The Conscious Language Newsletter: February 2023

From the World of Conscious Language

“It’s jarring to read a story about a neighbor calling the police on a nine-year-old Black girl spraying for invasive lanternflies, describing the girl to a dispatcher as a ‘little Black woman walking, spraying stuff’, and then switch over to another tab with a story on the 30-year old ‘crypto kid’ who might’ve just made an oopsie with billions of dollars of customer funds.”

“Don’t correct your partner on how they change the baby or feed the baby, or whatever with the baby, because…they will lose confidence and you both will become convinced that your way is the correct way. Then you will go back to work and still be the expert…the one who does everything for them, knows what foods they should eat, what the routines are, how everything should be done.”

“As feminist theologian Mary Daly wrote: ‘If God is male, the male is god’. In other words, talking about the Christian God in exclusively masculine terms privileges men in society and underpins male dominance.”

“While the U.S. government currently categorizes people with origins in Lebanon, Iran, Egypt and other countries in the MENA region as white, many people of MENA descent do not identify as white people.”

“BuzzFeed News defaults to using biracial or multiracial instead of mixed if we cannot ask a source which they prefer.”

“If you’re using elements purely for decoration, you may actually hurt accessibility by writing an alt tag—but you still need to include an empty (or null) alt tag.”

“Next time someone uses ‘woke’ in a derogatory manner…ask them what they really mean by that term. Make them say the quiet part out loud. Because it might be harder to say ‘I hate Black people’ than ‘that’s too woke.’”

Left side: Screenshot of CSG homepage. Right side:

“Journalists need to reject this ‘free speech’ framing and contextualize what’s actually being talked about, why it is not a First Amendment violation, and what type of speech the right is defending.”

“Ableist coverage falls under discriminatory content, and is therefore in breach of both IPSO’s Editors’ code and the Independent Monitor for the Press’ (IMPRESS) Standards, both independent UK media regulators.”

“Even when scientists have lots of very strong evidence, they rarely claim to have found proof because proof is absolute. To prove something means there is no chance another explanation exists.”

 NABJ Offers Guidance on Coverage of the Tyre Nichols Murder Footage | National Association of Black Journalists

“News executives and managers must ensure that the reporting produced under their leadership follows the pillars of journalism and unapologetically tells Tyre’s story through a careful lens of the Black community.”

“Rather than using euphemisms like ‘anti-Asian sentiment’ or ‘anti-Asian hate,’ assess whether it is more accurate to use terms like ‘anti-Asian racism,’ ‘anti-Asian bias,’ ‘anti-Asian rhetoric,’ or ‘anti-Asian violence.’”

“When you apologize, you have to keep the other person’s feelings at top of mind.”—Marjorie Ingall, coauthor, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry: The Case for Good Apologies

CSG in the News

“The Conscious Style Guide website is a compendium of developments in the field of inclusive language. It was founded by Karen Yin, who launched both the website and The Conscious Language Newsletter in 2015. Yin encourages us to think critically about using language in order to avoid unconscious bias.”

“When people push back against something, it’s often because there’s too much distance between how they think and how I think. Part of conscious language…is being able to present things in a way that is relevant to people, and make sense in their language.”

 It’s Time to Retire the Term “Blind” Review | American Society of Plant Biologists

“We are changing our language around peer review to use the phrase ‘anonymous’ review rather than ‘blind’ review.”

“Even with the best of intentions, an author may make mistakes without realizing it, which is where a sensitivity reader can assist.”

From the Archives

 On Calling Little Girls “Princess” | By Joanna Eng, Conscious Style Guide

“Can this gendered term of endearment be reclaimed as empowering?”

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The Conscious Style Guide newsletter rounds up the best news and blog posts from the world of kind, compassionate, mindful, empowering, respectful, and inclusive language. Note: Spotlighting an opinion is not intended as an endorsement. Please send news tips to [email protected].