The Conscious Language Newsletter: March 2024

Slurs to be aware of, new and old.

MARCH 2024

From the World of Conscious Language

This edition features articles about slurs in order to help readers avoid language that may have unintended impacts and associations.

Note: The authors' viewpoints are not necessarily shared by CSG.


Is Calling Someone “White” a Racist Slur? This Is What the Experts Say

“For racism to occur, from an academic point of view, two elements were required: prejudiced and discriminatory behaviour, but also an unequal power or institutional power dynamic, [racism studies expert Mario Peucker] said.” Read >


Reports Find U.S. Border Patrol’s Alleged Rampant Use of Migrant Slur: “They Still Use It”

“Agents have reportedly used the term for decades, but many civilians have never heard of it.” Read >


E Jean Carroll Lawyer Says Trump Used Coded Version of C-Word Against Her

“As [Roberta] Kaplan told it, at the end of the questioning, [Donald] Trump’s attorneys ensured the two sides were no longer on the record before he looked at her and remarked: ‘See you next Tuesday.’” Read >


Mary Poppins Rating Changes Due to Specific Language

“The BBFC finds the casual usage of the word within the film, with no context of condemnation for the language choice, to be problematic.” Read >


How the Word “Voodoo” Became a Racial Slur

“When someone makes a statement like, ‘That just sounds like some “voodoo” to me!’ they are co-signing the long racist history of the term and promoting the idea that religions from Africa are primitive, evil and barbaric.” Read >


I Am Not “Elderly”

“‘Elderly’ is not an age group. The term is ageist—a biased word that labels a group of people as ‘other.’” Read >

The graphic features the navy-blue cover of “The Conscious Style Guide: A Flexible Approach to Language That Includes, Respects, and Empowers.” The word "Conscious" is handwritten and underlined in red, inserted above "Style Guide" with a caret. The author's name, Karen Yin, is at the bottom, in block letters. The cover is centered on a graphic that is divided into white and gold halves by a diagonal line. The text at the bottom reads: "Publishing May 28, 2024." The text at the top reads: "Change the way you think about language."

“No list of dos and don’ts can replace the thoughtful guidance offered by Karen Yin.”
—Kory Stamper, author of Word by Word

“An essential resource for writers and editors who want to get up to speed on writing with empathy and care.”
—Mignon Fogarty, host of the Grammar Girl podcast

“Intelligent and fair-minded.”
—Russell Harper, principal reviser of The Chicago Manual of Style

“The best tool book of all.”
—Paula Froke, editor of The Associated Press Stylebook


Jokes About Disability Aren’t Taboo. But Here’s Who Shouldn’t Be Telling Them

“A better and more interesting conversation about comedy and the disabled is not whether people should be allowed to crack disability jokes (they are) or if disability can even be funny (it absolutely can be). The real question is who should be telling these jokes and how the lived experience of disability—punching up, rather than down—can make for radical, truly edgy comedy.” Read >


Overcoming the Dementia Stigma: It Starts With One Person’s Words and Actions

The terms diapers and bibs “carry a negative connotation and can be infantilizing. Simple word changes such as ‘protective undergarments’ or ‘clothing protectors’ can enhance communication and minimize negative outcomes. Above all, these word changes signify respect and dignity.” Read >


Why the B.C. Government Is Right to Drop the Term British Columbian

“British Columbia has not been renamed, it simply evolved to be more representative of the people living here.” Read >


How the Definition of Trauma Has Changed Over Time

“When the word is watered down to include any stressful event, it becomes meaningless and we fail to appreciate the severity of some of life’s worst events and their impact on those who have suffered from them or have not recovered.” Read >


In Defense of the Word “Should”

“The word ‘should’ is about expectations. We expect authorities to follow the rules, to obey the law. We point out when they don’t and say what they should do instead.” Read >


Rhetorical “Um”

“At the beginning of a sentence [the rhetorical] ‘um’ tends to challenge a preceding idea, while before a word it challenges that usage.” Read >


Girls as Young as 5 Think Boys Are Taken More Seriously, New Report Finds

“Compliments about effort and skills are more meaningful and help reduce the risk of tying [girls’] appearance or passive kindness to their worth.”—Kristen Delventhal, LCSW, PMH-C. Read >


Hey YouTube Creators, It’s Time to Start Labeling AI-Generated Content in Your Videos

“When a YouTube creator reports that their video contains AI-generated content, YouTube will add a label in the description noting that it contains ‘altered or synthetic content’ and that the ‘sound or visuals were significantly edited or digitally generated.’” Read >

New and Notable on CSG

Why Do We Keep Using the Word “Caucasian”?

"The use of an outdated and disproven term that falsely purports to describe a separate race of people has no place in the U.S." Visit Ethnicity, Race + Nationality >

From the Archives

An American Nowhere

“How can I be ‘Americanized’ if I was born here? I was born American.” Read >

In Case You Missed It

In the February 2024 newsletter…

  • Are Shows Like “The Good Doctor” and “Love on the Spectrum” Helping or Hurting Autism Awareness?

  • Chekhov’s Queer—The Importance of Writing Casually Queer Characters

  • Obsessing on Gaffes Is Lazy Journalism

Stuff to Buy

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Other Resources

Join Our Online Community: Are you on Facebook? Join the Conscious Language + Design Facebook Group to learn, share, and chat with others who are curious or serious about conscious language.

Find Editors of Color: The Editors of Color Database helps recruiters connect with editors, proofreaders, and sensitivity readers of color in the U.S. and Canada. You can submit job listings for distribution to our private network and explore the 100+ resources in Diverse Databases, which highlights underrepresented groups. Diversify your sources now!

Get More Tips on Instagram: Follow @ConsciousStyleGuide for examples of context that supports sensitive content.

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