Saturday, July 3, 2010

And Then, I Got Angry at the Dictionary [know what a 'coolie' is?]

Do you know what a coolie is? So here's what a coolie is:

A coolie refers mostly to the people from the Indian subcontinent who undertook the perilous journey across the seas to the plantation settler colonies (Mauritius, parts of East and South Africa, Fiji, the Caribbean etc.) between the 1830s and 1920s. Many of those people ended up being exploited working and settling in those colonies since the riches and the glorious return that were promised to them were never granted. (Duh!)

Now, the term 'coolie' was initially used to disparage those engaged in manual labour, and it was then redeployed by the British colonial administration as racial slur. (Duuhh!! [that's a double-duh, in case you didn't notice])

Why am I saying all this?

Because I wanted to find out what the English dictionary said about the word 'coolie'. And that's what I found:

Coolie: "an unskilled laborer employed cheaply, esp. one brought from Asia."

Now lil'fuckers, that the coolie is Asian or that the coolie is a laborer, that doesn't de facto make him/her 'unskilled'!! If the coolies were really unskilled, how the hell would they have worked their lives on your plantations and produced your tea, coffee, sugar, corn, cotton etc.? Funny how words work and how they acquire their meanings.

I want to question the meaning of the 'coolie'. Methinks a coolie is skilled labor. Who's on with me to question and challenge the dictionary meaning?!


Blair said...

As a half asian, I find I am torn on the matter - my British heritage, wanting to suppress my Asian outrage. I find it ironic that the computer I'm typing this response on was made in Asia by a "coolie". Oh Apple Mackintosh, some things never change.

Amak said...

OOHH? Is that Blair? Is that really, really Blair who commented on my blog?! :S :S :S

I'm star-struck. Woops! I've been following your blog ever since your trip to France last year. And I tend to think that the blogosphere has its stars, and for me, you're one of 'em stars. So yeah, it's a bit like a celebrity blogger just acknowledged my presence.

Can't do this. I'm logging off before I faint...