What Does Redbone Mean Slang

What Does Redbone Mean Slang and its Significance in African American Community

As times change, so do our languages and the words used to express ourselves. Just like fashion and music, words and phrases come in and out of style, and some words that were considered offensive and vulgar can take on new meanings and become embraced by different communities. One such phrase is “Redbone,” a term that has been reclaimed and redefined by African Americans over the years. In this article, we will explore the meaning and significance of “Redbone” slang, and how it has evolved in today’s society.

What Does Redbone Mean Slang?

The term “Redbone” initially referred to a type of hunting dog from the southern United States with a red coat color. However, the word has taken on different meanings in Black culture, often used to describe light-skinned or mixed-race individuals. Redbone usually describes a person with a lighter complexion, typically with reddish or yellow undertones, although this is not always the case. The term has been used in different contexts, including music and media, which has contributed to their widespread use.

The Origins of ‘Redbone’ Slang:

The use of the word “Redbone” has been traced back to the 19th century, where it was originally used to describe mixed-race Native Americans who were light-skinned with red undertones. Later on, the term “Negro-Red” was used to describe light-skinned Black people in the Jim Crow era. The term is said to have originated from the Louisiana Creole term “rouge et blanc” or “red and white,” which was used to describe people with mixed racial heritage.

Over time, the word has lost its negative connotations and has been embraced by the African American community in different forms, including music, media, and general speech. The term has given rise to a sense of pride among people who identify as “Redbone,” particularly in the Southern United States.

The Significance of Redbone Slang in African American Community:

The term “Redbone” or “light-skinned Black” has garnered significance in the African American community due to issues of colorism historically faced by this group. Colorism refers to a system of racial discrimination that privileges light-skinned individuals over dark-skinned individuals, particularly in the Black community.

Light-skinned African Americans, particularly women, have often been depicted more positively in mainstream media, leading to the belief that lighter skin equals beauty, intelligence, and success. Dark-skinned individuals, on the other hand, have been misrepresented or excluded in the media, leading to feelings of inferiority, self-hatred, and erasure.

The rise of the term “Redbone” in modern African American culture is a response to colorism, serving as a reclamation of identity and a source of pride. The term celebrates the diversity of skin tones within the Black community in a world that often privileges lighter skin.

Comparison of ‘Redbone’ slang and other ethnic slangs:

The reclamation and redefinition of an offensive slang term have not only happened in the African American community, but also in other communities. One example is the term “Ching-Chong,” which was an offensive term coined by Westerners to mock Asian languages, particularly Chinese. However, Asian Americans have reclaimed the term and use it amongst themselves as a form of identification and solidarity.

Similarly, the term “Nigga” has been reclaimed by the Black community and has become a synonymous term for “friend” or “buddy” rather than its original pejorative meaning. This has sparked controversies over its use outside the Black community, with some arguing that it should not be used by non-Black individuals.

FAQs on What Does Redbone Mean Slang:

Q. Is “Redbone” slang offensive?

A. While the term “Redbone” may have been used offensively in the past, it has been reclaimed by the African American community as a source of pride and identity. However, it is still important to be mindful of context and intent when using the term.

Q. Can non-Black people use the term “Redbone?”

A. Non-Black individuals should exercise caution when using the term “Redbone” as it is a term used primarily within the Black community to celebrate its diversity. Using the term without understanding its historical and cultural significance to the community could be misinterpreted as offensive.

Q. Why is the term “Redbone” important?

A. The term “Redbone” is important as it serves as a reclamation of identity and a source of pride for individuals with mixed racial heritage or light complexion within the African American community. The term celebrates the diversity of skin tones within the Black community and stands as a response to colorism and other forms of discrimination against dark-skinned individuals.


In conclusion, the term “Redbone” has transformed into a term of endearment in the African American community. It has become a symbol of identity, pride, and a call for unity amongst individuals. The discussions around the use of the term highlight important issues of colorism and reclaiming offensive terms to embrace one’s identity. As language continues to evolve, we must continue to be mindful of the words we use and their impact on different communities. It is essential to support and respect the redefinition of words and language by different marginalized communities.