In light of the recent “sanitization” of Mark Twain’s Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer, I don’t believe we have gone far enough in changing words that may offend the sensibilities of some segment of our population. This occurred to me last night as I watched the ATT Cotton Bowl.
I realized that I think the word cotton is offensive.
Cotton was at the core of the slavery period in the United States. You may think this relationship is a stretch but it is no different than blaming guns for murder and mayhem and that view is promulgated by many of the intellectual elite in our country. So as I watched the Cotton Bowl I was offended.
It didn’t help that the players in the game were not compensated for their services while their institutions and governing bodies reaped millions of dollars. It didn’t help that many of those players were African-Americans who were once again being subjected to the modern day version of servitude.
But let’s get back to the offensive word – cotton.
Cotton is also a reflection of the period racial segregation in our country. Have you ever seen cotton that is any color than white? Where is the diversity? Cotton doesn’t reflect the racial composition of our great country and I think that is offensive. And what material is used in the robes and pointy hats of the Klan?
Quite frankly the chemical companies almost eradicated cotton back in the 60’s with the invention of polyesters, but like most evils, cotton got a second life with the creation of the Cotton Board.
There is precedence for changing the name of things we find offensive. Some years ago we found a use for the oil from rape seeds. Marketers were worried they would have trouble selling rape oil. So we have canola oil.
Patrick T. Malone
The PAR Group
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