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Old 21 July 2014, 02:30 AM
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Icon401 Brown bags

Comment: My wife, who works at the National Geospatial Agency, just
informed me that they got a memo today saying that they can't use the term
‘brown bag’ to refer to working meetings while having lunch.

The memo said that the term ‘brown bag’ is offensive because brown bags
were used to determine if a person's skin color was light enough to allow
admission to an event.

I tried to look this up, but all I can find is an article about how the
Seattle city government banned use of ‘brown bag’ from official use for
just this reason:

http://redalertpolitics.com/2013/08/...-official-use/

This just sounds too stupid to me.

My questions are:

1) Were brown bags used to determine if people’s skin color was light
enough to allow admission to an event?

2) Is this the origin to the term 'Brown Bag Lunch', i.e. originally these
were lunches that only white people can attend ... as opposed to the name
originating from the fact people attending these meeting bring their
lunches in brown paper bags?
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  #2  
Old 21 July 2014, 02:52 AM
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"Meanwhile, sacrifices of a more somber nature were lamented recently at The Neighborhood Gallery Theater. Kim Layman directed her own script Brown Paper Bag, an investigation of "reverse discrimination within the black classes of New Orleans."

The brown bag referred to is the infamous skin-color test that determined if a person's hue was light enough for black Creole society." from http://www.bestofneworleans.com/gamb...nt?oid=1243575

This was a common knowledge thing in New Orleans but, like many other things, I never heard of it anywhere else. It was usually called a Schwegmann bag test after the NOLA grocery.

That said, that is NOT what 'brown bag lunch' has ever meant, and IMHO it is totally ridiculous to ban the expression.
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Old 21 July 2014, 03:19 AM
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Yeah, I've heard of the brown bag test, and I don't think it's a UL, (though I also wouldn't take it too literally) and I know what brown bag lunches are, and the terms are unrelated except that they both involve brown paper grocery-type bags. I think the context i heard about the test in was in connection with Harlem high society.

FTR, I don't think (though I could be wrong) that people literally held up a bag to someone's skin to make a comparison* My guess is that it was a figure of speech, as in:

"Should we invite Elizabeth to the dinner party?"
"No, she doesn't pass the brown bag test."

* I am sure that people held bags up to their own skin to check. I'm sure I've read that in a memoir, but I can't recall which one.
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Old 21 July 2014, 03:35 AM
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I found the Wikipedia on it :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_bag_party

I recall then Mayor 'Dutch' Morial talking about this but really? A person at the door with a grocery bag? Again in early New Orleans you had octaroons lording it over quadroons. Who knows what was possible?

I totally agree with erwins take on it.
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Old 21 July 2014, 11:13 AM
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From a review of a book on the subject:
Quote:
While specific discriminatory policies such as the use of paper bags or combs to test skin color and hair texture cannot be verified, stories about such procedures can. Kerr's interviews, primarily with longtime residents of Washington who attended Howard University, demonstrate that although most of the institutions she discusses may never have had specific membership criteria based on physical features, they did not need to. It was known who was welcome and who was not based on the visible evidence of their membership and on stories about admission. For example, while it is apparently true (based on the testimony of a Howard admissions officer) that Howard once required applicants to include a photo with their application, it is rumor that such photos were used to make admissions decisions. According to some of Kerr's interview subjects, this rumor and similar ones about Washington's Dunbar High School were enough to prevent them from applying to these schools in the first place. Through the sharing of rumors and legends about exclusivity based on color, intraracial segregation has, therefore, been constructed and maintained even by those who have not benefited from discrimination.
http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=13464
Reviewing: Kerr, A. E. (2006). The paper bag principle: Class, colorism, and rumor in the case of black Washington, DC. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1572334622
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Old 21 July 2014, 11:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snopes View Post
Comment: ... working meetings while having lunch.
AKA working during your time off and for no pay.
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