digest snack. See: Ritz, Cheese Nips, or, Club. Best when shared with others on a big plate with other finger food.
No, not “The Finger”-food. Really, guys? Really? Sigh. This could take some work.