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Is Minstrel a racist term?

(104 Posts)
sammie96 Sat 23-Sep-17 09:47:36

We have recently adopted a cat who came with the name Minstrel. It is black and white.
I’m not entirely comfortable with the name so want to try and change it but my children are adamant it stays the same. They obviously aren’t aware of ‘The Minstrel Show’ and it’s racist association and until I looked further into the name it is also a term used for a certain sexual act! How can I explain all this? AIBU?

ChinUpChestOut Sat 23-Sep-17 09:55:32

I personally wouldn't have a black & white cat named Minstrel as I am old enough to remember those horrendous shows. Wouldn't want any reminders of them around my house. If you can't easily change the cat's name without a long convoluted explanation that might include references to sex acts (blush), shorten the cat's name to Minnie. Kids love nicknames, and they should pick that up in no time.

AnUtterIdiot Sat 23-Sep-17 09:57:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LoniceraJaponica Sat 23-Sep-17 09:57:38

I would think that anyone under the age of 40 would associate the name with chocolate rather than a dubious TV show from the 1970s.

Medieval singers were also called Minstrels.

SoupDragon Sat 23-Sep-17 09:58:51

I was going to say no but actually I think it's a bit dubious given the cat is black and white.

silkpyjamasallday Sat 23-Sep-17 10:00:34

I second @ChinUpChestOut just call the cat Minnie from now on. I'm assuming it has come to you having been owned by an elderly person who named it and the rescue therefore didn't change it not noticing the connotations, rather than the rescue naming it minstrel, if that was the rescues chosen name I would probably have a word with them.

PerfumeIsAMessage Sat 23-Sep-17 10:01:04

What Soup said.

My immediate thought is Shakespearean singers with bells on hats.

For a black and white cat? Nope.

Toadinthehole Sat 23-Sep-17 10:01:05

Minstrel is just an archaic term for singer/performer.

But given that your cat is black and white the names an allusion to the Black and White Minstrel Show, isn't it? Not very PC.

Saucery Sat 23-Sep-17 10:02:33

For a black and white cat I'd be changing it (Minnie is a good idea). Not that it will answer to anything unless it chooses to grin

unlimiteddilutingjuice Sat 23-Sep-17 10:07:51

Yeah, change the name to Minnie.
It's clearly a "humerous" reference to the cat being black and white.
You don't want people thinking you named it that!

MargaretCavendish Sat 23-Sep-17 10:11:32

It makes me a bit uncomfortable too for a black and white cat. But then I changed our cat's name from Columbus because I didn't like the colonial overtones! Recently a cat shelter near me posted that they had a beautiful black cat for adoption and people commented on the photo saying 'oh looks just like my...' with an astonishing variety of racist names! Lots of black celebrities, Django and even Sambo shockconfused So apparently racist cat names is a definite thing, at least where I live...

craftsy Sat 23-Sep-17 10:15:15

Like most people said, it's not a racist word in itself. It can mean a chocolate or a wandering musician. But as the cat is black and white, the context changes and it does reference a racist tv show.

Saucery Sat 23-Sep-17 10:19:20

They do it here, too, MargaretCavendish. One of those names was used by a Rescue for a black kitten. The person who rehomed them changed that sharpish!

corythatwas Sat 23-Sep-17 10:38:53

Agree that it's the black and white that makes it sound a bit suspicious. Otherwise, my first association would be to sweets and my second to medieval entertainers.

IamDBCooper Sat 23-Sep-17 10:48:19

Omg. When I picked up my black and white Kitten 11 years ago the woman said oh we’ve been calling her minstrel and she did a funny laugh and I never realised why and thought nothing of it. Now I know why! I changed her name anyway!

Muskey Sat 23-Sep-17 10:50:47

Erm.....no.......it's not racist at all.......medieval performer.....chocolate....a wandering minstrel I (song from a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta can't remember which one......are Morris dancers who blacken their faces making some racist remark ......Neil diamond blackened his face in the film the jazz singer...It's a cat for goodness sake

SoupDragon Sat 23-Sep-17 10:59:18

are Morris dancers who blacken their faces making some racist remark

No because they aren't pretending to be black people.

Neil diamond blackened his face in the film the jazz singer

Racist at worst, politically incorrect at best. And 37 years ago.

RatRolyPoly Sat 23-Sep-17 11:02:19

At first I thought no, not for a black and white cat...

But then a pp reminded me of Minstrel chocolates, which were AMAZING (can you still get them??) which make perfect sense for a black and white cat. For those not in the know Minstrels are like giant chocolate M&Ms, some with white chocolate centres and milk chocolate shells, some with milk chocolate centres and white chocolate shells.

I think if you can face bringing up the sweets to any friends and family who look a bit perturbed by the name you'd be absolutely fine to keep it to appease your children. After all it'll mostly only be your family who care what your cat is called.

RatRolyPoly Sat 23-Sep-17 11:04:31

Thinking about it, were Minstrels chocolates making reference to black and white minstrels? I think i may have been a bit dense here... Can I change my answer??

tigerdriverII Sat 23-Sep-17 11:06:06

Minstrel: lovely name for any cat other than black and white. Minnie or Strella would do.

Bit off topic but anyone else remember when black and white pets were called Whisky?

BoysofMelody Sat 23-Sep-17 11:11:06

Of course the term minstrel in itself isn't racist, it is a term for a musician, but the context (as a name for a black and white cat) its being used in is clearly racist and referencing a troupe of 'entertainers' who painted themselves as grotesque parodies of black people.

The cat would be getting his name changed pronto, the reference is

longestlurkerever Sat 23-Sep-17 11:14:51

Aren't minstrel chocolates the ones with all sorts of centres? Malteasers and raisins and stuff? Otherwise yes, it suddenly seems an insensitive name for chocolate too

longestlurkerever Sat 23-Sep-17 11:15:45

I think you can explain to your children that the cats name is not a very nice joke

RaininSummer Sat 23-Sep-17 11:16:12

Well I am oldish and wouldn't even have thought of the b and w minstrel show, only the sweets. I think its a nice cat name. One word, many meanings.

daisypond Sat 23-Sep-17 11:17:10

Minstrel only means a musician/singer to me, as in "wandering minstrel" of medieval days. Or the sweets. I do vaguely remember the Black and White Minstrel Show, but even then, I wouldn't associate the specific word minstrel itself with racist undertones. However, I've just looked up the word, and the word minstrel in American history does have a different meaning relating to blackened faces for performers, and this is something I didn't know at all. So, yes, could be racist.

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