Why Is the Word ‘Coon’ So Offensive to African-Americans’?
You learn as a child that 'Sticks & Stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me'. It was a good tool to use back in the day, especially for Black parents to teach their children. It was a valuable lying lesson that could virtually save their child's life, because during slavery, and the highly oppressive years, if you were called a 'coon' or the 'N' word and you reacted in a manner such that you wanted to challenge the person addressing you, you'd end up hanging from a tree, castrated, bullwhipped or tortured in some other form or fashion. I say it was a lie because it was. Being called the N-Word is hurtful and being called a Coon was even more-so. But why is Coon so much worse than the N-Word?
Before we examine the word 'Coon', there's a similar but different word; the N-Word. The N-Word is used as a term of endearment among some Blacks but taboo if uttered by a White person. The N-Word is a general term that Racists have been known to use as a reference to Black people. The word Coon, on the other hand, has imagery associated with it. 'Coon' carries with it a specific definition and description ... as a matter of fact, the Black Community within itself has a definition of Coon which differs from the definition Caucasians have traditionally had for the word. Black people consider a 'Coon' to be a 'White Folks N-Word, and 'Uncle Tom', someone who Brown-Noses a white person. However, the word 'Coon', relative to its original meaning, identified a stereotypically lazy & slovenly, watermelon eating, or singing & dancing Black Person who has specific physical features such as Big Protruding Lips, Dark-Skin, speaks in broken English, and is smiling ear to ear. White people dressed up as coons frequently...and some still do, calling the practice 'Black Face'.
The most famous COON has to be 'Steppin Fetchit'. Here's an example ... as I told you, Blacks in general were ( and still are) referred to as N-Words, while not every N-Word is considered a Coon. Coon caricatures used to pop up everywhere back in the Jim Crow days.
So back to the original question as to Why Is the Word 'Coon' So Offensive to African-Americans'? The answer is hopefully obvious now and explains the uproar that transpired in Rochester, NY recently as a Meteorologist, according to the culprit himself, uttered the word 'Coon' mistakingly, while saying Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's name. Coon is probably the most offensive word associated with Black people ... for the reasons explained in this post.