We’ve received a few requests to explore the planking phenomenon, based on Xzibit’s assertion that planking is racist since it had roots in the way slaves were stacked on slave ships.
Adrien Chen at Gawker writes:
Actually, “planking” is a rebranding of the years-old British meme “the lying down game”. It comes from Australia, and is something radio stations ginned up as a promotional gimmick earlier this year.
Turns out, Xzibit is not the first person to claim that planking is somehow inspired by the horrific conditions in slave ships crossing the Atlantic. A popular June 28th post on the entertainment blog Courtneyluv.com seems to have kicked off the planking-comes-from-slavery panic.
But there isn’t any evidence to back that up, as far as we can see. Slaveships are one thing, but a plank is essentially a board, and an exercise move. Saying slaves were stacked like planks (or, more commonly, boards) or saying slaves were chained to planks of wood is an accurate depiction of what occurred on slave ships. It is probably not what people were thinking about when they named the move.