[Dixielandjazz] 'Shine' the slang meaning

Don Kirkman donkirk at covad.net
Tue Nov 2 16:07:30 PST 2004

On Tue, 2 Nov 2004 14:16:22 -0800 (PST), tubaman at batnet.com wrote:

>Steve Barbone wrote:

>> For those who are still unsure about "Shine" and "Pipe The Shine".

>> "Shine" is/was a derogatory term for "Nigger" which is/was a derogatory
>> term for Black people.

>> It was still in use in the 1940s, 50s and 60s in parts of, if not all of
>> the USA. Probably still is in use today.

>> "Pipe the shine" meant to beat the "shine" with a lead pipe, or blackjack
>> which had their own slang terms as being a "nigger knocker".

Can somebody please provide a reference for this usage of "pipe"?  I've
never heard it used, but maybe I led a sheltered life.  "Shine" of
course is a well-known pejorative for Blacks.

But it's clear from the lyrics that "nigger knocker" was not referring
to roughing up blacks!  Here's a bit from Dat Nigger Knocker, published

"First line of chorus: Nigger is a knocker, de worstest in de land. 
First line of text: Dere's a coon around dis town, known as Nigger
Knocker Brown. 
"Dat Niggerknocker : latest coon song"--ill. t.p."

So the "Nigger Knocker" here is the Black man himself, not an attacker.
I don't know the derivation (except maybe it was from Yiddish), but a
knocker was a very important person, a big shot.  Maybe equivalent to a

>Unfortunately, I guess I stand corrected - several confirming links from
>this direction that did not show up when I searched "Pipe the Shine" - but
>I now see this connection...


These pages document the racism and nastiness of the times, but my
browser's search function didn't find either "pipe" or "shine" on either

>and many others that were much nastier and hateful. Certainly part of our
>jazz history that most OKOM fans hesitate to acknowledge!

The history is absolutely clear, and should never be forgotten, nor
should its echoes during WW II when ethnic Japanese were locked away
without trials for several years, or when there were race riots at
various times in different parts of the US.

And we should all be thankful that OKOM comes from so many diverse
sources, because without the diversity would be something totally

What I'm still not convinced of (because it doesn't match sources I
trust for American slang usage) is that "pipe" means anything other than
to look at or observe or pay attention to something.

I don't mean to stretch this thread out, but ISTM one of the challenges
we face is to deal honestly with the racism the US has had (and still
has, to a markedly less extent) and with what that has meant to OKOM--
but at the same time to separate the truth from stereotypes and urban
mythology that blurs our vision.  Jazz is playing the truth, IIRC.

"Blacks and Blues"  !  Where would we be without them?
donkirk at covad.net

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