Thursday, August 5, 2010

Debunking the Alleged Origin of the Word "Coonass"

Note: See also my new blog article on this topic, titled More on That Word "Coonass": A Labor Dispute Trial Documents Its Use in 1940.

The thing I enjoy most about being a historian is the detective work — piecing together clues in search of historical facts. And sometimes that search results in the debunking of myths.

Take the alleged etymology (that is, word origin) of the term coonass, an ethnic label that some use as a synonym for Cajun. It's a controversial word because while many Cajuns embrace the term and regard it as a badge of ethnic pride, other Cajuns consider it highly offensive.

A novelty "Registered Coonass" sticker.
This etymology goes as follows: During World War II native Frenchmen inexplicably derided their Cajun GI liberators as conasses, a standard French word meaning "stupid person" or "dirty prostitute." Anglo-American GIs overheard this slur, misunderstood it as coonass, and used it in reference to Cajun GIs. After the war, the term came to be applied to Cajuns in general.

This alleged etymology is well-known and is still cited on occasion as authoritative. It appears to have been thought up in the early 1970s by the late cultural activist, politician, and attorney James "Jimmy" Domengeaux (1907-1988). (His surname is pronounced in the French manner as DUH-MAZH-ZHEE-O, much like the surname of baseball great Joe DiMaggio.)* As head of the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL), Domengeaux railed against the term's use, including its use by then-Governor Edwin W. Edwards in jovial reference to himself.

Jimmy Domengeaux in 1968.
(Source: La Louisiane [documentary], INA.fr)

Even if Domengeaux himself did not concoct this etymology, he certainly did more than anyone else to popularize it. In fact, the Louisiana state legislature condemned the use of coonass in 1981 not because the word referred to a raccoon's posterior, but because, as Domengeaux claimed, it supposedly hailed from the French slur conasse.

Excerpt from a 1981 resolution
condemning the word coonass.
(Source: Louisiana State Legislature)

I myself had always assumed that a blue-ribbon panel of university-trained linguists must have formulated the conasse explanation. I was therefore surprised to learn that it was merely one man's hypothesis. (Someone who had not taken Domengeaux’s etymology at face value was Cajun scholar Barry Jean Ancelet of the University of Southwestern Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Ancelet rejected Domengeaux's notion as "shaky linguistics at best.")

It was quite by accident, however, that I ended up debunking Domengeaux's popular conasse etymology.

In the late 1990s I was searching the online database of the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration for anything having to do with the Nike-Cajun rocket. The U.S. military invented the Nike-Cajun in the 1950s as a sounding rocket for testing the atmosphere. But why, I wondered, had it been called the Nike-Cajun rocket? The name evoked a strange combination of ancient Greek mythology and rural south Louisiana folklife.

A Nike-Cajun rocket.
(Source: National Archives and Records Administration) 

I'll explain the origin of the Nike-Cajun in a later posting (see my article "The Nike-Cajun Rocket: How It Got Its Name") — but it was while researching this rocket that I stumbled across a reference to World War II stock footage depicting something called the Cajun Coonass.

What in the world was that? I wondered. As it turned out, the Cajun Coonass was the nickname of a U.S. warplane. In fact, the National Archives had a photograph of the airplane shot by the Army Signal Corps in April 1943.

The date’s significance took a few seconds to register. "That's over a year before D-Day.”

In other words, it was over a year before there were any Cajuns in France to be called conasse, the word that supposedly morphed into coonass: Domengeaux’s etymology was wrong.

Ordering a print of the photograph, I found that it did indeed show a U.S. airplane, specifically a C-47, sporting the word coonass on its fuselage — juxtaposed (some would say redundantly) with the word Cajun.

According to Army Signal Corps data on the back of the original print, the image was made not only over a year before the Allied invasion of France, but halfway around the world, in the South Pacific. (The plane's pilot, I should explain, was a Cajun from Sunset, Louisiana, and thus he had the privilege of naming the plane. It's therefore interesting that he chose the word coonass.)

1943 photograph of the C-47 Cajun Coonass (with enlarged inset).
(Source: National Archives and Records Administration)

Granted, Cajun GIs could have been called conasse as early as 1942, when U.S. troops went up against Vichy French forces in North Africa; or even during World War I, when U.S. doughboys served in France. But Domengeaux had not made these claims, nor had the Louisiana state legislature made them in its concurrent resolution condemning coonass. In fact, the resolution stated, "[S]ince World War II, certain persons commenced using the word 'coonass' in referring to an Acadian (Cajun)" because "[T]he word . . . originated when French-speaking Louisiana soldiers stationed in France were often called by native French soldiers as 'conasse.' . . ."

My own feeling is that coonass originated much closer to "home," that is, in the Acadiana region of south Louisiana or right across the border in east Texas, where Cajun culture mingled with the WASP-ish Bible-belt culture of the Lone Star State. This is mere speculation on my part, however, and for now the term's origin remains a mystery.

But thanks to this serendipitous discovery of the Cajun Coonass photograph in the National Archives, I now know the term did not arise as Domengeaux claimed in his conasse theory.

Some activists have expressed concern that debunking the conasse theory might set back the effort to stamp out coonass. My opinion is that the disproved conasse theory isn’t needed to stamp out the word: it should suffice to say, if one is so inclined, “I don’t want to be referred to as the backside of a raccoon!”

For more information on the word coonass and its colorful history, see my book The Cajuns: Americanization of a People (2003), pp. 8, 15, 96-97, 109, 138, 142.


Cover of my book
The Cajuns: Americanization of a People (2003)

Addendum of 13 March 2012

Here is World War II stock motion picture footage from the National Archives and Records Administration showing the Cajun Coonass and its crew. The pilot, Lt. Albert Burleigh, hailed from Sunset, Louisiana; he is shown first in line among the crew and is wearing an officer's cap. Like the above still photo (apparently taken at the same time), this film was shot in April 1943 at the Port Moresby airfield in Papua New Guinea.



(Source: National Archives and Records Administration)


A note on selected source material:

The original Cajun Coonass still photograph is in the National Archives and Records Administration and is photograph #342-FH-3A-32507-79171a.c. It is dated "April, 1943" on the back after a typewritten list of the plane's crewmembers; and it is dated "rec'd 7 Jan. 1944" on the front — both dates predating the D-Day arrival of Cajun GIs in France. I obtained photocopies (verso and recto) and a glossy print of this image from the National Archives in 1998.

Data from the front (verso) and back (recto)
of the Cajun Coonass still photograph
establishing when and where the image was taken.
(Click to enlarge.)

The Cajun Coonass motion picture footage also comes from the National Archives and is film NWDNM(m)-342-USAF-12835-1 (reel #2) or NWDNM(m)-342-USAF-19392 (reel #4), both reels being supplied to me by the National Archives in 1999 on a single VHS tape.

________

*This pronunciation is confirmed by the website of Domengeaux's own former law firm, which states "Our law firm was established in Lafayette in 1957 by attorney James R. 'Jimmy' Domengeaux (pronounced like DiMaggio). . . ." Source: Domengeaux, Wright, Roy & Edwards website, http://www.wrightroy.com/Firm-Overview/, accessed 17 February 2013.

50 comments:

  1. When I heard this derivation of coonass, it was presented as having been brought from France in WWI rather than WWII -- somewhere in the past annals of Acadiana on the internet.

    FWIW My grandfather fought in France in WWI, and he was always proud of having been able to speak easily with the French he met. He never spoke about any abuse or antipathy from French or Americans.

    I think it's a big mistake to try and banish "coonass". It's no more a reference to the rear of a raccoon than "cajun" is a reference to being detained in a cage. The big deal is that if it's a sensitive word, it's an easy weapon for anybody intending insult to use. If we all call ourselves coonasses, how is that going to hurt? We have always welcomed "coonass" and I think that's a great expression of Cajun character right down the line. Vive le coonass!

    PS thanks for the gumbo recipe!

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    1. I completely agree, and completely enjoyed reading your comment.

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    2. If you want to learn the history of the word "coonass" read Ryan Brasseaux's book Cajun Breakdown.

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    3. I am from Many Louisiana, and I consider myself as a Proud CoonAss( Highland CoonAss). These stupid politically correct people are just idiots. A real CoonAss is 10 times the person as the politically correct idiots. We should have proud CoonAss politicians in office that will stand up to the Politically Correct idiots running Louisiana now. Voters of Louisiana should only vote for Politicians that arent afraid to admit they are CoonAsses, and are born and raised in Good Ole Louisiana.

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  2. I can't tell you how helpful this article is right now. In Lafayette, La. Mr. Warren Perrin, a lawyer and advocate for the Cajun culture, has threatened to file a formal complaint with the FCC against Eunice, La. radio station KBON 101.1 for continuing to play "Registered Coonass" by Jamie Bergeron & The Kickin' Cajuns. He claims it is extremely offensive to Cajuns and wants the song and the use of the word in the media to be stopped.. He references the WW2 story as the origin of the word and said on local news (KATCTV3) that the most accepted definition is a 'diseased prostitute'..
    I found this article and was able to post it on my FB page. Paula from KBON reposted the article.. This will give them information rooted in fact that will hopefully help them defend their viewpoint. (If Mr. Perrin follows through with his threats)
    I am of the opinion that it doesn't matter what it used to mean; the word has been embraced by many and thus the meaning of the word has evolved in the 70+ yrs since the 1940's. To those who claim to be a Proud or Registered Coonass today it means being a strong people who are survivors that are self-sufficient, hardworking, hard loving, generous, laid back, proud yet humble, welcoming and grateful; just to name a few.. It represents a way of life as much as a single person or group of people and includes more than just the Southern Louisiana Cajun.
    Anyway, it will always be a personal decision based on individual experiences and upbringing.. I just wanted to take a minute to say THANK YOU for your research. It has helped me explain it on my FB page and hopefully will help to defend our ability to label 'ourselves', as WE see fit, to express our beliefs.. Much appreciation..

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  3. Well researched. Now send a copy to that trouble making lawyer and have him shove it. He needs to tell Jamie he's sorry for causing him such grief. Poor Poor Jamie, he doesnt need that kind of crap neighter does his fans. He hasnt put out a really good joke since this happened, except Trouble, that was funny. The only good thing is that Jamie is getting nation wide attenion and I have friends from all over to want to hear the song. We love you Jamie and we will stand up with you.

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  4. in growing up back then, my mom and family ate coons, they were called coon-asses, they were bought up as cajuns, i called myself coon-ass. i have no shame in my game. i never knew the word coon-ass would offend anyone

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  5. Your research is skewed, this word originated long before WWII.
    Both of my French-speaking Cajun great-grandfathers served in WWI in France. They said the French soldiers and populace referred to the Cajun GI’s as “connasse” and a fight always ensued, which the Cajuns almost always won. To the day my great-grandfathers died, if they heard someone using the word coonass or connasse, they were ready to fight. I believe we all should be ready to fight as there is nothing cute about this derogatory word.


    Coonass – Anglicized version of a Parisian slang insult. There is no association of this term with the anatomy of a furry little creature. It stems from a Parisian derogatory slang term, connasse (cone-nahs), for the Acadians deported by the British to France in 1758-1759 after the New World concentration camps were full. Acadians were frontiersmen and did not know how to function in Europe. By the end of 1785, most of those Acadians and their descendants had left France. The most notable exodus was "The Seven Acadian Expeditions of 1785" to Louisiana. It was financed by Spain to increase the Louisiana population (by over 1500). The original meaning of the Parisian slang term, connasse, was something like "an unwashed prostitute who had skipped her monthly health inspection.”
    http://lagenealogy.net/Terms.aspx

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    1. I think your explanation is the most accurate. My family has despised the word "coon-ass" for several generations. Now that I know it was used when we were kicked out of Acadia it makes more sense.
      Thanks!

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    2. Thanks for your note: As I observe in my above article, "Cajuns GIs could have been called conasse . . . even during World War I, when U.S. doughboys served in France. But Domengeaux had not made [this claim], nor had the Louisiana state legislature made [it] in its concurrent resolution condemning coonass."

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    3. So you don't believe the true origin of the word because the Louisiana Legislature doesn't say so?

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    4. Well, the state legislature's explanation states that "coonass" came from French-speaking Louisiana GIs being stationed in France during World War II.

      Because the C-47 "Cajun Coonass" airplane image I found predates the arrival of Cajuns in France during World War II (by over a year), the origin as put forward by the legislature cannot be true.

      Perhaps "coonass" came out of Cajuns encountering French natives in North Africa earlier in World War II, or perhaps the word came out of World War I . . . but that's not what the legislature's explanation stated.

      In an event, I don't think anyone really knows where the word came from, and we may never know, unless more evidence is found. To me, the issue of the word's origin is completely up in the air.

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    5. The French word connasse is a freaking word. The word was not invented during world war ll, it is a French word that goes back many centuries like the word idiot.. And this is idiotic to argue where this word comes from. It is a derogatory word that the French in France called us from Louisiana and it goes way back before the second world war.. You want to argue this because the Louisiana legislature fails to say so? Geez. So what, that still doesn't take away from the truth.. I am not a dirty prostitute or stupid person. My family going back 100 years hated being called coonass just like nigger is a hated word. Why wouldn't we? We know coonass is a dirty derogatory word and maybe the people of France was right, they are a stupid person. Only a stupid person would be proud to be called one... Geez...

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    6. Indeed, don't call me a coonass....

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  6. As a non-cajun, maybe I shouldn't put my 2 cents in, but maybe you should do like Americans did when the british called us "yankee doodles" and made up a song. Take it and make it your own. You can't be insulted by a word unless you give it the power to insult you. We have the same thing here in Georgia over the word "Cracker." Is it an insult to be called a "Georgia Cracker?" Some might try to use it to insult me, but I would just say, "yeah, whats it to you?" Trying to stamp it out with legal action is about the stupidest thing I could imagine. It just makes more people say it.

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  7. Thank all of you for leaving your postings on my blog.

    I should point out that I myself am not an activist, but a historian, and so I do not take sides on the "coonass" issue. Rather, I'm solely interested in researching the history of the term and in observing how others have reacted to it over time.

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  8. One more note: I have some World War II motion picture footage of the "Cajun Coonass" airplane and its crew. I plan to post this footage on my blog (as an addendum to the above article) in a few days, so please check back to view it.

    The importance of this motion picture footage is that it was shot in the Pacific in spring 1943 -- over a year before there were any Cajuns in France to be called "conasse" (as the theory goes). It therefore calls into question the "conasse" theory.

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    1. Connasse (note the correct spelling) started when we were kicked out of Acadie and sent back to France. Read the article above...

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    2. "Connasse" and "conasse" are both acceptable spellings according to the Larousse dictionary.

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  9. Hello Shane,
    My friend Ricky Rees pointed me to your blog, very interesting! I'll put a link on my own blog (in German) at http://lagniappestudies.blogspot.com/
    It's mostly on New Orleans, but not only.

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  10. Love the posts... makes me miss home.

    Hey - we can vay-yay Boudreaux and Thibodaux bout' what dey tink! Dat Clautille can put up her two cents as well... den we can write a book all abaut da word. Coo-yôn!

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    1. not a cajun but have many friends over the years that are...and i love Boudreaux and Thibodaux..have a nephew that had black lab puppies that he named after them lol. not getting into the coonass thing...some like it some dont..me i'm an Indian...not a Native American lol..and if u notice that last sentence u can see i talk like them

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  11. One of true Cajun(Acadian) ancestry,couldn't in good concience,call themselves "coonass" in the same breath with respect for their ancesters & all they endured to have provided us with this unique & rich culture(like none other)that we enjoy & "some " of us strive to carry on. These,can in no way shape or form....convince me that they have an ounce of respect for their culture "OR" their ancestors. That's just my opinion. And furthermore"just for the record"...don't ever doubt what I think about being called one....just saying....but you are welcome to degrade yourself & your ancestors,much as yoou want to.
    Thank you Shane for your work.

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    1. I'm a proud coonass! And I am also very proud of my ancestry. Most Cajuns usually have a great sense of humor and don't mind calling themselves this nickname.

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  12. Shane, thank you for posting this. I enjoyed reading your post and the comments. I'm from New Iberia but not a Cajun. As a child I remember being told by my grandparents that conass was a derogatory term for Cajun and I’ve always wondered what the origin of the term was…
    I love the name of your blog too! The Bayou Teche was in my back yard as a child; I miss it.

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  13. One thing about being Cajun that has always made me proud is that we, as a people, take words that others have used to put us down and embrace them. There was a time when the word Cajun was derogatory. We took it, embraced it, and made it ours. We stole the power of the word away from those that would put us down. We did it again with Coonass and that proves to me that the Cajun people will always thrive because we are a lot smarter then people think.

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  14. What I find odd is no one ever addresses the fact that a lot of the people that like to sling the word around are former dilettante Creoles. It's really odd how many people became ~lowly~ genocide surviving Cajuns once the move was made to identify those of not only French and Spanish decent, but also African decent as Creoles. All of a sudden a lot of people abandoned one identity for another. Former slave owner decedents certainly didn't want to share a cultural and ethnic heritage with their former slaves. All of a sudden being Cajun wasn't so bad.

    So was the word really adopted and embraced by Acadians who made it to Louisiana OR is it that people can't tell who came straight from France to make their home in Louisiana (Creoles) compared with those who came from France via Canada to Louisiana (Cajuns)?

    Furthermore, it's in no way a word that used to be used as a put down. It is very much a word that is currently used as a derogatory term. Just listen close enough and I'm sure you'll hear all about those stupid/dumb "coonasses". And now thanks to the term being popularized you'll hear it used in pretty much the same way everywhere without any restraint or embarrassment. Does it bother most of us? Yes, no, maybe.

    On another note, I find it peculiar that you would debunk the current explanation of the origin of the word and so easily dismiss Theriot (genuinely dismayed). It may not correspond with your feelings about the words etymology ("My own feeling is that...."), but it is something to consider since you don't know the origin of the word ("To me, the issue of the word's origin is completely up in the air.").

    Furthermore, offering the Louisiana Legislature as an authority on anything to people currently living is laughable. Mostly because it is an imperfect authority on almost everything. Maybe looking back in the annals of history people will esteem the legislature as the definitive expert on the etymology of Cajun terms, but regurgitating a (now) flawed explanation offered by CODOFIL via the legislature without any alternative on the origin is frustrating to say the least. Are you not interested in discovering the origin? Was it game over once you debunked the most currently accepted explanation?

    Happy almost 1 yr anniversary on this post! You win a comment.

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  15. Sticks and stones......but Louisiana is my home! Ya'll make me proud like Johnny Janot!

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    1. I bet I can find 2 more conasses who like the name and are proud of their heritage and nickname, for any one of the so called coonasses wqho are not proud of their heritage.

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  16. I heard a long time ago that the TEXAS oil men gave Cajuns the title when the moved into the waters the Cajuns were shrimping and fishing.

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  17. I am a 73 year old Coonass, Cajun, Kajan, I am proud of my heritage and will kick the ass of anyone who insults it, as I am sure most of you would ftom what I have just read Lach pa la potat.

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  18. I am honestly amazed anyone finds it *actually* offensive. We have taken it as a badge of honor. I never once was offended by it. One of the great things about being a Cajun is we can laugh at ourselves. Yes...the jokes (told by us!) often talk about (insert name) being a 'stupid Coonass' and doing something , well, stupid. And we laugh, because 1) we know it's partially true and 2) it's part of our culture. We CAN laugh at ourselves. We DO laugh at ourselves.

    But again, are some of these people who are offended at the word 'Coonass' also the ones still angry that we had to leave Canada?! Must we always be offended!

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  19. Dear Shane: Have you ever heard the term "Jacky Tar"? That is what francopones in western Newfoundland were called by their anglophone Newfoundland neighbours. What would be the origin of that term I wonder. It, too, is offensive although to my Mainland (Ontario) ear really conveys nothing offensive. My father's father's father born in 1815 was French-Canadian from Quebec, but had his family in northern New Brunswick.

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  20. Thanks for this information. I see that "Jack Tar" was a nautical term for any sailor in the British navy (and later US sailors). See https://www.mun.ca/mha/mlc/articles/introducing-merchant-seafaring/jack-tar.php

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  21. Hi Shane
    I’m Scottish and though I have no family connections, I am a Cajun-phile. I’ve been thinking about the word coonass over the last few days. I’ve read previously that it originated 1) a slur based on an African-American slur or 2) a raccoon hat worn by cajun hunters or 3) a French slur on Cajun soldiers in WW1 or 2 or 4) East Texas veteran oilmen slur on unskilled Cajun oil-workers. My thoughts 1) no – too lame – a racial slur would have been worse no doubt 2) no – plenty mountain-men, including Davy Crockett wore them and weren’t called coonass 3) no – why would the French do that ? I think Cajuns were spread out among various units and not noticeable in groups – eg in WW1 The 39th Div (including Louisiana National Guard) was based in LA and only went to France 3 months before the Armistice – many Cajuns were already elsewhere and in WW2 their successors, the 31st Dixie Div fought in the Pacific 4) could be this – know-it all Texas oilmen looking down on Cajun oil-labourers. The word had to come from Cajun French though and conasse, con and connerie all are bad swear words, one meaning being the equivalent to the English curse “c*nt” for a person. I suggest another 2 possibilities 5) perhaps Union occupation troops in Louisiana during and after the Civil War and 7) perhaps fellow English-speaking Louisianians who looked down on French-speakers, especially after “English language only” was enforced in the Louisiana schools in the 1920’s. Maybe some non-Cajuns picked on them, bullied kids etc who could only speak a banned, ‘inferior’ tongue and bullied them with an exaggerated slur based on “conasse” ? Regards - Lachlan

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  22. Being 79 and living in Texas my entire life from San Antonio to SE Texas, Married to the same Beautiful Wife for almost 59 years, being Registered Professional Engineer in Texas for 52 plus years, employing 50 plus Roughnecks, over 2500 in one company of which I was President, forming a Mexican Corporation with ICA of Mexico City, still working full time, I never found time to worry about names that had so many variations of questionable birth. "Coonass" or really "Cajun Conass" was a term of endearment to hard working Oil Rig Hands employed by me over many years. My source was impeccable a.k.a. Justin E. Wilson, a good friend and a forever source of good humor with no malice ever intended. With his passing in 2001, the Creole-Arcadian-Cajun-Coonas-Coonasse- Persons of Hard Wook, Great Humor, and Wonderful Self-Epitomizing the Good Humor of the Bayou Workers and Good Timers. QED.

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  23. Well all I have to say is I'm a real French Cajun from Deep South Louisiana so south in fact a few steps out the back door to the house you will have wet feet and be in the bayou or in the Gulf of Mexico and since the day I was born we have been called coonass and I'm here to tell each and everyone of you anyone who is of true Cajun decent is proud to be a coonass, now anyone who ain't and the one who are offended by it or people from north Louisiana which is not Acadiana or Cajun Territory and Yankees who transplanted their selves here and claim to be Cajuns because they now live Here in Louisiana Claim they are Cajuns and they alone are the ones who feel offended by the term coonass also if you can't post under your real name and only as anonymous you have no validity to me because unlike you I post with my real French Cajun name one of the first families to settle here in south Louisiana trace back my name if you wish it has different spelling because of English priest doing the birth records but I have no shame in who I am I even have a family member when under British rule lead the invasion from Canada that burned down the White House in the battle of 1812 I will end in I don't care what you are anyone else thinks about us as Cajuns or coonass we are a proud people us true Cajuns not you fake transplanted want to be Cajuns

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  24. I am a Cajun from southern Louisiana. All my older relatives spoke French. To them connasse/coonass would have been very offensive. I have now lived in France more than 20 years and I believe that it's obvious that coonass comes from connasse, probably because French-speaking Cajuns used it a lot as an expletive. World War I was a time of ethnic mixing and other Louisianans might have come to think of connasse as Cajun, just as the French in the Hundred Years War called the British goddams.

    Connasse is still vulgar and offensive in French today. It's a ruder version of con which is a crude insult. I don't think any Cajun who actually speaks French would think it's an acceptable name for Cajuns.

    http://www.wordreference.com/enfr/con <-- con means just what you think it might.

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  25. I thought it was derived from the old French slang Kunasse for "the lower working class". Obviously I should have vetted that information more.

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  26. Shane I remember an old man in Lafayette named Floyd Randolph who was stationed in the Pacific Theater with the P-38 outfit that took out Yammaoto saying he recalled a plane with the name Ragin' Cajun. He is gone now but I now wonder if perhaps the plane he remembers was the Cajun Coonass. He was not a pilot but a member of the ground crew.

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  27. Carl, Thanks for this info: I'll keep an eye open for a P-38 of that name!

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  28. The term is a reference to the racoon hats that the cajun trappers used to wear.

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  29. Just a small point of grammar. Connasse is feminine in French. The term for a male is connard or simply con

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  30. It is easy to see how coonass became what it is..no matter it's origin. If it did,in fact, refer to a dirty prostitute then being called such by the French would have been quite a laugh by the self sufficient, rough and ready Acadians...France was usually the one in the position of being treated like an ill used prostitute ( in both wars).In reference to an actual raccoon, very few other creatures have been so detested and admired at the same time We have a history of using them for food, clothing, and companionship (they're smarter than house cats and don't get stuck up trees). Most coonass I know would be unaffected by PCing such a term simply because they aren't going to bother going around people who have to figure out if it's an offensive term or not. If you really want to offend a Cajun it's more dangerous to insult his dog or his boat than call him names.

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    1. Bingo! You hit the nail on the head. We are proud of it no matter the origin. Those thinking it's an insult or that we should be insulted by it are not my people. My 2 remaining uncles still speak Cajun French and never have been offended by the term so to me the origin is irrelevant. I'm proud to be a half ass Coonass (my mom is a Yankee and my Dad was 100% Cajun) and there's no denying that many others are as well.

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  31. My uncle insisted on being referred to as coonass, not cajun.

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  32. People who are offended by words are weak of mind and weak of backbone.

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  33. I was told this by my mother during the late 60's,
    During history class a fellow student raises his hand and states, 'people in Northern Louisiana hate us'
    We asked why?
    Teachers said,'go home and ask your parents'
    This is what my mother said.
    When we voted for civil rights.
    Northern Louisiana voted against it.
    South Louisiana (especially south of Alexandria) voted for it.
    That's when Northern Louisiana started calling people from Southern Louisiana coon-asses for selling out the white race. As a child that had a profound effect on me. That somebody who doesn't even know me hates me. So to this day I cannot hate someone I do not know.
    Late 70's I worked in the oilfield with a man from Monroe. I asked about do they still hate us? He said 'yes'.
    As recently as 97, I was thrown out of a gas station in Shreveport for being from Morgan City.
    10 years ago a co-woker's boyfriend and I were discussing my Coonassness. Him being from Shreveport and 20 years younger had never heard of this before.
    We live in Dallas Tx.. He was going home for the weekend and was going to ask around.
    He came back with a confused look.
    He said. 'The younger people of Shreveport knew nothing of this. But the white people close to my age of 56 and older HATE people south of Alexandria.(THIS IS WHAT REALLY CONFUSED HIM) And that they were OK with him being black but they really hate people from south of Alexandria'

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