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Who Dey?

November 9, 2009 - Jennifer Houtman
I got a call this morning from a Marietta Times reader about our lead headline on the story about the Bengals win over the Ravens. She wondered about our use of the term, 'dey.'

At first I thought maybe she doesn't follow football and doesn't realize it comes from Bengals fans' popular chant, "Who dey! Who dey! Who dey think gonna beat dem Bengals?' According to Wikipedia, the fans sometimes just yell 'Who dey!' rather than shout the entire cheer. They've even named the team mascot, their Bengal tiger, 'Who dey.'

I soon realized it wasn't that she didn't understand the term, she just didn't approve. Her exact words, "This is how black people speak, and I don't appreciate the newspaper stooping to that level."

Every so often, I get a call like this that reminds me racism is alive and well in the Mid-Ohio valley. The caller certainly got my blood boiling, but in the end, I'm glad she made the call. It's a good reminder to me that we must try to educate others in an effort to eradicate racism for good. We must encourage others to embrace all people and all cultures as equal.

The woman who called is right, in that the term 'Who dey' has its roots in African American culture - Wikipedia explains that another phrase, 'Who dat' got its start in minstrel shows and jazz music in New Orleans, and became a cheer later adopted by the New Orleans Saints football team.

The origins of the phrase make it that much more interesting. In no way does it make the phrase bad or inappropriate. It's a combination of two rich and vibrant cultures millions of Americans enjoy every day - that of American football and that of American jazz. What's not to love?


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