ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.

Is this folk tale racist/offensive?

(8 Posts)

I changed it to "Gum-baby" as in the Anansi story it originated from, the figure is made from gum.
Ebook is already changed, print book changes will take effect from next print run, in the meantime I've made an insert for the remaining stock saying that the book tells traditional tales, and though some terms used have since been used perjoratively, in this context they are not intended to cause offence.

Mrspresley in the story, Brer Fox makes a pretend person out of tar, to trap Brer Rabbit, not sure what I could change the substance to while staying true to the story. I think I'll just have to replace the story.
I really didn't realise it was racist, and there are 100 or so books out there that give the impression I amblush.

msrisotto Sun 09-Mar-14 07:59:35


Have a look at Wikipedia. There 's some debate around it, but I wouldn't use it. It does sound like a racial slur.

Coconutty Sun 09-Mar-14 07:58:46

Sorry but I class the term Tar baby as very offensive. It's from the horribly racist term, a touch of the tar brush.

Thankfully not heard anymore really.

MrsPresley Sun 09-Mar-14 07:58:43

I haven't heard the expression "tar baby" for years thankfully!

But when I was growing up in 70s it was used as an insult sad. Could you change the word "tar" to something else?

I have sold half the current print run, can change it for future print runs, but now I'm a bit concerned that my readers may think I'm racist!

chibi Sun 09-Mar-14 07:52:59

you sound like you have already decided tbh

My proofreader just looked over my book, one of the stories in it is "Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby".
She said she'd only known the term "Tar Baby" used as a racist slur, but I only know it as a Brer Rabbit folk tale. I don't want to offend my readers unintentionally, but neither do I want to pull a perfectly good story because some people have added racist connotations to it.
What should I do?

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