Cornering the Market

Hola mi Gente,

Well, my beloved Mutts are a good team and baseball’s spring training is about to start! That’s a good thing…

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 02-22-16_ Cornering the Market

Cornering the Market

These “new” whitemen were called scramblers because they would rush on board a Slaveship before it docks and brave the filthy stench…

— Richard Ligon, A True and Exact History of the Island of Barbados

 

Not that long ago, I overheard two of my colleagues describing a bigoted real estate player (who shall remain nameless ::wink::) as a “cracker.” My colleagues were white, raised in the northeast, progressive-thinking, activists — two people I hold in high esteem. Anybody that knows me even for a little while knows that I’m not exactly “politically correct.” I transgress at least once a day.

I am also a lover of words and love to explore word and phrase origins. Having traveled lived in the South, I was aware of the word’s origin. Well, at least as it was explained to me by a genuine “cracker.” He said that the word cracker came from the sound of the whip used to beat slaves. When I informed my colleagues, they were horrified! They never used the word again. Of course, now I go out of my way to say “cracker” in their presence at least once a month.

Language is a powerful thing and many of our everyday words and phrases come from ignoble origins. Take “handicap,” for example. Handicap comes from the phrase “hand in cap” used to describe the physically challenged who were forced to beg for money. Not exactly a nice phrase.

Better yet, let’s take the common phrase, “cornering the market.” To corner the market is a good thing, right? It means dominating and economically exploiting a market. Not bad, right? Well the phrase has its origin from the behavior of “Scramblers.” Scramblers would rush on board a slave ship before it even docked. They would wade through the filth and death stench of these slave ships so they could get their pick of the healthiest looking captives. They would separate their picks from the rest and have them placed in a corner of the deck. Hence the origin of the capitalist term “to corner the market.”

It is interesting to note how many of what I call the chattering class (people on social media, for the most part) spend their time reifying, through conscious and unconscious advocacy of neoliberalism, the horrifying and dehumanization of the hidden meaning of cornering the market.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

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