Whitelash/Blackface

I recently came across a new word to describe the reaction of the lower class white voter in the United States who voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump as a whitelash. Political commentators say that it was a reaction to eight years of rule by an Afro-American, who they feel has not done very much for them.

whitelash

This type of sharp reaction against someone or some action is commonly called a backlash.

 After declaring Itself a nuclear-free zone in the eighties and questioning the presence of nuclear weapons on foreign warships, there was a considerable backlash against New Zealand from the US military, who cut most military ties with their ally.

The new word connects the ideas of race and repercussion very well. The opposite would presumably be a blacklash.  This word doesn’t exist but sounds perfectly feasible.

The huge gains by Trump in low-income white areas, long neglected by politicians, is regarded as a whitelash.

 Another colour word in the news is blackface.

minstrel

This word refers to the dark-coloured make-up worn by white actors who are pretending to be black people. It derives from the vaudeville era in the United States when white singers and actors would sing songs from the period of slavery. It continued through to the 60’s and 70’s until people finally realised it was really rather racist. As a child I remember seeing a British TV series, The Black and White Minstrel Show with blackfaced actors crooning away to blonde maidens. It seemed so anachronistic as well as racist.

Now British TV has been forced to can a series featuring a white actor, joseph Fiennes, playing Michael Jackson following protests from the singer’s family. Although in the clip I saw, Fiennes still appeared white (as was Michael by the end), journalists have labeled it a case of blackfacing.

fiennes

 

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Outage/Brownout/Blackout

outage

Alternative words for power cuts or failures, when the electricity goes off and you can’t use any of your appliances. I guess they stopped using cut as a word because it sounds so final and all the power companies want to do in these cases is avoid such a sense of finality.

Outage sounds sort of gradual like seepage. It can also refer to computers or systems when they don’t function. This seems to be referring to the computer crashing or the network going down.

Brownout, popular in the US. also seems less dramatic than a blackout, which has connotations of war and the result of deliberate action. A blackout is when there is complete loss of power and a brownout is when the electricity utility reduces the voltage and therefore quality of the power being transmitted through the system.

Outage and brownout have definitely become more popular in recent years in different English speaking countries.

Power outages have been reported in different parts of the city due to the bad weather conditions we have been experiencing.

The Electricity company has reported a complete blackout in the Northern area after a fire in a substation yesterday.