07.11.2020

Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations

Everyday words and phrases that have racist connotations

The words and phrases permeate nearly every aspect of our society.

"Master bedrooms" in our homes. "Blacklists" and "whitelists" in computing. The idiom "sold down the river" in our everyday speech.
 
Many are so entrenched that Americans don't think twice about using them. But some of these terms are directly rooted in the nation's history with chattel slavery. Others now evoke racist notions about Black people.
 
"Words like 'slave' and' master' are so folded into our vocabulary and almost unconsciously speak to the history of racial slavery and racism in the US," says Elizabeth Pryor, an associate professor of history at Smith College.
 
But America's reckoning with systemic racism is now forcing a more critical look at the language we use. And while the offensive nature of many of these words and phrases has long been documented, some institutions are only now beginning to drop them from the lexicon.
 
Pryor suggests people think about the context certain words can carry and how using them could alienate others.
 
"Language works best when it brings as many people into communication with each other," she says. "If we know, by using certain language, we're disinviting certain people from that conversation, language isn't doing its job."
 
Here are some familiar words and phrases you might consider dropping from your vocabulary.
 
For the full story, visit CNN.com.