In an ever-evolving landscape of cultural sensitivity and social awareness, the University of Surrey is fostering a more inclusive environment by encouraging staff to consider the language they use. Here’s the whole story.
The Power of Words
Amid growing recognition of the power of words, the university is pushing for the abandonment of specific phrases that may inadvertently perpetuate biases or stereotypes.
The move comes in response to a guidance document that Mental Health First Aid England shared, aiming to promote more mindful and inclusive conversations, particularly concerning race.
The document provides examples of phrases that have the potential to offend or reinforce biases and offers alternative expressions that steer clear of such pitfalls.
Replacing ‘Black Sheep’ With Renegade?
For instance, the commonly used phrase “black sheep” is suggested to be replaced with “renegade”.
The rationale behind this substitution lies in avoiding the association of the color “black” with negative connotations.
Similarly, the term “blackball” is replaced with “ostracize”, aiming to eliminate the inadvertent association of the word “black” with rejection or exclusion.
The guidance document extends its recommendations to idiomatic expressions as well.
You Can No Longer Say ‘Black and Blue’ or ‘Indian Summer’
The phrase “black and blue”, often used to describe physical injuries, is suggested to be replaced with “bruised”.
Beyond color association, the guidance addresses the term “Indian summer”.
The recommendation is to opt for “warm autumn” or “late summer” instead.
The University of Surrey clarifies that this inclusive language guidance is not an official policy but rather a “good practice” shared by an individual at the university.
The Woke Toolkit
This move aligns with the university’s commitment to maintaining an environment that fosters freedom of speech and respectful interactions.
The initiative also finds resonance in a broader context of academic institutions grappling with inclusivity and decolonization efforts.
At Durham University, teaching staff can access a “woke toolkit” designed to evaluate and modify course content for better inclusivity.
Similarly, King’s College London emphasizes the distinction between being ‘not racist’ and ‘anti-racist’, promoting active engagement against racial biases.
“How Many of These Phrases Are To Do With Race?”
Several social media users expressed their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “I think the answer is that any people who come here offended by our language should go home!”
Another User wrote, “How many of these phrases are to do with race, none probably.”
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Asier Romero. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.
Source: Daily Mail