There is a Hebrew and Yiddish word, davka, from which a concept, davkaism was derived. Its current meaning and derivation are a marriage of the Yiddish and Hebrew usages over time. Haaretz has a good article on its history and current usage.
While davka has several meanings, all of which are contextual, davkaism is more precise and describes a kind of purposeful negative response to something specific.
Urban Dictionary defines davka:
Specifically and emphatically, usually with a contrarian connotation. (Yiddish). Roughly equivalent to the exasperated “don’t you think”, as in “The plumber said he’d come between 12 and 3, so don’t you think he came at 4!”
Rochelle doesn’t make her house kosher for Passover, so she davka [schedules] her daughter’s bat mitzvah for the day before Passover, so it should be even more difficult for those of us who do.
Why am I so intently bringing up this word in another language? It is because in American English, we lack such a word. While we have all kinds of words we can string together to describe contrarian behavior, we don’t have one that encapsulates the behavior we now see whenever a Black public intellectual or academic puts forward an opinion: davkaism, or the opposition to that opinion or proposition davka, on purpose, just because it was put forth by that person or another like him or her. This is the same davkaism one sees when a Black professor’s academic rigor is always questioned, or an art form that, invariably, is appropriated by whites, is derided or, worse, vilified. It’s the same davkaism employed every time one of the Obamas is criticized for something no one would ever criticize a white president or first lady for.
In my previous blog post, I wrote about the reception to Professor Tamara Winfrey Harris ‘s op-ed: Black Like Who? Rachel Dolezal’s Harmful Masquerade. In it I mention that the same contrarian, davkaist, response to an op-ed by Lori L. Tharps, also a professor, was virtually identical for, seemingly, the same oppositional reasons. Winfrey Harris’ op-ed is an analysis based on history and science that should not be in dispute, while Tharp’s was a proposal to conform to rules of grammar that are well-established.
If the comment section of the New York Times and copious amount of articles that have sprouted in the press since Rachel Dolezal’s became a “thing,” then it appears that somewhere around half of America is mired in race davkaism, unwilling to concede what it would, without a doubt, have conceded if the races were reversed or a different one had been Dolezal’s vehicle to express her derangement.
How many white commenters, anywhere, would have tried to justify her behavior and given her a free pass had she transmogrified her appearance to look Asian? Native American?
Davkaism. That’s where we are at and it is an ugly place to be.
Your proposals for a uniquely American term synonymous to “davka” are welcome.