Fact Finding Mission

So, I was reading this Deadspin comment thread and someone from DC, "Unsilent Majority," made a disparaging remark about the historical racism in one of America's greater cities (I won't mention which one). I defended this unmentioned city while taking a small poke at DC's current struggles with racism.

Then, some dude calling himself "Larry Bird Flu" had this to say:

"Anyone hear about the whole uproar about calling Prince George's County "PG County?" That PG is racist? That's ridunkulous."

This is news to me. I did a rudimentary Google/Wikipedia search and came up with nothing. So I turn to you, my faithful readers. Are there people out there who think abbreviating "Prince George's" is racist? If so, why? Any information you have on the subject would be enlightening. I am inclined to believe that such a belief would qualify as ridunkulous, but I'd like to have all the facts before making a final decision.

UPDATE: Ok. A few commenters sent me a link to The Washington Express Blog. They provide the following excerpt taken from The Washington Post:

"Going back at least 30 years, some county politicians have associated use of the abbreviation with disrespect and have worked to discourage it, even as some residents scratch their heads about the connection. The debate is a complex one, fraught with racial and class implications and compounded by sensitivities about where the county fits in among its more affluent suburban neighbors, including Montgomery and Fairfax counties."

I don't really see any claims of racism. It's little more than a public relations move. It's not really ridunkulous, just asinine.


  1. I don't know whether or not there are racial overtones to it; but it is true that people in Prince Georges county hate it when the abbreviation is used. Some of it is probably racial, some of it is probably PR (because of the county's bad image as of late).

  2. Of the many definitions in the Urban "Dick":

    PG = Philipino Girl

    PG = "Pussy Goatee" or "Prison Goatee" - A goatee trimmed to neatly and completely frame the mouth. Popular in prisons - when two cons are engaged in some hot face sex, it gives the visual effect of a woman's vagina and pubic hair.

    Bill's furry black PG made him quite popular in the state prison.

    Well that settles it. Even if PG is an innocent acronym, I will never utter those two letters together ever again even if it is just a "movie rating." There may be something more sinister going on here. Let us in on DC's inside racism.

  3. That is vituperously redoculous!

    --Malachy Malapropism

  4. http://www.readexpress.com/read_freeride/2006/05/name_game_pg_vs_prince_georges_1.php

  5. http://www.readexpress.com/read_freeride/2006/05/

  6. Just talked to a friend of mine from Prince Georges, and he basically said that the county has a bit of a complex, and the abbreviation is closely associated with high crime and poverty. So the leaders over there really don't like it, mainly for PR reasons (but race is always a factor).

  7. lipstick on the pig

  8. It could be interp as "pure ghetto"
    I'm puttin' my money on that one.

  9. Not quite sure why, but this reminds me of the outrage that some had in the wake of 9/11 when people would refer to the day as "9-11" or "9-1-1," as if it was disrespectful to call it anything other than "September eleventh."

  10. Either way, calling PG County "PG County" is definitely a more pressing racial issue than anything that goes on in DC.

  11. This is going to ruin Prince George's County's reputation for tourism.

    I mean, every other weird place is going after tourism income. Beirut was big until just a few weeks ago. Now New Jersey (!) is running ads encouraging people to vacation in the "Garbage State."

    Prince George's needs to come out w/ some iconic p.r. campaign--the P.G. equivalent to "I looooove New York!"

    By the way, I'm vacationing this Christmas in beautiful West Baltimore.

    West Baltimore: Where riots start.

  12. or

    Prince Georges... It's a riot!

  13. "Visit PG County: 40's, Bitches, and Blunts!"

  14. Rusty, here's a Post link that I found that mentions the whole "P.G." thing near the bottom of the article:


  15. we lived for many years in silver spring and managed to leave just when it was getting slightly interesting. it was common for my neighbors and i to say we lived in 'Monkey County' as in the old 'Monkey Ward'...

    gosh who knew my asian, hispanic and african american neighbors were so racist. being white i have no excuse. shame on me. luckily we haven't managed to come up with a racist nickname for our current maricopa county.

    curiouser and curiouser.


  16. PG or Prince Georges always has been, and always will be, the ugly step child in local counties. It will never change. Its a fact. Until some out of state senator renames it "Ronald Regan's Prince Georges County" you might as well get used to it. Then again even a name change wont help.

  17. Uh, Nadine, I don't really get your point. "Monkey Ward" is horrifyingly racist if "Monkey" is referring to it's majority black population. Are you arguing it isn't?

  18. Hell - I've lived here long enough that I remember PG County as a rural outpost populated by white rednecks (see "Heavy Metal Parking Lot"). People have been saying "PG Cownnie" for years, and there's nothing racist about it. Holy crap, we're searching high and low for offenses, here.

    We'd better change those racist WPGC call letters ASAP, eh??

  19. All the people I know from PG County call it PG County. Including black people. Shut up, politicians.

  20. Hush, Nadine.

    I think you're either hungover or really confused today.... Your post doesn't make any logical sense. It's almost like you're some celebrity arrested for DUI on the Pacific Coast Highway.

    White people must be stronger than everyone else and are not allowed to be as racist? Should I just take my life to make up for past wrongs? Maybe I should let minorities sleep w/ my wife....

    Everyone's racist. But we try our best to become enlightened beings.

    (Where are the pics?)

  21. Yeah, here we go again. They gotta find something racist in everything. It detracts from the issues really ARE race related.

    This whole fucking thing only makes me want to call it "PG" County even more.

  22. Okay, folks. Since the topic of this board has once again turned to racism, I’d like to throw a question out there. This is a serious question, and I’m looking for an unbiased view, and possibly some answers on something that has been troubling me for some time.

    About two years ago I moved my family to an upper middle class suburb here in Northern Virginia; all brand new homes. Trouble began immediately. What is disturbing is that EVERY problem that has occurred in our neighborhood has involved blacks. I’m not exaggerating, and I’ve tried hard to find one incident involving a white child or family, and I have failed. The bully on the bus – a black kid. The vandals that have been caught spray painting, shooting out lights and tearing down signs – black kids. The kids at school who are always in trouble for picking on others – black kids. The group of kids caught breaking into the new homes and punching holes in the drywall, and dumping paint on the new carpet – black kids. The groups of hoodlums that hang out on the corners using foul language and generally creating a nuisance by refusing to get out of the road when cars pass – black kids. Most recently, we’ve had problems at our community pool. The kids that have finally been banned for belligerence toward the lifeguards, refusing to follow rules, etc – all black teens. The basketball court will probably have to close because of vandalism, drug paraphernalia found, and loud foul language heard in the vicinity of the playground. The ONLY kids to have ever been seen on the court – all black youths. And the constant dropping of the “N” bomb LOUDLY amongst themselves is especially disturbing. I don’t want my kid asking what that means someday in Wal-Mart for everyone to hear them.

    My question is simple – WHY? None of the “normal” excuses apply here. These are all two parent households with the same income as my family. So there is no “lack of positive male role model”, or “underprivileged family” crap here. I just want to know why EVERY fucking problem we have encountered involves a black family. My eight year old son finally asked me yesterday why all of the kids getting into trouble are black. What the fuck am I supposed to tell him? I sure in the hell didn’t teach him this; he is learning from what he sees around him. The sad fact is that it is the truth. How can one teach their children to be open minded and objective when this is what they see around them, in an upper middle class neighborhood???????

    So I would just like to know why this is the case. This is a serious question that I’d like some serious answers to.

  23. Stop dropping the N bomb-

    Could it be possible that when black kids act out, you just notice it more? I mean, I think everyone, when they see someone of a different race, registers it somehow. None of us are color blind. There are doubtlessly plenty of smart, well-behaved black children in your neighborhood, but you don't notice them because... why would you? And there must be little white brats around too. Maybe they get punished by some teachers less frequently than the black kids (I'd bet on this.)

    As for why the black kids seem to be causing more trouble. I certainly can't answer this, but I suspect it stems from pretty long-reaching, ingrained issues, much like the reasons why there are many more black and Latino men in prison than white ones. Are you in a majority-white area? Could there be people who make the black kids feel different and unwelcome? Could they be reacting against that? I don't want to speak for any group of people, because I find that patronizing and condescending. I'm just trying to think of some ideas around your question, which I do find really interesting and worthwhile.

  24. alanna,

    Thanks. Yes, there are plenty of well-behaved black kids in our neighborhood, and believe me -- I do notice them. It's not that all of the blacks in my neighborhood are causing trouble, it's that all of the trouble makers seem to be the black kids.

    Proportionately, whites far outnumber the blacks. But if you look at demographics of my area, it pretty much matches the surrounding area. As for the whites making the blacks feel unwelcome, I haven't seen it. Doesn't mean it doesn't exist though.

  25. uh monkey ward refers to the now defunct store Montgomery Ward. as best i can tell it was a term used affectionately.
    It was sort of the 30s-40s version of calling Target tar-ghey. It was never about the race of the people shopping in the store. Later i met people of the same age of other ethnicities who also called it "monkey ward".

    those of us old enough to remember said store - which included most of my neighbors in Silver Spring - called Montgomery County "Monkey County" for the same reason.

    i don't doubt that people COULD call Montgomery County "monkey county" because it "GASP" has black people in it - but that wasn't my intent. I was just commenting about another county nickname.

    i'm guessing that in this instance offense about the whole monkey ward thing is an age thing.

    see also





  26. And yet, when some kid goes nuts and starts shooting up the school, it's always some white kid.

  27. That's ridiculous beyond words. I lived in PG county from 2nd to 8th grades (six years, then, though it seemed longer), referring to it as PG County all the while, and never once thought of it as racist or demeaning.

  28. Just scrolled down a bit more to see Nadine and Rusty's interchange. With all respect to Rusty: My family and I moved from PG County to Monkey County, where I've lived now for over 30 years. In fact, I now live in Monkey Village, between G'burg and Germantown (after stops in G'burg and Silver Spring).

    The majority of the population in Montgomery Cty. is white, not black, so Rusty, may I submit you've misunderstood Nadine?

    As for any reference to a "monkey ward," that's nothing I've ever heard of. I rarely heard the county referred to as "Monkey Cty", but Montgomery Village was and is frequently referred to as "Monkey Village." I took it then, and I still take it, as a stupid joke/play on words. Nothing hidden in it, other than childish behavior.

    While I haven't taken a census, it seems the majority population in the Village is *not* black, so there aren't any racial undertones in that nickname, either.