The Conscious Language Newsletter: November/December 2023


From the World of Conscious Language

Note: The authors' viewpoints are not necessarily shared by Conscious Style Guide.


How AI Reduces the World to Stereotypes

“Researchers found that even when they tried to mitigate stereotypes in their prompts, they persisted.” Read >


“Did You Smoke?”: Three Deadly Words for Lung Cancer Patients

“Jill Feldman, an American lung cancer patient and advocate, said that unlike other cancer types, lung cancer often carries a blame culture, with patients frequently subjected to inquiries about their smoking history as if it were the sole determinant of their diagnosis.” Read >


After Tackling “R-Word,” Disability Group Seeks to Erase Stigma Associated With “Special”

“We have the opportunity to lead by example by reclaiming the word special. We aren’t allowing others to define who we are and what our athletes can do—we are leading the conversation on how words matter.”—Christy Weir, vice president of international media relations and communications, Special Olympics Read >


Doctor Who Reveals the Doctor’s True Pronouns & Gender After Jodie Whittaker’s Regeneration

“The Doctor has always been presumed to be a man due to the fact that men actors played the Doctor in Doctor Who. Moreover, this character wore clothing and a haircut considered traditionally masculine. However, this changed when Doctor Who cast Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor.” Read >


Journalists Must Cover Extremist Mass Shootings as Right-Wing Terrorism

“Contrary to popular belief—and often, news coverage—right-wing mass shootings are not simply lone-wolf attacks. Instead, these shooters are actually directly linked to each other and to the larger far-right movement, often in communication with and directly inspired by each other.” Read >


How to Ensure That Your Land Acknowledgment Doesn’t Perpetuate Oppression

“At its best, land acknowledgment is part of a larger practice of relationship and solidarity; it’s a form of aligning one’s words and actions with one’s values, creating new consciousness and new avenues to materially benefit the lives, well-being, and rights of Indigenous people. At its worst, land acknowledgment reinforces Indigenous erasure, dispossession, and oppression.” Read >


American Ornithological Society Will Change the English Names of Bird Species Named After People

“Ornithologists have long grappled with historical and contemporary practices that contribute to the exclusion of Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, including how birds are named.” Read >

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How Effective Are Tobacco Warning Labels?

“By coupling design thinking with a nuanced understanding of the real-world constraints facing public health, designers can drive positive social change through tobacco warning labels.” Read >


New Report Reveals How the Marketing of Toys Reinforces Gender Stereotypes

Tips for marketing include: “Reject outdated assumptions about gender and play in toy ads” and “Expand and celebrate intersectional identities in toy ads.” Read >


How Interpretations of the Phrase “From the River to the Sea” Made It So Divisive

“To some, it’s a rallying cry for the liberation of Palestinian people across the region, from Gaza to the West Bank and within Israel. To others, it is a violent call to erase Israel from existence invoked by militant groups such as Hamas.” Read >


Parents Are Sharing the Parenting Clichés They Wish Would Disappear, and It’s Hard to Disagree With Them

A roundup of parenting tropes and stereotypes. Read >


How The Washington Post Decided to Show Extremely Graphic Images of Mass Shootings

“We went to great lengths with the warnings to our readers—warnings that were more detailed, but more approachable. Our goal is not to desensitize people to violence.”—Sally Buzbee, executive editor, The Washington Post. Read >


Hollywood Is Still Portraying Latinos With the Same Tired Stereotypes

“The numbers are even lower for Latinos with intersectional identities, such as Afro-Latinos, LGBTQ Latinos and disabled Latinos, showing a lack of variety and nuance when it comes to Latino stories from major Hollywood studios.” Read >


Black People Say a Negative Media Stereotypes Their Community, Racism Plays a Role

“Regarding how Black people are covered in the news, one focus group participant said, ‘When a White person commits a crime, it’s an individual, it is a mental issue. When a Black person commits a crime, it’s the total community. It’s the Black community, and it’s an indictment on all of us.’” Read >

CSG in the News

Style Matters: The Challenges of Communicating for Inclusive and Sustainable Development

“Style guides work best when we think of them as more than reference tools and use them as starting points for dialogue.” Read >

New and Notable on CSG

IASLC Language Guide | International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer

“We promote the use of language that respects the dignity of people diagnosed with lung cancer and their families.” Visit Health >

From the Archives

Doctor He, She, or They? Changing Gender, and Language, in Doctor Who

“The trap lies first in ascribing essential characteristics to certain genders at all, and then in assuming that any exhibition of those characteristics is necessarily attributable to gender.” Read >

In Case You Missed It

In the October 2023 newsletter…

  • Word Choice Matters, Especially When Covering a War

  • How Conservatives Use “Verbal Jiu-Jitsu” to Turn Liberals’ Language Against Them

  • Why Puerto Rico Is Adding “USA” to Its Driver’s Licenses

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 how context can support sensitive content, with a focus on children's books and teen lit.

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