Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Oh no, Mr. Bill: Equity Language Guides

Monday had me walk Sheba with my friends, go to the dentist, do some runs of my lines and housework. It was just another typical day at Pinecone Park. A day like every other, except for the delight I felt about the warm temperatures.

I have a clinic meeting this morning at 9:00. It’ll be short, I think, but tomorrow, a day that’s likely to be gorgeous, I have a 3-hour board meeting on Zoom. Damn. I’d rather be outside tidying up the front yard. Little by little, I am keen to bring order back to my yard and gardens. And soon, I have to order wood for Winter, and stack it.

Being woke is going too far now: The Sierra club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects ‘the disabled’ in favor of ‘people living with disabilities,’ for the same reason that ‘enslaved person’ has generally replaced ‘slave.’ The goal is to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”

The guide’s purpose is not just to make sure that the Sierra Club avoids obviously derogatory terms, such as welfare queen. It seeks to cleanse language of any trace of privilege, hierarchy, bias, or exclusion. In its zeal, the Sierra Club has banned an awful lot of words: ‘Urban,’ ‘vibrant,’ ‘hardworking,’ and ‘brown bag’ are all condemned for subtle racism. ‘Y’all’ supplants the patriarchal ‘you guys,’ and ‘elevate voices’ replaces ‘empower,’ which used to be uplifting but is now condescending. ‘The poor’ is classist;’ battle’ and ‘mine field’ disrespect veterans;’ depressing’ appropriates a disability; ‘migrant’—no explanation, it just has to go.

Most of the guides draw on the same: A Progressive’s Style Guide, the Racial Equity Tools glossary. 

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