How To Pair Peppermint Mocha With Frozen Caribou

Natl Geo Jan 1947

Hunters chop a frozen caribou and devour it uncooked. Indians called these northern tribes Eskimos, “Eaters of raw flesh.”

So go the words of this 1947 National Geographic article. Seems pretty cut and dry to me. But evidently we’re not supposed to say “Eskimo” anymore; Eskimo is considered offensive, especially in Canada, being widely thought to stem from a Cree pejorative meaning “eaters of raw meat,” which is precisely, accurately what they are doing in that very image. So I don’t know how that is offensive. But in this day and age, isn’t everything?

Demeaning any group for their race or heritage is clearly wrong, but good luck staying abreast of all the latest victim classes and subsequent acceptable language. It shouldn’t be too hard to avoid the E word if you live in a non-igloo location. Is it okay to say “igloo”? Will the judge allow it?

Calling an eater of raw flesh the word for “eater of raw flesh” seems fine to me, but a sliver of my race pie is European (read: privileged) so what do I know? And I’m in the South, and them is up in the Nawth. So what do I know from Eskimos?

I DO know this is racist:

Absolutely. I get it. Demeaning.

But this next ad from 1958? All I see is a cutie patootie selling me delicious chocolate, which I imagine is waaaay better than frozen caribou. Is there a word for “middle-aged eater of chocolate”? I’ll take it!

There isn’t any hate behind this ad that I can see. But some folks will go looking for it, scavenging for it, desperately trying to find malicious intention. Cute kids sell ads. Always have, always will.

In 2016, then-President Obama signed legislation that replaced Eskimo with “Alaska Native” in federal laws because Non-Inuit people had assigned the term. Isn’t that what all language does? It assigns terms? I guess I just don’t get it there. Does that make people feel like they’re taking their power back if they get to change the language?

So what about Eskimo kisses? Is that okay to say? Is it okay to do?

Is a Native American eskimo-kissing a white male offensive? (If I am to assume she is even Native American based on looks). The boy-child Peter Pan is culturally appropriating a Native American headdress, and that is in the “no-no” column these days. No race is ever allowed to wear anything that another race has ever worn; that is theft, plain and simple. But what if you’re many races, like many of us? A dozen different results from Can you “appropriate” the customs of any of your ancestors and don the gay apparel of your forefathers? Or should I say foremothers? Well, that gets tricky. But let’s be honest: even though she is literally pushing him back, he is metaphorically pushing her down both by being white and male. And immortal.


8 thoughts on “How To Pair Peppermint Mocha With Frozen Caribou”

  1. I have never eaten caribou in any form but I have eaten raw cow and fish. So I don’t have any thoughts on their diet. As for PC nature of language I feel your dismay. But when you get to the point that you think there are more than 2 genders you will buy anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The medium of advertising so often defaults to shorthand tropes and traditional symbols that it can easily slip into the offensive because it is so reductive and deploys stereotypes. Your observations and examples are definitely thought-provoking. Language obviously evolves over time due to many diverse influences and pressures. I tend to have an instinctive, gut reaction to things I find troubling but I then have to pause and ask myself why I have had that reaction. I tend to think that such reflection might be key and I try to live by that maxim of “know better; do better”. I mean, I once won a fancy dress competition – as a small child I hasten to add – dressed in “Chinese” clothing. The cultural appropriation of that now makes me wince and cringe but I didn’t know any better back when I was or 7 whereas I do now and it would be offensive for me to behave in that way now whereas I was simply ignorant before. I also think we need to listen and take heed when someone tells us they find something we (I speak as someone who possesses white privilege) have said is offensive. That is part of the “knowing better” process. When it comes to me taking offence at something someone else has said, I moderate my response based on the speaker’s intent. Was the cause ignorance or prejudice? Are they receptive to me explaining my offence? Do they then adapt their language use to respect and accommodate my perspective? It is all interesting food for thought to be sure and I think we are all just constantly learning and trying to adapt.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. I am wondering why you now cringe at the thought of wearing the fancy dress. I don’t understand how that is being offensive. I can’t imagine not allowing non-white people to wear “white clothes” or “American clothes” (which are mostly made in China anyway). You weren’t trying to be mean. I honestly don’t even see what’s wrong with wearing a geisha costume for Halloween. I guess I am dull.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I don’t really know how to explain it either which is why I wrote about a lot of my feeling being based on gut instinct. I guess I don’t like that I was donning someone else’s traditional dress as if it was just a fun costume. I wouldn’t have a problem had I been dressed up as a specific character, such as Mulan (though this was many decades before that movie) but I guess it is that reductive stereotyping thing. I don’t know. I can’t explain. It just feels wrong now and makes me cringe. I am still trying to learn this stuff too.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I see what you mean. It is subjective, and what makes one cringe does not make another. Some of the stuff my teen and his friends look at seems so offensive to me, and I thought they would be MORE sensitive as a younger generation. It’s a hard line. But certain things in all my older yearbooks before about 1965, all have blackface in them, and I can’t imagine that. I asked a friend of the family who is in her 80s now (bc she did that in the 50s), and they just didn’t find it offensive. ???

        Liked by 1 person

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