“We pride ourselves on our multiculturalism and inclusiveness, but what kind of message are we sending to visitors and new Canadians from that region (South Africa) when they see this racial slur being used for a trendy ingredient with no thought as to how hurtful it might be to a segment of our own population?”The Vancouver Sun reports on the increasingly popular southeast Asian lime with the shockingly racist but obscure in Canada name.
An Encyclopedia of Swearing by Geoffrey Hughes notes the original meaning of the K-word is derived from the Arabic kafir, which means an unbeliever of Islam, also known as an infidel. It was used by Arab traders to refer to the indigenous peoples of Africa, then taken up by Portuguese sailors and subsequently picked up by Dutch and British colonists, especially in South Africa. By the 1800s, it was viewed as a racial slur and became increasingly taboo, and by 1976 the K-word was actionable in court in South Africa as crimen injuria. Some readers may recall that apartheid only ended in 1994, so the fact that this term was considered an affront to a person’s dignity prior to the abolition of apartheid should give cause for pause. Food writer Mick Vann has explained that the K-word was linked to the lime because the non-white workers used this lime in their cooking.
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