Tardsie’s True-Ass Tales: My Racist Cat And The White Guilt She Inspired

By Tardsie

You Disgust Us, Ghost.

When I was a boy, my family adopted a black cat during the Halloween Season.¹ I named her Spook. Although  a word meaning ghost or spirit, spook, if you don’t know (and my wife didn’t until I told her this story, bless her heart), is sometimes used as a racist term for black people. There weren’t a lot of black people in my town growing up (and when I say ‘weren’t a lot,’ I mean they were a single family), and I was completely ignorant of the word’s racist connotations.

That is, until my mom moved us to Lakewood, Washington when I was in the 7th grade. Lakewood, at that time an unincorporated are of Tacoma, Washington, is a far more diverse city than anywhere on the Central Coast. We lived in an apartment complex with mostly white neighbors, but also several black families. One such family, a military couple, had a kid my age, and we played together.

But sure enough, when the neighbor family heard the name of my cat, they asked, “Wow. Don’t you think that’s kind of…racist?”

Well, *A Certain Type Of Person* Sure Thought So!

And when I say ‘neighbor family,’ I mean the WHITE neighbor family. My cat’s name made them feel all funny inside.

The black family whose kid I played with? They never said two words about it, and even took care of the cat once when my mom took me back to California to visit my grandma.

The thought I’d like to leave you with is this: Do you think my friend’s parents were able to look past my cat’s name and see intentions behind the bullshit of labels, or do you imagine that they–originally from Florida and New Jersey and born sometime in the Fifties–had just maybe never heard that word before?

Bad Kitty!

¹Thanks the persistent–and most likely apocryphal–notion that black cats are sacrificed by cultists during Halloween, to this day animal shelters often make a special effort to ensure that black cats are adopted into good homes to prevent this. ∞ T.
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28 Responses to Tardsie’s True-Ass Tales: My Racist Cat And The White Guilt She Inspired

  1. El Guapo says:

    So years later, what did you name your albino cat?

  2. Carrie Rubin says:

    I’m just curious what the name of your street was. That way, we could come up with your porn name. Spook _______.

    • Smaktakula says:

      Oh, my porn name is either Karl Balboa or Winchester Balboa depending on whether you use the middle name (as I do) or pet’s name (as apparently you do) for the first name. Clearly, Ohio uses the accepted “Street name for last name” protocol.

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Yes, which is why I would be Simon Chestnut. How’s that for sexy?…

      • Smaktakula says:

        That’s pretty awesome. Chicks can get away with guy names (up to a point; ‘Harry’s’ not gonna be a big seller). But if I were, say, ‘Chastity Monroe,’ that just doesn’t have the same appeal.

        Well, maybe I’m just not thinking broadly enough.

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        Yeah, or Princess Balboa. That wouldn’t do it for you either. Still, Simon Chestnut sounds like an English tower guard (I was going to use the proper term “English Beefeater,” but that sounded dirty all unto itself).

      • Carrie Rubin says:

        And for the record, your porn names are entirely too sophisticated.

  3. Lil’ K. refers to scary things as “spookables” because she heard the word in the Heffalump movie. I don’t feel guilty.

  4. Maybe your parents were aware of the derogatory meaning of the word but cut you a break because that wasn’t what you were going for? I do like the name as a Halloween-type deal. I had a black cat once but it never occurred to me to name him Spook. But I do have a Hitler cat now, except her mustache is a little off center.

    • Smaktakula says:

      I didn’t have a dad and my mom didn’t know the word. You kinda have to understand where I (and she) grew up. Although it was largely white (with a fair amount of Latinos), we’re pretty non-racist. And not in the touchy-feely “I’m trying really hard not to be racist” way. I didn’t learn any ethnic slurs (even for Latinos) until I moved to Washington State. Seriously, you just don’t hear that kind of thing around here.

      • That’s pretty awesome, to grown up in a slur-free zone. I wish there were more areas like that.

      • Smaktakula says:

        Well, I do love patting myself on the back, but honestly, I think one of the reasons that we are the way we are is because we are largely so white. I’ve noticed in big cities that cultures bump up against each other, and when this happens day after day after day, it’s easy to remember the bad stuff, what you don’t like about a particular group.

        But because we are so white, when we do see people of color (excluding Latinos, whom I’ll return to in a moment), they’re pretty unique, and we’re forced to deal with them as individuals rather than as a group. Moreover, our Latino population is one that in many cases has been in the US much longer than my own family, and as such they have names like (actual name!–the extra characters are so he doesn’t stumble across this on a google search) ‘Chi.p R0mero or Mik.e D0minquez. Many of them speak Spanish, but English is their first language. So when Latinos new to this country come to this area, they learn English very quickly.

        So it’s true that we’re laid back about race, but it may be more a consequence of our demographic than our inherent goodness as people. Except me. That’s all inherent goodness.

    • Smaktakula says:

      In thinking about that a little more, I had heard the really nasty racist word, but only as an abstraction, not as a pejorative.

  5. Cats are, by nature of being cats, very cat-centric in their perception of the world. Does this make them racist, or just highly aware of their catness?

    My cats rule the dogs in the house which is telling. I do have one all-black cat, Isabel. Miz Izz takes no shit from no one. Miz Izz is 14 years old and all of 5#, but she smacks Sheena (the 75# mentally challenged Husky mix) across the face and sends her packing. Isabel rules.

    The HK KKK picture cracks me up. I have more HK stuff than any adult female should ever have, FYI.

  6. There weren’t any cats in my extended family growing up, but there were some racists. They’re all dead now, but we still don’t have a cat. I’m allergic to cats (black, white and other), and to racists (black, white and other), so I suppose it all evens out in the end.

  7. This isn’t as bad as when I named my dog “The Fuhrer”.

  8. tomsimard says:

    Leave it to me to miss a hard-hitting Newsweek cover story like that.

  9. whiteladyinthehood says:

    I think ‘spook’ is a cute name for a black cat and not racist at all – there was no mean intent behind it…I had a black cat named Lucky. (My neighbors shot him in the head with a metal bb gun….not so lucky…he lived…that was lucky..the vet bills almost bankrupted me…not lucky…then he escaped one day from the house and was never seen again…I guess his luck finally ran out)

  10. Marks Dorcel says:

    This white/black cat is looking very awesome. She is very beautiful and too nice. When I have watch first her then she is sited as like statue.

  11. renxkyoko says:

    Aaarck ! First time I heard Spook is a racist term….. sheeeesh.

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