By G. Brown
Offensive. That’s what some see when they look up the word “black [blak]” in the dictionary. Take a look at how Merriam Webster describes the word “Black”…
Words like “evil”…”wicked”…”condemnation”…all fall below “African American people” as a central heading like all the negative, offensive words below it is a description of African Americans.
Offensive words like”evil”, “dark-skinned peoples” is the very reason why a group of women went after Dictionary.com and demanded the site change the way it defines the word “black”.
The online campaign attracted women of all colors and generations who joined the fight…
Let’s Change The Old, Insulting, Abusive, Objectionable, Hostile, Attacking Definition Of “Black/ black ”. It’s Not Who We Are Or What We a Stand For. So Let’s Move To Change It And Proudly Represent BLACK, As We Really Are. @Dictionarycom
— Kenya Dixon (@Kenx2Doll) June 6, 2019
The campaign to get rid of the offensive ending up offending some Twitter users …
Are you that stupid or did you have to work on it? It’s a definition of the WORD black. Get over yourself. Damn, everything is offensive to you.
— R. S. (@bayman59) June 8, 2019
Just because you misconstrue some definitions of the word ‘black’ does not make those definitions wrong. “It was a black night” in a mystery novel usually sets the scene for something bad about to happen. ‘Black cats’ as bad omens, ‘black holes’ in space, villians in …
— Guy Salsburg (@guy_salsburg) June 8, 2019
You are such a fucking imbecile. Its the meaning of a word idiot.
— WreckingFools (@FoolsWrecking) June 9, 201
This argument about definitions of words associated with Black is nothing new. Spike Lee posited the same argument in his 1992 film “Malcolm X”.
Pretty sure no one called Spike Lee or Denzel an effing imbecile after this scene–at least, not publicly and certainly not to their faces.
All the vitriolic responses beg the question…’ if it’s just a definition…a mere word…then why all the upset over making the definition less ‘offensive?’ Could it be because it challenges people to change in a way that strips some of the superiority these definitions bestowed upon them?
It’s worth noting that many of the negative responses are probably trolls, bots or professional haters. But some posts from people of color seem to indicate the entire campaign was just a waste of time. Apparently, the people over at dictionary.com didn’t think so…
They responded saying, “...when My Black Is Beautiful reached out to Dictionary.com about “Redefine Black,” we saw an opportunity to revisit our current entry of the word Black. ” The “updates and revisions” will include changing proximities of some definitions so that they don’t seem to define Black people. For instance, definitions like “soiled“, “stained with dirt“, will no longer be in the same proximity to definitions of Blacks as a race of people. Also, when referring to Blacks as those of African-American ancestry, the word “black” will be capitalized since lower case black is viewed as dismissive and dehumanizing.
The word ‘black’ will still mean what it always meant. The definition isn’t changing, but the shift in lexicography is life-changing. Consider when a child now looks up the word and no longer finds what seems to be a damnation of the color of their skin? Or for kids not of color not to have a dictionary implant those negative impressions in their heads?
The changes are minor, but major enough to affect how people think of themselves and how others perceive the people that are being described.
What do you think…was this campaign a waste of time that won’t have any impact? Or is it revolutionary? Should Merriam-
Webster and other dictionaries follow their lead?