Thursday, September 18, 2008


My 11 year old daughter came home from school today and asked "Mom, what's jungle fever?" !

Me: It's the name of a movie, with Wesley Snipes I think. And there's a song......
Her: No, like when someone says "Hey, you've got jungle fever!"
Me: Ummmmm......well...............

So I did what any responsible parent would do and looked up jungle fever on Here's what I got:

Whites/Blacks who make dating Blacks/Whites into a fetish activity. That is, they're consumed by the mythology behind a person's race (ie virility of Black men, the Black penis, Blacks as more primitive and closer to the mythical Jungle, etc.) than the person him/herself. Many are attracted to such relationships because they perceive them as transgressive and are turned on by that. Not all Black-White relationships are based on Jungle Fever. However, one may be able to identify relationships that are based on Jungle Fever by analyzing the couple's dating history. For instance, if a White person who lives in an area with few Blacks has only dated Blacks, then it's likely that that person has Jungle Fever. Generally considered a derogatory term that hints at past colonial relationships between Blacks and Whites, where White colonizers enter, with fascination, the African Jungle in order to learn from and conquer it.

"Watch out for that White girl Angela cause she has major jungle fever. She can't keep her eyes off tha brothers, probably because her daddy won't let her date a brother."

Is that what it means? I'm about as far from urban as you can get, so I'm clueless. I always thought it just meant a white person who liked a black person, and I didn't think it had any negative connotations. I liked the song. And that's how I explained it. Naturally her response was, "So you've got jungle fever?" Well, yeah, I guess I do. Then off she went to watch Pokemon and eat some Cookie Crisp.

Now that I've thought about it and written it out, I can see how people could take it as a derogatory term. I'll have to follow up on our discussion and make sure she knows it's probably not the best phrase to be tossing around at school, or Girl Scout meetings.

We rarely discuss race in our house, it's just never an issue that we even think about. (Although 3 or 4 years ago we were sure our now 14 year old son was on his way to being a Black Panther in-training, he was pretty militant for awhile. And not too long ago Gabrielle went through a phase of bursting in the front door yelling "I'm back and I'm BLACK!") I'm happy to say that none of our kids have had issues with the melting pot that is our family.

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