I just watch Men in Black 3 in which a policeman said to a Cop Negro as two policemen had the car pulled in and asked the man "particular ethnic persuasion". I got no meaning of the phrase. Could you mind explaining to me?
thank you so much!
Last edited by Chicken Sandwich; 21-Oct-2012 at 15:11.
The phrase "ethnic persuasion" in itself makes no sense. A person's ethnicity is not a matter of choice, it is matter simply of their birth. "Persuasion" suggests that there has been some choice in it. The whole phrase in the film is used somewhat sarcastically.
Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
Hello,Here in the United States of America, people are very careful not to say anything that may hurt another person's
feelings about race, religion, love life, etc.
So some people use the word "persuasion" because they (a) want to be gentle and kind, or (b) they are being sarcastic.
That is, they know that if they ask a direct question ("What is your race?"), that may offend some people. Those two
cops (I am guessing) had been ordered not to ask such a rude question. So they were probably being sarcastic when they
might have said, "Excuse me, sir, what is your ethnic persuasion?" (The "sir" is also often used in a sarcastic manner. They
might like to use some other word, but they know that they would get into big trouble.)
In plain English, if someone asks you what your ethnic persuasion is, he wants to know what your race is.
Some people do not want to mention the words "race" or "ethnic," so they just say, "What is your background?"
As Chicken Sandwich told you, Americans no longer use the word that you used in your post. This stopped in the
1960's. Until then, it was not an offensive term. Whenever you speak or write English, never use it.
In MIB III, there is time travel back a few decades to a time when "Negro" was used. It's not so much horribly offensive (and doesn't need the *** treatment the way another "N-word" does) as extremely dated. Because the main character is black, the movie made a few points about the changes in race relations. I don't remember that scene, actually, so I can't help you more, but knowing the context may allay others' concerns. Please do follow the advice you have been given and don't use this term.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
[after J steals a car from a rich white guy and makes his way to Coney Island, he gets pulled over by two white cops]
Agent J: How are you officers? What can I do you for?
[the cops ignore J]
1969 NYPD Cop #1: Well, look at this. Power windows, powers seats. I'll bet you the thing costs six grand.
Agent J: Uh...yes, and it has a roof, but it's hidden.
1969 NYPD Cop #2: Hey, what kind of work do you do? An individual of your particular ethnic persuasion?
Agent J: Mm.
1969 NYPD Cop #1: Maybe he's a noted athlete.
Agent J: Mm. Yes, uh...starting forward for the Detroit Darkies.
1969 NYPD Cop #1: Where did you get the car?
1969 NYPD Cop #2: And the suit?
Agent J: I stole them, both. Uh...car from your wife, the suit from your grandmother.
Men in Black 3 Quotes - 'Is there anybody here who is not an alien?'
This dialogue is specifically to point out the racial bias of the police officers. They may as well have said "How can a black guy, who everyone knows* is shiftless, unskilled, and not deserving of good things, possibly afford this expensive car and this nice suit? You must have stolen it!"
(The irony, of course, is that he DID steal the car. Fortunately, he has the zappy thing so the cops don't remember this.)
* It should go without saying that this is of course an absurd and wrong stereotype; it was just how these cops acted.