Talk:Play the white man

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Usage in England[edit]

Can any British people vouch for this phrases alleged usage in England, as stated ? Even for historical usage, I have never heard of it--Jrleighton 14:52, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Yes I can vouch for its use although it is one of those phrases that, if used by high profile individuals, would likely, at the very least, distract from the message they are intending to convey. Some might, therefore, be tempted to substitute it with a bowdlerisation of some kind e.g. "play the right man" or (as suggested below) play the man in white. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 144.82.8.38 (talk) 13:29, 19 May 2014 (UTC)

The phrase is/was used in the UK, although to be honest I haven't heard anybody say it since I was a kid. To me "Play the white man" means - be straight, or do the right thing and it's usually rendered as "Come on, play the white man". The article says "The term is considered to be extremely derogatory against non-white people because it carries the implication that they are indecent or untrustworthy" - well I don't know about that I haven't heard it since I was a kid but I don't think I ever got the impression that it was implying anything about non-white peoples. I think I might even have thought that it was referring to people wearing white like in cowboy films. i.e. "play the man in white". Do we have any references for the pharse's origins? Jooler 14:50, 14 June 2006 (UTC)

I'm an Englishman and I have to say my old man used to say this all the time if he thought people were not playing a straight bat.

I believe the term actually has nothing to do with race but more to do with a person being impartial and true. The term is derived from when people used to be sent from one army to another, either with a message, or with the white flag of surrender. This person was meant to be impartial and not playing any part in either side and therefore did not have an association with either the red army, or the blue army (or what ever colours they were). Thus, if you asked someone to "play the white man", you were asking them to be absolutely honest, true and impartial. Similar to asking something of a referee in a game of football. (ideally) —Preceding unsigned comment added by 84.67.58.140 (talk) 08:50, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

If you can find a reference for that meaning put it in. After all the article says that the racial meaning is only believed by some. -- Roleplayer (talk) 12:23, 30 November 2007 (UTC)
I don't know the origin, but I'll certainly look it up. Its usage meanwhile is uncommon, but I still occasionally hear it and (occasionally) still use it - usually for humour. I know of the racial connotation, but I don't know if that's a revisionist attempt to 'darken' a saying pre-dating colonialism.--Koncorde (talk) 17:17, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I've heard it used by two English people - one ironically (in order to be deliberately politically incorrect), and one genuinely during conversation. --taras (talk) 01:05, 11 October 2010 (UTC)

I just came across the expression in a book -- "Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves" by PG Wodehouse. It's used by Wooster in the context of the article. The phrase "mighty white" comes up often. (Written in the 1920's in England). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 207.219.27.27 (talk) 19:26, 13 January 2011 (UTC)

The expression is also used in at least one of the Hopalong Cassidy TV episodes. (I'm referring here to "That's mighty white of you") — Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.168.187.66 (talk) 03:33, 23 March 2013 (UTC)

It is also widely believed ...[edit]

By whom? This is hardly an appropriate place for weasel words. Heenan73 (talk) 20:15, 15 July 2013 (UTC)

Sam Porter Jones - 1886 - sermon "He blacks up his face one night, and to save his soul he can't wash the black, oily stuff off to play the white man. There are bound to be BLACK SPOTS ON IT. A man seeking religion and going to the theatre! It can't be done."

James Silk Buckingham, John Sterling, Frederick Denison Maurice - 1908 - The Athenaeum "just as his father has learnt of his change of fortune, furnishes one of the most dramatic moments of the piece. Jim decides that he must play the “white man ” still, and so refuses to leave his wife, but makes arrangements for his boy's education ..."

And plenty more using Google ngram. Interestingly, you could make a case for it being derived from "Playing the white man's game" - which appears many times between 1880 and 1900, often in reference to the Baseball color line Heenan73 (talk) 20:41, 15 July 2013 (UTC)