Yes, I meant "chewed" instead of "ate."
Although I was born after the time of the song and pejorative term, unfortunately I still see the bigotry today (though not as bad as it was before my time).
However, I was raised to not even consider it an issue - differences between sub-groups were no reason to judge a person. So while I saw prejudice growing up, and understood it, the whole concept was foreign to me.
I also knew the history of shoe-shines, and since young children had filled the role at one time, that is how I interpreted the song. Perhaps because I was thankfully raised in an environment where "boy" was never used in the pejorative (save for a few adults pointing out a teen was not of the age of majority), I only associated the term with young males.
I think the progress and example of those who came before us has created a situation where many slurs have lost much of their import - which is good (and reminds me of a Lenny Bruce routine). You are right to remind us, as we still have a long way to go.
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
My Paternal Grandfather was stationed in Biloxi Mississippi during WWII, and my Grandmother had gone down to be with him at one point - they were both born and raised in Ohio. He told stories of how bigoted and segregated it was down South. Even though they were both prejudiced, they felt ashamed of how blacks were treated in the South. In Mississippi my Grandmother was told she should sit in the front of the buses and theaters. She preferred sitting in the back and was unaware of the segregation before traveling down there. It was foreign to her, despite her own prejudice, that any place would separate people like that.
On the other hand, my Maternal Grandparents (whom I was closer to), and both my parents, couldn't care less what someone was; they only cared who someone was as a person. My Maternal Grandfather had friends of all "races" as a child in the 1920s and 1930s.