Brownies: Mental Retardation and Term Caucasian Chihuahuas

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5. The use of the word Caucasian in the story “Brownies” is first used when the Brownie Troop first saw the Caucasians in Brownie Troop 909. Having these African-American girls see other white folk was extremely rare, therefore filling them up with rage and envy. One of the girls, Arnetta, pointed out that the girls from Troop 909 smelled of “wet Chihuahuas” and later coined the term “Caucasian Chihuahuas” (357, Meyer). That line it itself made the Brownie Troop go wild and later use it for any situation; everything was Caucasian. They would shout things like: “What are you? Caucasian?” or “That was so Caucasian!” (358, Meyer). The use of the word nigger in this story is used in a much different context. On page 358, Octavia told the troop in the beginning that nobody should call them niggers. Then what happens? The word was used. While Arnetta points out that one of the Caucasian girls called Daphne a nigger, they do not realize yet that Troop 909 has some sort of mental retardation. While the girls plan their revenge against Troop 909, they decide the best idea would be to teach them their lesson in the bathroom while they were all alone. As Arnetta and Octavia confront the Caucasian girls first, they realize something is different with them—coming to the conclusion that they think they are retarded. The 909 troop leader appeared into the bathroom only minutes after the incident, following Mrs. Margolin, who became increasingly upset after hearing the news and demanded that her girls apologize. The Troop 909 leader calmly explained to Mrs. Margolin that “It could have happened. See. Our girls are not retarded. They are delayed learners….Some of our girls are echolaic…..I mean, not all of them have the most progressive parents, so if they heard a bad word they might have repeated it. But I guarantee it would not have been intentional.” The irony in this is that the Brownie Troop knew that they were mocking the Caucasians even as they first showed up on the bus....
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