You can call it by its full name, “Prince George’s County, Maryland.” Or you can simply call it “Prince George’s.” But whatever you do, don’t call it “PG.” In fact, PG officials are taking great offense at “PG,” so you’d better do the “PC” or politically correct thing.
County members in the House of Delegates have begun pronouncing “Prince George’s” in unison whenever a fellow delegate says “PG.” Closer to home, folks are in for an extremely rude awakening from Dorothy Bailey, chairman of the PG County Council, who has said she’ll spurn folks who refer to the county as “PG.” “People making budget requests, by the third time they say ‘PG,’ I’ve lost whatever the request was. I can’t hear you,” Mrs. Bailey told the Associated Press. “We want the old image out, the image of rural, uneducated, unsafe people riding around in pickup trucks with pistols. We’re as cosmopolitan as we want to be, and as urban as we want to be.”
She and other county leaders say “PG” is “disrespectful, even harking to the Jim Crow era when many whites called blacks by shortened names rather than by their proper ones,” the AP said. Well, begging their silly pardon, but shouldn’t that be James Crow.
There are parts of PG that are as rural and backwards as they want to be. Still, PG circa 2000 hardly conjures up images of shoeless, tobacco-gnawing ignoramuses. Folks in the Washington region know PG is the wealthiest black county on this or either side of the Mississippi, and most journalists try to refrain from using “PG” except as an adjective and in headlines. The same with “D.C.” vs. the “District.”
More importantly, though, it is not as if PG officials don’t have enough serious problems to tend to chief among them troubled schools and crime. Those are real issues that, if addressed, would raise the quality of life for all Prince Georgians whether they are lifelong residents or hail from some other former tobacco region.
Keep in mind, too, you don’t see D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton in a snit because Mrs. Bailey’s constituents consistently refer to the nation’s capital as “D.C.” And you don’t see Mayor Richard Riordan debunking California lawmakers because they want to send extra bucks to “L.A.” instead of Los Angeles. And the image builders for that colonel from Kentucky, who sprinkled his chicken in 11 secret herbs and species? Most assuredly they appreciate the brevity of KFC vs. Kentucky Fried Chicken.
“PG” has grown on folks because of familiarity, not contempt. So notwithstanding political correctness, let’s just say that rather than than taking up the campaign slogan, “Prince George’s County. Discover Us,” folks are now saying, “PG. Get Over It.”