Uppity. What does that mean?
Today Georgia Rep. Lynn Westmoreland used the racially-derogatory term "uppity" to describe Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle. Westmoreland said "just from what little" he has seen of them, he considers them to be elitist and uppity.
The first definition in the dictionary is "affecting an attitude of inflated self-esteem; haughty; snobbish."
The second is "taking liberties or assuming airs beyond one's station; presumptuous."
The third is a term "originally used by blacks of other blacks felt to be too self-assertive (first recorded use is in "Uncle Remus").
Assuming the best, he called them snobbish. Assuming the worst, it screams of racism. It's what some call a "code word" used to send the message that blacks need to "stay in their place." Or was he just saying they are assuming airs "beyond their station"?
Then I ask myself whether this was a major gaffe, a grotesque prejudice, or a well-timed distraction to deflect discussion from the wars and other Republican failures. Sen. McCain tonight acknowledged the Republican failures of the past several years, saying in his RNC acceptance speech, "We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us." That's a pretty major admission.
Even assuming the "best" of Westmoreland's "uppity" comment, it is inappropriate, ignorant, and not befitting of a pubic servant in 2008. Words matter.
As an aside, Westmoreland cosponsored a bill to place the Bible's Ten Commandments in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and he sponsored a bill to place them in U.S. courthouses. Does he remember the Ninth Commandment? "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." (Exodus 20:16); (Deuteronomy 5:20).
Our elected leaders must remain vigilant in discussing important public issues without resorting to racial slurs and falsehoods. Hold them accountable.
Stephen Camp is running against Westmoreland now for the Congressional Seat in the Third District in Georgia. Check out his website: http://www.stephencampforcongress.com/?page_id=2
Source: uppity. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/uppity (accessed: September 04, 2008).