A Commonly Used Word Is Being Banned Because It Might Be Racist
USC’s School of Social Work bans the word from its curriculum — I think it’s gone too far
NPR released an article over the weekend that discussed an office within the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work that decided to remove the word “Field” from its curriculum because it may have racist connotations related to slavery.
I’ve read through the Merriam Webster definition of the word “field” and can find nothing inherently racist about the word. The reason for this is simple; this word, like many others in the English language are quite benign depending on the context it’s used in.
I’m not stupid, I understand what they are getting at by banning the word, but fields (an open land area free of woods and buildings) have always existed and will continue to exist for the foreseeable future outside the horrors of slavery.
The world “field” will also continue to represent a particular area of study, activity, subject, or profession which is how it is most commonly used in educational institutions and in business. This is how I most frequently use the word.
Is this the right thing to do?
Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and not African American, that I find the vilification of the word to be so arbitrary, but I don’t think so.
Like many other words in the English language, it’s how the word is used and in what context that matters, not the word itself.
How many other words, when used in a certain context could be viewed as racist. Like you, I can come up with a few that could be used within the confines of slavery, and be considered racist. However, in everyday use, these same words, including “field” are completely innocuous.
Should we analyze every word in our language through a microscope looking for the slightest possibility that it might be offensive to someone when used in a particular way?
If we were to do this micro analysis, I’d venture to say that we would have significantly fewer words in our language and we would be all the poorer for it.