Don't Throw Me in the Briar Patch: Poll (1 Viewer)

Do you know what "Don't throw me in the Briar Patch" means?

  • Yes, I am familiar with the saying, and I don't think it is racist.

    Votes: 21 58.3%
  • Yes, I am familiar with the saying, and I think it is racist.

    Votes: 2 5.6%
  • No, I've never hear it before

    Votes: 13 36.1%

  • Total voters
    36

Leonard

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Also post your age.

Several of the people in my office (especially those 20 years younger than me) didn't know what I meant when I said "Don't throw me in the briar patch."
My wife says that's because it comes from a racist story that nobody tells anymore.

So also post your age with any comments.

L

Age 53
I did know what it means
I don't think it's racist (although the Uncle Remus stories themselves may have elements of racism, kind of like Huck Finn).
 

links_slayer

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32, no idea what it means.

If I had to guess I would say it means something similar to "don't throw me under the bus" or "don't throw me to the wolves" but like I said, that'd just be a guess.
 

BGinGA

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Six years older than OP, and totally agree with your assessment. Was unaware that nobody tells the story anymore (if true).
 

Ben

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33, and must have read it 100 times when I was 4-6 years old. Certainly know what it means, though I don't remember all the specifics of the story (including any supposed racist elements - doubtful, as my parents would not have read it to me if so.)
 

jbutler

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32, no idea what it means.

If I had to guess I would say it means something similar to "don't throw me under the bus" or "don't throw me to the wolves" but like I said, that'd just be a guess.

Same here. I'm 34.
 

Nickawompus

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"Please don't throw me in the briar patch" became one of the standard phrases when begging some one to keep on doing what they are doing as it can only benefit me." Google says
 

CdnBeerLover

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I have heard the phrase, and knew which story it came from. That said, I haven't actually read it, so the meaning and context was lost on me (45).
 

RowdyRawhide

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no effing idea.......damn near 37

and I've heard my fair share of hillbilly phrases
 

Jeff

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That book was a collection of childhood stories my mom used to read to us. The books (Uncle Remus) are racist in today's sensitivites and wouldn't read them to my children.

I don't think the specific saying is racist. I Just turned 51. That book I was read as a kid was ancient when I was a kid and used very old fashioned language and dialect.
 
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Mental Nomad

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Am mid forties. I know what it means.

I remember the story, but not any racist elements - I didn't pick up on them at a young age, perhaps.
 

Lars

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42 and know what it means. It is used at my poker table occasionally. When I have heard it used and have used it myself I feel it has been used purely in reference to tricking someone into helping you. All I remember from the book is basically the rabbit outsmarting someone into helping him. That was a long time ago.
 

pltrgyst

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That book was a collection of childhood stories my mom used to read to us. The books (Uncle Remus) are racist in today's sensitivites and wouldn't read them to my children.

I don't think the specific saying is racist. I Just turned 51. That book I was read as a kid was ancient when I was a kid and used very old fashioned language and dialect.

This +1. I'm 68.

I wonder how many would recognize the name "Brer Rabbit" as opposed to the briar patch line?

Think of the Uncle Remus stories as analogous to South Park in their ubiquity. How many of you today would instantly recognize "tree-fiddy"? Same generational thing...
 

jbutler

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I wonder how many would recognize the name "Brer Rabbit" as opposed to the briar patch line?

after i responded to the poll question saying i didn't know it i went to the wiki entry and immediately recognized it. i knew all those stories as a kid, but hadn't seen them in at least 25 years. briar patch didn't jog my memory, but i remembered brer rabbit.

as far as the racism, it's hard to say. being unaware of the then-existing regional colloquialisms and cultural tropes, it's possible that there could be other things going on, but i've never gone wrong seeing as suspect a story that originated in the south a hundred years ago and has as a significant component a "character" of another color. no matter whether it was intended to be at the time, however, i remember the term "tar baby" being used as a racist epithet when i was a kid in the 80s, so it could be a case of an otherwise benign story being hijacked in part by bigots which would be nothing new unfortunately.

in any case, i personally would not make reference to the story or use the term "tar baby" in conversation as it could reasonably communicate at worst a racist view and at best a tone deaf insensitivity.
 

k9dr

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I vaguely recall the stories and do know the meaning - age 55.
 

detroitdad

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46, watched the movie several times. Voted not racist................in all honesty, probably a little bit, lol....
 

grandgnu

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32, no idea what it means.

If I had to guess I would say it means something similar to "don't throw me under the bus" or "don't throw me to the wolves" but like I said, that'd just be a guess.

Just turned 38 and would've had this same line of thinking. I've heard the phrase before, but didn't know there was a racial element to it.
 

fish72s

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I'm 46 and I know the phrase and meaning. I remember most of the story from when I was a kid. I don't know how you could consider the phrase itself racist. Even if the original telling probably was (I don't remember the specifics well enough except for the term 'tar-baby'.) And the story itself isn't racist either. It could easily be told in a more enlightened setting.

Spoiler Alert :
Here's the way I remember the story. A villain catches a rabbit and threatens to torture him by throwing him in a thorny briar patch. The rabbit screams bloody murder, over and over saying "please don't throw me in the briar patch!" but the villain throws him in anyway not knowing that rabbits are perfectly at home in briar patches.
So the meaning of the phrase is basically reverse psychology.
 

Hot Nuts

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I'm 46 and I know the phrase and meaning. I remember most of the story from when I was a kid. I don't know how you could consider the phrase itself racist. Even if the original telling probably was (I don't remember the specifics well enough except for the term 'tar-baby'.) And the story itself isn't racist either. It could easily be told in a more enlightened setting.

Spoiler Alert :
Here's the way I remember the story. A villain catches a rabbit and threatens to torture him by throwing him in a thorny briar patch. The rabbit screams bloody murder, over and over saying "please don't throw me in the briar patch!" but the villain throws him in anyway not knowing that rabbits are perfectly at home in briar patches.
So the meaning of the phrase is basically reverse psychology.


Close, but not quite. The fox was going to kill brer rabbit by cooking him or other means (seemed like a lot of work though), but brer rabbit acted like the briar patch would be worse and tricked the fox into throwing him into the briar patch. I think it was to represent slaves outsmarting their slave owners.

I'm 46 and also know what tree-fidy means too.
 

Mental Nomad

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Ironically, the "tar baby" is not really the racist aspect. It's a literal baby doll made out of tar; the fox made the tar baby hoping that Brer Rabbit would get himself stuck to it, as a trap to catch the rabbit. A "tar baby" is just a situation that gets worse the more you struggle with it, because of the stickiness.

The racial overtones come from the language used; the stories were told to the author by an "Uncle Remus," a black former plantation slave. The preserved language comes across as racist to modern ears, but it was just natural storytelling at the time.

I didn't realize it as a kid, because I either read "edited" versions which modernized the language, or because I just took the language as "farmer" or "hick" talk, not as black talk - none of the black kids in my area spoke like that.

Also, Disney's "Song of the South" immortalized some of the characters in a very cleaned-up way. I may be crossing memories of Brer Rabbit with the Disney version, not the originals.

- - - - - - - - - Updated - - - - - - - - -

Also, whether or not you think the Uncle Remus stories were told in racist language... there's absolutely nothing racist about the briar patch reference. The phrase, "don't throw me in the briar patch" has no racist connation at all, based on the story told. It's the original language, "but do please, Br'er Fox, don't fling me in dat brier-patch," that has racist overtones.
 
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Leonard

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after i responded to the poll question saying i didn't know it i went to the wiki entry and immediately recognized it. i knew all those stories as a kid, but hadn't seen them in at least 25 years. briar patch didn't jog my memory, but i remembered brer rabbit.

as far as the racism, it's hard to say. being unaware of the then-existing regional colloquialisms and cultural tropes, it's possible that there could be other things going on, but i've never gone wrong seeing as suspect a story that originated in the south a hundred years ago and has as a significant component a "character" of another color. no matter whether it was intended to be at the time, however, i remember the term "tar baby" being used as a racist epithet when i was a kid in the 80s, so it could be a case of an otherwise benign story being hijacked in part by bigots which would be nothing new unfortunately.

in any case, i personally would not make reference to the story or use the term "tar baby" in conversation as it could reasonably communicate at worst a racist view and at best a tone deaf insensitivity.

I don't deny that the stories of Uncle Remus seem racist by today's sensitivities. I don't feel like they were intended that way, much like my example of Huckleberry Finn in the OP. Disney's movie Song of the South, much like Dumbo or Fantasia, clearly have elements that would not make the cut today. So, IMO, Uncle Remus may have racist undertones, but the story of Brer Rabbit and the briar patch does not.

BTW the issue came up when a rather difficult and somewhat unpleasant patient asked for a referral to a different doctor in Dallas. When I said "don't throw me in the briar patch," all I got was a blank look.

L
 
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