3

In Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, the eponymous character was meant to be a sort of model of resistance against slavery, a man who whose "devotion to his fellow slaves is so unshakable that he sacrifices a chance for freedom and, ultimately, his life to help them".[1] Some argue that the term Uncle Tom, as it has been used for the last century, was misappropriated.

So that got me wondering if there were alternative words or phrases used to describe a black or colored person who is subservient to whites.

Some thoughts on alternative names I found with a quick search... The term house negro—on top of being far more incendiary and problematic than Uncle Tom—is only specific to Black people (although I could envision people appropriating the house _____ prefix for other races). For Black women in particular, the term Aunt Jemima is probably more affiliated with the brand of breakfast foods, while Aunt Jane/Mary/Sally are not recognizable terms at all in modern culture.

[1]http://www.theroot.com/articles/politics/2010/05/uncle_tom_from_compliment_to_insult/

  • 14
    The concept you are describing is politically incorrect so, by extension, so will any term you might come up with. – terdon Sep 19 '13 at 17:50
  • If you want a white guy, stuck with Judas or Benedict Arnold. – Affable Geek Sep 19 '13 at 18:06
  • 1
    Just brainstorming here: house slave, trusty, toady, and Stakhanovite all have at least some of the right connotations. – zwol Sep 19 '13 at 22:45
  • I think you need to add some context here. In fiction there might be some appropriate terms, however in modern times I doubt there is a polite term for a colored person who is subservient to whites. – user53089 Oct 4 '13 at 0:18
  • @terdon you're completely correct of course; this whole subject is politically incorrect. More accurate to say that even if one's intention is to insult someone, using the term "house Negro" crosses a line that I am just not comfortable with. – olliezhu Feb 26 '16 at 0:10

12 Answers 12

5

The word "sellout" could be an option and can be applied to any race.

3

I think anything that explicitly highlights the race will be considered too offensive or archaic in modern use. You didn't explain why you would want to use this term, but in today's society there's no need to point out that a black person is subservient to a white person unless you are trying to be critical in some way.

If you intend to make such criticism, but avoid being too offensive, use a phrase like "he's working for The Man".

1

"House servant", Still on the plantation", “Shuck and jive” (the latter in reference to demeanor of such a person.

1

Although I do not use the term, I think that "house negro" fits the description best.

@Terdon states, "The concept you are describing is politically incorrect so, by extension, so will any term you might come up with."

This is completely true, and if you are discussing this fraught topic, an educated person (white or black) will grasp exactly what you mean. It should not be viewed as offensive since the listener will automatically think of its highly offensive corollary "house n****r". Your word choice will be heard as a polite rephrasing of the term that expresses the concept even more bluntly.

Note that this answer is written from an American point of view and that this may not apply in other parts of the English speaking world and may not even apply in America to all situations.

1

Race Traitor, Graham Cracker, Aunt Jemima (for a woman)

1

It's not merely about subservience which may be beyond ones economic or political control but about obsequiousness essentially which goes more to self-betrayal and self-contempt. It's this connotation in a Land of Opportunity which makes Uncle Tom and his counterpart, Aunt Jemima, so reprehensible in the literature.

They are among Dante's opportunists at The Gates of Hell in the Divine Comedy from the 16th Century sacrificing self respect for a seat at a corrupt and enslaving table rather than working productively for The Promised Land. They would rather toil in a self annihilating prison.

To paraphrase Brando in On The Waterfront: "I've got those bums all figured out."

There is a more sympathetic reading but it's inappropriate in a moral crisis under which condition they do not deserve the benefit of the doubt. In a moral crisis it is Loyalty which wins the day not cynical self interest.

Race Traitor is really the operative term.

1

All of the answers so far have focused on derogatory epithets.

But after all,

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological condition that causes hostages to develop sympathetic sentiments towards their captors, often sharing their opinions and acquiring romantic feelings for them as a survival strategy during captivity.

Wikipedia

This is the survival strategy of a victim, especially in the context of slavery.

0

You could arguably go with "colonized," following Albert Memmi's The Colonizer and the Colonized (1956). This book has to do with racism in part, but is also about the mutual reinforcement of the colonizer/colonized roles.

0

An unimaginative answer is simply, "slave."

In modern slang, the only similar term I know of is "Oreo" which is an epithet referring to a person of black skin who acts like a white person. This is slightly different than someone who is explicitly subservient to whites.

Aside from those two variants, I don't believe there is an appropriate synonym for Uncle Tom.

0

Listen people, I don't want to blow your mind or anything but any alternative calling someone a slave nowadays when slavery is abolished kind of feels like a jab at historical events, even the term "uncle tom" is a thousand times better to use. Also consider: A pawn, you can use that someone is being used as a pawn for a political agenda.

0

The modern and colloquial term I've heard used is "OREO," which refers to a cookie that is one color on the outside and a different color on the inside.

0

unless the original question was a bait , why not use the descriptive term you use to ask the question ? " a negro subserviant to whites" ? Or else a word used to describe someone employed only for the appearance of " diversity " - a "token."

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.