The offensive slang term mulignan is an ethic slur for a black person.
It originally means eggplant, and as the vegetable has a dark purple, almost blackish color, “mulignan” implies that black people look like an eggplant.
It is a derogatory insult often used by Italian Americans – Italians that migrated to the US a few generations ago.
The term is equivalent to other racist slurs about black people, including the “N-word”. It is therefore considered hate speech and should not be used.
Origin of the term
While the Italian term for eggplant is officially “melanzana”, Italy’s districts have differ greatly in its dialects.
In Sicily, the term is pronounced “mulignan”, and it was first Sicilian that started using it as an offensive term.
Italians started migrating to the US in 1820, and over 5 millions have traveled ever since. As there used to be significantly more black people in the US than in Italy, the usage of the slur increased greatly amongst Italian Americans, and has been used ever since.
Spread of the term
There are smaller Italian American communities spread out in all states of the US, and as user Danny boy shared on Urban Dictionary in 2004:
‘This is the term for “African Americans” used by most Italian-American males, myself included. I grew up hearing my father and grandfather using it all of the time, so it’s only natural.’
We can see that the term is still being used today.
In 2018, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Stephen Millan used a shortened version of the term, “moolie”, to describe an African-American defendant and faced suspension.
- Urban Dictionary – Mulignan