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MatPlus.Net Forum General Let's stop using the word "pickaninny" now
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(41) Posted by Valery Gurov [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 12:02]

Господи, какое счастье, что я живу в стране, где можно смело сказать : Товарищ негр!
И это не оскорбление - это уважительное обращение к представителям Африки :-)
Это все равно, что меня назвать - белый, европеец, русский и т.д. да хоть шурави!
Вы в своей толерантной Европе скоро до ручки дойдете - уже термин пиккенини хотите грохнуть, который придумал сам Самуэль Лойд.
Может кожу в черный цвет покрасите? А то мало ли что...
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(42) Posted by Valery Gurov [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 12:09]

I'm a helpameter. I'm absolutely tolerant - black to play! :-))) Idiotizm.....
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(43) Posted by Kenan Velikhanov [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 13:25]

Let's say the term Pickeninny will be removed from the bases. During this long time, a lot of newspapers, magazines have been published, books have been published and this term is used everywhere, but what to do about it?
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(44) Posted by Kenan Velikhanov [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 13:53]

Until recently, I suggested calling the imitation of the black queen, the pawn "Imishli theme". Even not long ago the respected Dan K. Gurgiu held a tournament. So you can rename the term as "Imishili" and pseudo Imishli.
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(45) Posted by Никита Кравцов [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 14:08]

Grandmaster Vladimirov in the book "1000 chess problems" writes that on farms for breeding crocodiles this word is called young crocodiles
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(46) Posted by Neal Turner [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 15:13]

Just screaming that something is nonsense isn't any kind of argument, and doesn't do anything to advance the debate.
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(47) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 16:21]

Yes Valery, you may thank God that in your country, unlike mine, you do not see first-rate politicians kneel down before a black delinquent. Paint their skin in black is probably the next step.
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(48) Posted by Peter Wong [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 16:59]

I agree with Andrew and others proposing a change from the derogatory term, pickaninny. A few good alternatives have been mentioned, and on my site I decided to go with Shankar Ram's suggestion of "BP4" for now, as it's very neutral.

Most of the arguments against change are awful, especially the claim that the term isn't offensive. It reminds me of the Humpty Dumpty quote in 'Through the Looking-Glass': "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less." This is a joke, because a word's meaning, including its connotation and whether it's offensive, is determined collectively by society, not by an individual's preference. We can easily find out if society views "pickaninny" as an offensive term nowadays, by looking up an amazing invention called "dictionaries."  
noun, plural pick·a·nin·nies.Older Use: Now Offensive.
a term used to refer to a Black child.  
dated, now offensive
—used as a term for a black child 
Used as a disparaging term for a young black child.

To claim that the word isn't offensive is to say that you're right and all the dictionaries are wrong. And if you believe that, you must be living in the Looking-Glass world.
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(49) Posted by Valery Gurov [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 17:44]

Dear Alain,
Thank you for your words! I am truly glad that we understand each other!
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(50) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 19:52]

Cпаси́бо Valery. Maybe I'll finish like Gérard Depardieu !!!

I don't consider at all this quibbling about "all the dictionaries", because they are all constantly copying each other. And they want to be "à la mode" (in fashion), where we must consider the "Blacks" as the only people suffering in the world. Just the same as if you told me "all the french newspapers say something, so it must be true". Except that everybody copies the AFP ("agence france presse") which is a real lie factory. Only one example : no newspapers (except confidential ones) have recalled the criminal past of the 2 "niggers", in USA & France, that we were forced to adore.

Even if you were right and if we did not have the right to talk about "pickaninnies" in New York streets, I just observe that we are chess problemists, a small minority of them is native english speaker, using english by obligation, and we are not in Harlem.
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(51) Posted by Vladimir Tyapkin [Monday, Aug 10, 2020 22:02]

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(52) Posted by Vladimir Tyapkin [Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020 00:09]

Dear comrades of community,

I am new to this chess problem thingy. I recently came across a few definitions and found it exceedingly troubling:

Directmate in 2: White begins and mates black in two moves.
Not only white makes the first move, they also checkmate the black. This makes black race (pardon, side) inferior. It's racist! I shed a lot of my leftist tears thinking about it.

Helpmate in 2 Black begins and helps to checkmate the black king in 2 moves
While there is a progress with black making the first move, it's highly abusive to gang up against a single dude (pardon, piece). It's terrible to be black king in a helpmate and made me cry.

Selfmate in 2: White begins and forces to checkmate the white king in 2 moves
Finally, it's white side who's checkmated, but it's very wounding that white forces black to do something against their will. This is violence and totally inappropriate. It is exactly a sign of white supremacy and a direct reference to slavery.

And how about the term 'to mate' a king? This could be a reference to sexually improper behavior. What if king is still a minor? My chess set is only 2 years old.

My 1992 Longman dictionary lists 'pickaninny' as a taboo word. How dare you still use it in 2020? Was there not enough time to replace it with something more appropriate?

I find your pastime deeply offensive, full of derogatory and racist references. I cannot believe you call that art and poetry. I strongly insist you ban that racist terminology and demand a personal apology. Shame on your community, you are the worst. I am outta here and back to my safe space.
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(53) Posted by Peter Wong [Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020 04:15]

"A slippery slope argument (SSA), in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is often viewed as a logical fallacy[1] in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant (usually negative) effect.[2] The core of the slippery slope argument is that a specific decision under debate is likely to result in unintended consequences. The strength of such an argument depends on the warrant, i.e. whether or not one can demonstrate a process that leads to the significant effect. This type of argument is sometimes used as a form of fearmongering, in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the audience."
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(54) Posted by Oleg Efrosinin [Tuesday, Aug 11, 2020 08:37]

I suggest not to stop at changing the name of one theme. Revolution so a revolution in chess!
To do this, we need to radically change the rules. 1) The black pieces go first. 2) White pieces can only go on white fields. 3) Black pieces cannot be beat. Hurray!
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(55) Posted by Rosie Fay [Thursday, Aug 13, 2020 10:50]

Geoff Foster: The 8 moves of a knight are called a knight's wheel for a black knight, and a knight's tour for a white knight.

We have white knight's wheels as well as black ones. A knight's tour is a sequence of moves by which a knight visits all the squares on a board in succession. The board is otherwise empty.
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(56) Posted by Andrew Buchanan [Friday, Aug 14, 2020 17:30]

Dear friends,

I am grateful to all those who took the time to express their opinions, and particularly for the calm and rational tone of debate. I had thought that everyone must immediately agree with me :) but I now have a more accurate picture, and this discussion has drawn me closer to some of the people who have responded here and outside MatPlus, on both sides of the debate. I don't know whether they feel the same! :)

"Pickaninny" is a pretty word with innocent origins - if not, it would hardly have been applied by Fred Janet in 1914 to a fertile chess theme also termed BP4, as Shankar Ram pointed out. But the word has aged badly: its common usage today in anglophone countries is malicious, derogatory or patronizing. Even the current UK Prime Minister (who does not often say sorry for anything) did indeed apologize at one point for using this word. In fact, the word has attached itself to him: just yesterday the UK Guardian newspaper described him as "Boris Johnson, a man who had called black people 'piccaninnies'".

We problemists aren't racists, and our intention has absolutely nothing to do with race. But if we continue to use this term, I see two issues:
(1) It can in fact cause hurt to some black chess enthusiasts, particularly the young in social media,
(2) It can cause our community to be regarded as insensitive, self-absorbed, and out of touch.

No one can remove an existing term from the vast body of chess problem writing. I can't dictate what words other problemists use: we are all free spirits. Language decisions are for individual writers & editors. Personally, I would like a canonical term that I can use without feeling ashamed. I hope those who manage the core databases and wikis feel as I do.

The alternative name I'd suggested met with little interest, so I withdraw it! Another candidate, "BP4" is logical and sometimes codes can be cool (007, XKCD, Su-27 etc). However this acronym is in English: it might instead be sB4 in German, PN4 in French etc, the multiplicity makes it harder to search for.

Christian Poisson has proposed the term "Albino noir" [black Albino] - with "Albino (blanc)" [(white) Albino] referring to what we currently refer to as just Albino. This is consistent with other terminology (e.g. "Plachutta (noir)" and "Plachutta blanc" refer to a theme that was initially for Black). Indeed Christian feels sufficiently strongly about this, that he has already modified the Problemesis glossary: His terminology works fine for me, unless someone can come up with an amazing suggestion very soon.

Nothing is perfect, words have multiple meanings, some slopes are slippery, it's only a word, sticks and stones. But I believe we are better off without this one word.

Thanks again for your time,
Gens Una Sumus,
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(57) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Friday, Aug 14, 2020 19:58]

And "Albino noir" or simply "Albino" is not "malicious, derogatory" for white people ?
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(58) Posted by Alain Villeneuve [Friday, Aug 14, 2020 20:00]

"White lives matter" also !!!
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(59) Posted by Jakob Leck [Saturday, Aug 15, 2020 00:50]

They do, Alain, but I think this statement is rather unnecessary here.

The term albino is actually regarded as offensive as well by some, see Seems like the euphemism treadmill has outpaced us here too.

Short digression:
This example again leaves me bemused. If people have been teased by others for being an albino, how do they come to find the term "albino" offensive? It's what people do or say to them that is hurtful, not the word (alone). Renaming themselves as person with albinism will not change people's attitude towards them, they will still be identified as different. I quote: "When a person is referred to as an albino, he or she is essentially being reduced to and defined by nothing more than their condition." Am I not doing the same by referring to the person as a "person with albinism"? The term "person with albinism" sounds unnecessarily complicated and really feels like a euphemism.

I personally always see it with a certain unease when people overzealously take strange measures to seemingly combat racism (or other types of offense), or are overzealous or inconsistent in identifying racism (a recent hillarious - well, maybe not - example for German speakers is (I don't want to diminish the work of people fighting racism! Sadly the things I mention do happen from time to time.)
Racism is a serious issue, but then in fighting it or educating people about it you have to be careful not to overstep a mark. Making ill-founded claims about things being racist is not going to help your cause. Of course, we always have to tread carefully when the subject is language. And while some cases are clear, some require discussion.
The black-and-white-world-view argument that the word in itself is offensive just because it is marked as such in the dictionary - and the dictionary is always right, right? - while the writers of the dictionary presumably were unaware of the use of the term in chess, is clearly not the end of this discussion.

While not supporting them, I appreciate your efforts, Andrew. And I hate to continue destructive criticism here - I tried to come up with a better replacement term, failed apparently - but the black/white Albino does not seem to be a good solution to me.
Firstly, if the recognition of the word "albino" as offensive became more wide-spread, you would be changing the terminology again in a few years or decades.
More importantly, "white Albino" seems to carry a superfluous word while "black Albino" seems to be a contradiction. Unless you say that you are only using "Albino" as the theme in chess, without ideas of skin color or pigmentation attached to it. But then you could have kept the Pickaninny.

The two issues you mention are indeed good reasons to think about. (Although, speaking for myself, if I'm being judged as insensitive I really don't care when this is based on a superficial judgement.) For the reasons I've given I would not be willing to change the terminology, but I see why you would want to and agree that it would maybe avoid delicate situations - or shall I say seemingly delicate? - or possibly discouraging black chess enthusiasts.
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(60) Posted by Peter Wong [Saturday, Aug 15, 2020 17:27]

The black-and-white-world-view argument that the word in itself is offensive just because it is marked as such in the dictionary - and the dictionary is always right, right? - while the writers of the dictionary presumably were unaware of the use of the term in chess, is clearly not the end of this discussion.

You are missing the point that some people here are claiming that even in the non-chess context, 'pickaninny' is not an offensive term. That's a claim easily refuted by consulting a dictionary, an independent source compiled by language experts who impartially describe current usage of terms (only people way behind the times in social norms would say these experts have a political agenda). That in chess we use the term without any derogatory intention doesn't change how the word is actually offensive in general usage today. Needless to say, people who imply that all the language experts are wrong, that the word isn't offensive even in the non-chess context, are unable to provide any evidence for that.

Still, I think you have highlighted the key issue of this debate – whether problemists care that a racially offensive term is used in their field. People who don't care about racial sensitivity generally don't want to admit that, hence they prefer to justify their feelings with elaborate arguments against the change, even when their spurious claims and slippery slope fallacies are easily refuted. Those who do care about racial sensitivity want to make the change and get back to chess. Any flaws of the new term won't be as big as the flaw of a word that's racially derogatory.
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MatPlus.Net Forum General Let's stop using the word "pickaninny" now