PSA: The Definition of a Coon is Not What Many Think it Is
Public Service Announcement Black folks: the Black stereotype of coon is not someone who disagrees with your viewpoint or has a viewpoint that does not represent the majority of Black people’s views.
While this generation is picking up the torch from the Civil Rights Movement and championing the cause for equal treatment, the generation that claims to be “woke” needs to really wake up and understand the meaning behind the racial slurs it so casually throws around to discredit anyone with a mind of their own.
The “African American Encyclopedia” defines the coon stereotype as follows: “The stereotype, used mainly by White people who wished to disparage Black people and their culture has two sides. One was the bucolic, buffoonish ‘zip coon,’ who muddled through assimilation into White society following emancipation, and the other was an urban gangster who lived in a ghetto, ran numbers, gambled, and wielded a sharp razor.”
UrbanDictionary.com defines the Black stereotype of a coon as “a person of African descent whose sole purpose is to entertain White people…Modern day coons are Blacks who play stereotypical roles and Black entertainers that promote ignorance.”
While there are many Black entertainers who fit this Black stereotype, people who are called by this utterly offensive racial slur often do not.
Rapper Willie D’s controversial song “Coon” initially received some understanding in this publication, but the legendary rapper was also off and wrong in his assessment.
Actually, many gangsta rappers fit this Black stereotype better than those attacked in his song because they promote ignorance, violence, misogyny, drugs and every negative stereotype associated with African-Americans.
The hustler on the corner selling drugs to his own people fits the description better than those who have been branded with this racial slur.
Additionally, the neighborhood jacker, jump out boy, pimp, prostitute and killer fit the description of this Black stereotype more than those who are usually accused of it.
In the song by Willie D, the rapper called journalists and television personalities like Stephen A. Smith, Don Lemon, Stacey Dash and Charles Barkley this racial slur.
While the opinions of some of the aforementioned celebrities might not represent the views of many African-Americans, that does not necessarily mean their behavior fits the definition of this offensive term.
After San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick set off a firestorm for not standing for the national anthem, African-Americans like Rodney Harrison and Ray Lewis (both former NFL stars) were called this racial slur for not agreeing with Kaepernick’s style of protest.
The fact that they do not agree with Kaepernick means that African-Americans do not all think alike, which is a good thing.
It does not make them buffoons, gangsters or pimps like the definition of coon requires.
The fact that there are some opposing views within the African-American community does more to destroy Black stereotypes than it does to perpetuate stereotypes.
Unfortunately, many African-American entertainers had to “coon” back in the day because of a lack of acting roles for them.
And unfortunately, many entertainers in the rap game continue to perpetuate these stereotypes.
However, the talking heads on television and radio should not be erroneously stamped with that label.
On the other hand, ignorance was once a Black stereotype also.
Therefore, those who misunderstand the meaning of Black stereotypes do more to perpetuate these stereotypes than someone with a mind of their own.