CurlTalk

Why is "Jewfro" offensive?

The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
I don't want to assume, but it's kinda hard...
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  • wild_sasparillawild_sasparilla Posts: 4,306Registered Users
    Phoenix wrote: »
    I don't want to assume, but it's kinda hard...

    I don't know what you're assuming, but I'd say it's a combination of the same reason someone with 3c/4a hair who's rocking a very defined twist-out shouldn't be getting compliments on their "wild afro" and the fact that identifying anyone's appearance with their religion in slang is just not cool. I would NOT be happy to have my hair called a "Jewfro," especially since I get my curls both from my Jewish father and my gentile grandma. I wouldn't want to be told I have a "Jew nose" either. (I have a small nose, so nobody will, but the point is, it's a terribly stupid thing to say.) Does that explain things?
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  • medussamedussa Posts: 12,993Registered Users
    I've never heard that expression but looked it up in Urban Dictionary. Yes, it's offensive.
  • The New BlackThe New Black Posts: 16,738Registered Users
    Phoenix wrote: »
    I don't want to assume, but it's kinda hard...

    I don't know what you're assuming, but I'd say it's a combination of the same reason someone with 3c/4a hair who's rocking a very defined twist-out shouldn't be getting compliments on their "wild afro" and the fact that identifying anyone's appearance with their religion in slang is just not cool. I would NOT be happy to have my hair called a "Jewfro," especially since I get my curls both from my Jewish father and my gentile grandma. I wouldn't want to be told I have a "Jew nose" either. (I have a small nose, so nobody will, but the point is, it's a terribly stupid thing to say.) Does that explain things?

    Those situations don't seem parallel at all.

    Do Jewish people refer to their own hair (when kinky) as a jewfro? Or is it IYO slang mainly gentiles use?
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  • wild_sasparillawild_sasparilla Posts: 4,306Registered Users
    Phoenix wrote: »
    Phoenix wrote: »
    I don't want to assume, but it's kinda hard...

    I don't know what you're assuming, but I'd say it's a combination of the same reason someone with 3c/4a hair who's rocking a very defined twist-out shouldn't be getting compliments on their "wild afro" and the fact that identifying anyone's appearance with their religion in slang is just not cool. I would NOT be happy to have my hair called a "Jewfro," especially since I get my curls both from my Jewish father and my gentile grandma. I wouldn't want to be told I have a "Jew nose" either. (I have a small nose, so nobody will, but the point is, it's a terribly stupid thing to say.) Does that explain things?

    Those situations don't seem parallel at all.

    Do Jewish people refer to their own hair (when kinky) as a jewfro? Or is it IYO slang mainly gentiles use?

    No, we don't. It's gentile slang used to peg someone different. Offensive due to intention.

    And okay, sorry, I guess I picked the wrong attempt at a parallel, but I was just choosing a smaller, "weak" reason to come first - too many papers lately. Wrong terminology is annoying, you gotta admit.:colors:
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  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users
    Well, I'm half-Jewish, and I use it whenever applicable. Doesn't bother me at all.
  • HropkeyHropkey Posts: 572Registered Users
    ninja dog wrote: »
    Well, I'm half-Jewish, and I use it whenever applicable. Doesn't bother me at all.

    I'm fully Jewish and I joke about my friends having jewfros. It's kind of part of the culture. When you're with other jews it's okay to joke around about that. But I also use "jewfro" around non-jewish people and no one gets offended.

    Maybe I'm sheltered but I've never found it offensive.
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  • ninja dogninja dog Posts: 23,780Registered Users
    I always think of the term whenever Kyle on South Park takes off his hat.
  • wild_sasparillawild_sasparilla Posts: 4,306Registered Users
    Huh, that's interesting - I know my Jewish friends with higher hairtypes (one is 3c, I identified it, yay! haha) would never want to have their hair called "Jewfro." My experience with the word has not been with Jewish people joking around about it, though you can joke about anything and I can see it. I've only ever heard a gentile use the word...and it was not with a positive tone.

    Depends on your experiences, I guess.
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  • CurlyHairedFarmerCurlyHairedFarmer Posts: 3,073Registered Users
    I have a few Jewish friends, one is a guy the other two are girls. They frequently refer to their hair as a jewfro just as my african american friend refers to hers as an afro or "fro."

    Maybe its okay within the culture?
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  • subbrocksubbrock Posts: 8,212Registered Users
    Phoenix wrote: »
    I don't want to assume, but it's kinda hard...

    I don't know what you're assuming, but I'd say it's a combination of the same reason someone with 3c/4a hair who's rocking a very defined twist-out shouldn't be getting compliments on their "wild afro" and the fact that identifying anyone's appearance with their religion in slang is just not cool. I would NOT be happy to have my hair called a "Jewfro," especially since I get my curls both from my Jewish father and my gentile grandma. I wouldn't want to be told I have a "Jew nose" either. (I have a small nose, so nobody will, but the point is, it's a terribly stupid thing to say.) Does that explain things?

    i thought that was a really good example actually.
  • subbrocksubbrock Posts: 8,212Registered Users
    I have a few Jewish friends, one is a guy the other two are girls. They frequently refer to their hair as a jewfro just as my african american friend refers to hers as an afro or "fro."

    Maybe its okay within the culture?

    i dont know how to do multiple quotes within one post so bare with me.

    i think that has alot to do with it too. kind of like if anyone who wasnt black came up to me and said, "wow look at that headful of nappy hair!" id be like :angryfire::angryfire::angryfire: but there have been many occasions when ive called my own hair nappy. like right now, my hair is nappy as hell, i havent brushed it in 3 days...
  • AmnerisAmneris Posts: 15,117Registered Users
    It's offensive towards both Blacks and Jews. Offensive to Blacks because it takes a Black hair type/style (which was important as a symbol of racial pride and self-awakening) and appropriates it by another culture and also uses it as slang and in a derogatory manner. I hear people all the time using the word "afro" in a negative way - I cannot stand hearing or seeing people with so-called 2, 3a or 3b-type hair saying "My hair looks awful - it's such an afro" (used to happen on the hair board all the time) It's offensive to Jews because it implies hair grading within the Jewish group - certain Jews have "jewfros" (which is usually not a compliment) and others have "nicer" types of hair.
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  • kurlikinkiklassickurlikinkiklassic Posts: 117Registered Users Curl Novice
    Amneris wrote: »
    It's offensive towards both Blacks and Jews. Offensive to Blacks because it takes a Black hair type/style (which was important as a symbol of racial pride and self-awakening) and appropriates it by another culture and also uses it as slang and in a derogatory manner. I hear people all the time using the word "afro" in a negative way - I cannot stand hearing or seeing people with so-called 2, 3a or 3b-type hair saying "My hair looks awful - it's such an afro" (used to happen on the hair board all the time) It's offensive to Jews because it implies hair grading within the Jewish group - certain Jews have "jewfros" (which is usually not a compliment) and others have "nicer" types of hair.

    Good explanation, I totally get it. I thought as much but wasn't able to put it in words. (at least not as clearly)
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  • JillH410JillH410 Posts: 594Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    sorry, guano

    I hope this doesn't offend anyone... but I had no idea what a gentile was so I looked it up. Right under "a person who is not Jewish, esp. a Christian" it says "a heathen or pagan." I found this amusing.

    UNTIL I looked up heathen because I thought maybe it could have a different meaning other than what I had always used it for - a bratty kid. I never new a heathen was someone who was "an unconverted individual of a people that do not acknowledge the god of the bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, or Muslim; pagan" and yet also "uncultured or uncivilized." I'm not a pagan, but that irks me.
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  • rudeechickrudeechick Posts: 6,726Registered Users
    Wow, havent heard that term in decades.

    My older brother and his friends (all Jewish) were in High School in the late 70s and all those with textured hair wore it big, as was the style. It was commonly refered to as a JewFro.

    I take no offense to it.... but truly, anything can be offensive said in an intentionally nasty tone or context.

    I have friends of many races, ethnicities and sexual persuations. And, I agree, there are some things that generally can only be said from one "insider" to another. But I think the relationship and the context are what make something appropriate or not.

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  • geminigemini Posts: 3,325Registered Users
    subbrock wrote: »
    I have a few Jewish friends, one is a guy the other two are girls. They frequently refer to their hair as a jewfro just as my african american friend refers to hers as an afro or "fro."

    Maybe its okay within the culture?

    i dont know how to do multiple quotes within one post so bare with me.

    i think that has alot to do with it too. kind of like if anyone who wasnt black came up to me and said, "wow look at that headful of nappy hair!" id be like :angryfire::angryfire::angryfire: but there have been many occasions when ive called my own hair nappy. like right now, my hair is nappy as hell, i havent brushed it in 3 days...

    This seems like something where you have to know your audience. I would never use this term, though. I agree with Subbrock's example--my father in law has said to me "Hey Nappy-head"--while he was just kidding and not being malicious (and this term is harmless), I did not find it funny at all. It's subjective. Someone else would have laughed that off, probably.
  • hmkennyhmkenny Posts: 1,409Registered Users Curl Novice
    This is the first I've heard of that expression. It sounds like a racial slur to me.
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  • Curly Girl FlaCurly Girl Fla Posts: 1,834Registered Users
    rudeechick wrote: »
    Wow, havent heard that term in decades.

    My older brother and his friends (all Jewish) were in High School in the late 70s and all those with textured hair wore it big, as was the style. It was commonly refered to as a JewFro.

    I take no offense to it.... but truly, anything can be offensive said in an intentionally nasty tone or context.

    I have friends of many races, ethnicities and sexual persuations. And, I agree, there are some things that generally can only be said from one "insider" to another. But I think the relationship and the context are what make something appropriate or not.

    You know when your being hated on.
    Good post, and I think the bolded is definitely valid. My sister and I used to try to make our hair a nice afro (we used "afro" as the style in a positive manner--others introduced us to the term "jewfro" later). I could never make my 2/3 hair into an acceptable version, but my sister had a stronger mix of 3a,b&c, and she did the style proud :). My first reaction to this topic was that there was nothing offensive to me about it, but I do believe it all depends on the intent when it is said...
  • geekygeeky Posts: 4,995Registered Users
    I think it can be offensive for all the reasons stated, or it could be OK. All depends on speaker and intent. I've used the term about my own hair. Now that I am comfortable with my hair and my appearance and I am not trying to measure myself against women I see on TV, it's just descriptive to me. I wouldn't use it in a room full of strangers, because it is a little sensitive. I guess "nappy" is a good analogy.
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  • Nappy_curly_crownNappy_curly_crown Posts: 4,162Registered Users
    i grew up in south florida in the 80s and there is a large Jewish population there...and I've always heard the term "jewfro" used by jewish people. Even now, I have jewish friends that have highly textured hair (3c and higher) and they still refer to thier hair as a jewfro.

    I never thought that it was or is a negative term, but I can certainly see how someone that's never hear it before would think that. Honestly, the only reason that someone would take it as in insult is if they thought that by having a traditional afro (read "black" "nappy" "ugly" hair) that having a "jewfro" was somehow a slap in the face by implying that they had hair like "those" people. I guess its all in the context with which it is said and what the intent is behind it.
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  • stefanie.sacstefanie.sac Posts: 3Registered Users
    i have a jew fro some of my friends an family do im proud of it an dont no why some get offend by it i yse black hair proudcts so my friends say i have good hair .i have had my hair realxed that seem to make others happy .my oppion is id you dont like my hair dont look at it lol:)
    we,re all being judged
    by someone who isnt even close to having their own stuff togher
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  • Fifi.GFifi.G Posts: 15,490Registered Users
    Old thread, I know, but funny it was brought back up. One of my friends children has changed his user name on FB to include part of this term. The child does have an absolute head full of curly hair (just like his father), and Jewish heritage (distant/non practicing). He is in high school and "Jewfro" seems to be all the rage right now. *As long as no one is trying to be mean or offensive, and it's used as a term of pride in curly hair, I don't think the kiddo's are evil for it* It was something I heard often from my Jewish curly friends in the late 80's and 90's. I think some are more sensitive to it than others. It isn't something I would blurt out to anyone and everyone but I will discuss the magnificent state of the fro with my friends who are completely comfortable with it, and their wonderful hair.
    When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

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  • anonymous_150263anonymous_150263 Posts: 773Registered Users
    The only time I ever heard this term was from fully jewish friends who used it to describe their own hair.

    My husband has jewish heritage and jokes about his Jewish nose all the time.

    Although I have black hair my mom was a redhed so I'm covered in freckles. I say I have "ginger" skin when my friends tease me about the spf 100 I slather on at the beach. "Ha you would too if you had ginger skin like me". I never knew people thought it was offensive and I think redheads are beautiful.

    I am a true florida cracker born and bred in cow country. My great grandparents were farmers and my family history in Florida runs back to the Spanish American war... I even have some native American/indian blood in me . I take no offense to the term cracker and am proud of my heritage.

    I love all people and all cultures. I find cultural and religious beliefs fascinating. I think if someone wants to take offense on something then they are going to find something to take offense to no matter what. So I limit my jargon to myself and teach my children as well. But my goodness if we can't laugh at our differences then its no wonder our society is so messed up.
  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Posts: 17,495Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    To me, it seems the reason it's offensive is bc it likens the Jewish person, presumably nonBlack, to someone Black.

    (I'm not Jewish so maybe I'm missing something, tho.)

  • EilonwyEilonwy Posts: 12,389Registered Users
    Well, a Jew who's racist could find it offensive because of the comparison to "bad" Black hair. But that's not what makes it offensive.

    The issue is that it uses "Jew" as an adjective, which is typically pejorative. When people are being respectful, they say Jewish. Otherwise, it's Jew boy, Jew money, Jew hat, etc. "Jew hair" would actually be more offensive than "Jewfro," because the former is a lot less likely to be said as part of friendly banter.

    And like others have pointed out, the term can be used to make Jews the "other" and invoke the hair texture hierarchy. It also refers to the classic racial caricature of Jews, which in turn insists that all Jews look the same and therefore are the same: tacky, greedy, treacherous, whatever else you want to throw in.

    That said, even if intended as a racial slur, "Jewfro" is relatively mild and casual as those things go. Basically, if a non-Jew who's not a close friend said it, I'd find it inappropriate and ambiguously offensive. I'd have to wonder about both their attitude toward Jews and their understanding of appropriate boundaries.
  • EilonwyEilonwy Posts: 12,389Registered Users
    JillH410 wrote: »
    I never new a heathen was someone who was "an unconverted individual of a people that do not acknowledge the god of the bible; a person who is neither a Jew, Christian, or Muslim; pagan" and yet also "uncultured or uncivilized." I'm not a pagan, but that irks me.
    In classic use, "heathen" would apply to Muslims too. For a long time, European Christians couldn't accept that Muslims worshiped the same God, so they ascribed all sorts of polytheistic beliefs to Muslims.
  • Fifi.GFifi.G Posts: 15,490Registered Users
    ^ Heathen is a term that has been used to describe the people in my area, on so many occasions. Everyone from the Natives to the Scots-Irish settlers were uncultured, uncivilized, savage, backwoods, Godless heathens. All came from stereotypes. Most the heathen "Rednecks" (which is actually a term in reference to red bandana's that coal miners tied around their necks, to identify each other, when fighting for equal rights and unions in West Virginia rather than the racist term many made it out to be **or sometimes said ro be a description of poor farmers with sunburnt necks a.k.a people who were dared to get their hands dirty and do labor themselves) about settlers started with one publication in 1873 titled A Strange Land and Peculiar People. 99% of the stereotypes are still going strong in 2013, but screw it. I like calling people heathens, every chance I get. May as well throw it back.

    **That's actually a big joke in the App Mountains. Someone drops something... YOU HEATHEN!! ;)
    When I hear terms like "hipster" I think, who told cliques they could leave high school??

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  • curlypearlcurlypearl Posts: 11,970Registered Users Curl Novice
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  • CurlyGrey3CurlyGrey3 Posts: 508Registered Users
    rudeechick wrote: »
    Wow, havent heard that term in decades.

    My older brother and his friends (all Jewish) were in High School in the late 70s and all those with textured hair wore it big, as was the style. It was commonly refered to as a JewFro.

    I take no offense to it.... but truly, anything can be offensive said in an intentionally nasty tone or context.

    I have friends of many races, ethnicities and sexual persuations. And, I agree, there are some things that generally can only be said from one "insider" to another. But I think the relationship and the context are what make something appropriate or not.

    You know when your being hated on.


    Exactly.

    I'm Jewish and grew up in a Jewish suburban area in the same approximate time frame. The guys referred to their hair as Jewfros. They still do sometimes. It's all about context.

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  • spiderlashes5000spiderlashes5000 Posts: 17,495Registered Users Curl Neophyte
    Eilonwy wrote: »
    Well, a Jew who's racist could find it offensive because of the comparison to "bad" Black hair. But that's not what makes it offensive.

    I think even a Jewish person who is not racist might take offense bc just a basic awareness of societal ideals, etc., would tell you that Black hair is not highly esteemed and therefore the intent of the remark would likely not be complimentary. (Not just for Jewish ppl but anyone...)
    Eilonwy wrote: »
    The issue is that it uses "Jew" as an adjective, which is typically pejorative. When people are being respectful, they say Jewish. Otherwise, it's Jew boy, Jew money, Jew hat, etc. "Jew hair" would actually be more offensive than "Jewfro," because the former is a lot less likely to be said as part of friendly banter.

    I have heard this a lot. I assume it must be true (bc so many Jewish ppl say it). But I don't understand why it has to be that way. Why can't "Jew such and such" have a positive connotation? (rhetorical question maybe)
    Eilonwy wrote: »
    And like others have pointed out, the term can be used to make Jews the "other" and invoke the hair texture hierarchy. It also refers to the classic racial caricature of Jews, which in turn insists that all Jews look the same and therefore are the same: tacky, greedy, treacherous, whatever else you want to throw in.

    I think this just speaks to its negative association bc it's Black. Bc if afro-textured hair were perceived as a glorious thing, it wouldn't contribute to an unflattering stereotype.
    Eilonwy wrote: »
    That said, even if intended as a racial slur, "Jewfro" is relatively mild and casual as those things go. Basically, if a non-Jew who's not a close friend said it, I'd find it inappropriate and ambiguously offensive. I'd have to wonder about both their attitude toward Jews and their understanding of appropriate boundaries.

    What if a Black person happily wearing an afro said it? LOL

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