Friday, June 28, 2013

Did you just call me a Cracker?

Well, if you did; come over here and let me hug your sweet self.

I have, wisely I think, avoided any discussion of the Zimmerman trial. The news of the last few days though has, unwisely I think, led me to believe that I at least need to help the rest of the nation in on a little regional sub-culture secret; “Cracker” is not an insult, but “Cracka” – to be phonetically correct - is.

Cracker is a regional description on par with its cousin Cajun. To the uninitiated, a Cracker is a word that was used to describe the early Western settlers of North and Central Florida (anything south of the I-4 corridor does not count). It is only racial in that most all of them were Scot-Irish-English settlers coming in after the American Revolution, or – like my wife’s family – mixed race escapees from Texas and the near-South West looking for good land and less bloodshed in the post Civil War era. Today, it is just a word to describe a native of North Florida and North-Central Florida. Heck, we even have our own food.

Crackers made a living in Florida through the pre-WWII heat, Yellow fever, malaria, poor soil, and huge hurricanes that came without warning. Tough folks making a living off timber, naval stores, fishing, cattle, and small plot farming. They have the Scot-Irish irascibility combined with a refugee’s distrust of government types and do-gooders. Quick to love, quick to fight, and quick to tell you to mind your own business – my type of people.

Technically, though in self-denial as I am fully citified, I am a Cracker – and quite happy with that description, proud of it as a matter of fact. Though on the margins as Sanford is astride the I-4 corridor, Mr. Zimmerman is a Cracker too – but just technically as like me his family really comes from somewhere else. Hispanic? Heck, look at the Civil War Memorial in downtown St. Augustine – Florida was Hispanic when Hispanic was just “neighbor” – and here, that is really still true as it has been for half a millennia.

All that background and such, that isn’t what we are talking about. What happened yesterday was the use of the word “Cracka.” That word came from outside and has drifted in; it is not the same as “Cracker” – but another toxic gift from the 1960s where it became the other end of the color wheel from “N1gger.” (the “1” is there to avoid the goo that comes from search engines, for the record).
Full stop. Just replace one word for the other, and that is exactly what it means.

For the record, as “there” “their” “they’re” are similar and “niggardly,” “Niger,” and for my Spanish speaking friends know, “Negro” have a similar cadence, but they should not be thrown away simply because the ignorant, racist, and hateful like to use a word that sounds similar.

Back to Cracker. No need to go in to the different types of Crackers today, I don’t want to bore you. There are Swamp Crackers, Dirt Floor Crackers, Cow Crackers …and so on. All that said, call me a Cracker all day long, fine with me. Just don’t call me a Coonass, that’s Byron.

Now, call me a “Cracka” – well, if you do that, you’re just showing your a55. That bad is on you. I’ll just shake my head and pray for you.

But, and if you call me that while you attack me in my neighborhood, you’ll get shot. That is part of Cracker culture as well.

There; your multi-cultural moment of the day. Wait … did I say Dirt Floor Cracker?

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