General Question

brownlemur's avatar

Is this a racist term?

Asked by brownlemur (4081points) June 13th, 2008

I hear people use the word “yessum” as a contraction for “yes ma’am.” I feel like this word has some racist or at least negative connotations. I looked it up on the interwebs but I haven’t come across anything conclusive. Your thoughts?

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22 Answers

PopeJohnPaulJr's avatar

Eye of the beholder.

gailcalled's avatar

Regional? Jubilation T Cornpone (toot-your-own-hornpone) also?

PupnTaco's avatar

I don’t think so. It’s regional.

kevbo's avatar

To me, it sort of harkens plantation/slave days, but I still don’t think it’s racist. It is a southern thing, still, I think.

Harp's avatar

Heck, even “ma’am” is a contraction. This just takes it a step further. “Yesum” and “yessir” were legal tender when I was growing up in Texas.

People in other regions also seem to take offense at “gal”, as being sexist, whereas in my breeding grounds it was simply the natural feminine counterpart of “guy”. We never would have used “guys” to refer to a group including women, as is common practice elsewhere.

marinelife's avatar

Both my parents grew up in Georgia where saying “Yes, sir” and “No Ma’am” was inculcated from childhood (into me too, I might add). “Yessum” is just a slangy shortcut. It is not specifically even black dialect, but regional dialect. I do not see how it can have any racist connotation at all.

Sueanne_Tremendous's avatar

Yes’um was used frequently in our white southern grandfolks home, and not by the hired help exclusively. We young’uns were expected to do the same.

Knotmyday's avatar

The word “racist” is bandied about a little too familiarly these days. It is a serious, career and reputation-destroying charge.
Time to stop this timid nibbling about archaic idioms and start looking at your heart. Be the you that you are, man.

gooch's avatar

Racism is crap. Everything is racist these days to some group. I am so tired of political correctness. Come on people live life. Does it really mater at the end of the day.

marinelife's avatar

@gooch Yes, it matters.

spendy's avatar

@gooch, if you’re saying that the entire concept of racism is crap, as in, it needs to disolve and disappear – I’m with ya. It seems like the human race, for being so advanced technologically and otherwise, is still lacking quite a bit in the logic department. There’s too much awareness and knowledge surrounding us for there still to be so many small-minded, irrational, racist people on this planet. Talk about wasted energy. It’s pitiful.

I second the motion.

marinelife's avatar

@Gooch and spendy If that was what you meant by your coment Gooch, then I misread it. I basically agree with spendywatson.

that1mom's avatar

I don’t think it is necessarily racist, but I do feel weird saying it (as I occassionally say it to my boss) especially since I am part black. lol…Weird? Probably. But it’s true!

scamp's avatar

Lot’s of people in the south say it and it means nothing racist to them. I guess it depends on who says it and how they mean it.

margeryred's avatar

Racist no, but I do believe depending on how it is used it may come off as rude or as a racist innuendo.

This is the way a slave used to speak to the master… (at least that is the way it has been depicted throughout history)

The_unconservative_one's avatar

@gooch You couldn’t be more wrong if you tried.

bright_eyes00's avatar

If you walked into a starbucks in California and said it to someone they wouldnt blink an eye. Someone in the heart of Georgia might take offense. I wouldnt call it racist just rude in certain societies. We have to consider the history behind a word and the place we’re in. If you made a comment about your mother because she was harping on you and you called her a “nazi” while you were in a predominatetly Jewish neighborhood it might be offensive compared to someplace in the south. Its all relative.

bright_eyes00's avatar

in my middle school in California we started this running joke while studying the civil war. we were with our science teacher and he was a real larry. one of the kids in my class was getting yelled at and he said really sarcastically “i’m sorry massa hayes! it wont happen again i swear!” and “massa hayes” kinda stuck all the way through middle school and through our high school until we graduated. the group of kids who knew about it wouldnt find it offensive but i think if the geography had been different some people might have put a stop to it after the first day instead of letting it carry on for five years. just a thought is all…

DeerHunter's avatar

heavens no! we southerners are taught to say yes ma’am no ma’am yessum’ yessir and no sir as children. It’s part of our culture, it’s called having manners ;)

mastercatx's avatar

I thought it originated from the Twi language. It doesn’t necessarily have a meaning. It is a response if someone says “Hello.” or something.

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