White Word of the Week: ‘Throw Shade’

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White people have contributed so much to American culture from Rock & Roll to cornrows and it doesn’t stop there. Join us for our new series, White Word of the Week, where we highlight yt people’s latest and greatest contributions to American slang.

This week’s word/phrase: Throw Shade, Throwing Shade, #ThrowsShade
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Origin: Shady trees, of course.

We’re sure you know “throw” means to toss, hurl or propel something with force through the air. And a tree can be a great source for shade. But it was white people that put two and two together. It all began fifty years ago when  a group of  young, white hippies traveled to upstate New York for a grand, outdoor music festival much like Woodstock. The group was made of best friends who had known each other since kinder garden. However, two of the people in the group had been bickering  on the way upstate.

So once the crew finally arrived everyone but the two bickerers where ready to get high and have a great, chill, white-hippy time. Unfortunately, the two arguers were totally sober and their once mild squabble was turning into a whole entire argument. The two started yelling at each other and one of their friends finally intervened,

“Hey! Do I need to throw you two some shade?”

The friend was really just trying to asked if the two needed to cool down, in a clever way. But everyone around assumed they meant they were trying join/ending the argument. Everyone went “Ooo!” and “Ohhhh” at the “clever” comeback, and it shut the two bickerers up. Suddenly everyone at the festival started using the phrase—and before we knew it, “throw shade” became an American slang phenomenon. And there you have it folks! White folks did it again!



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