Dictionary.com changing the definition of ‘black’ after being called racist.

Procter & Gamble's "My Black is Beautiful" campaign is asking dictionaries to rethink their definitions of the word "black" and Dictionary.com thinks it's a great idea.

"Words like 'dirty,' 'wicked,' and 'evil' are offensive and derogatory words that are still being used in the dictionary to define the word 'Black'/'black,'" a petition created by the campaign reads. "These words negatively impact the perception of Black beauty and culture."

Currently, Dictionary.com's synonyms for the term are overwhelmingly negative.

via Dictionary.com


People have been urging dictionaries and the public at-large to consider a "positive" and "racially-unbiased" definition of the term via #RedefineBlack on social media.

On June 6, Dictionary.com announced that it agreed with the campaign and will work on updating the definition in response to a tweet from Kenya Dixon.

This is why 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. As a result of this conversation, we are making some updates and revisions that will be rolled out on Dictionary.com later this year.

Currently this definition sits right above a definition that reads "soiled or stained with dirt." While there are no semantic links between these two senses, their proximity on the page can be harmful. It can lead to unconscious associations between this word of identity and a negative term. These are not associations we want anyone to get from Dictionary.com, and so we will be swapping our second and third senses on the page.

Another change we are making is that we will be capitalizing Black throughout the entry when it is used in reference to people. Why capitalize Black in this context? It is considered a mark of respect, recognition, and pride. This is common practice for many other terms used to describe a culture or ethnicity. Not capitalizing Black in this context can be seen as dismissive, disrespectful, and dehumanizing.


While we often see words as tools that we use to communicate our perceptions of reality, words themselves have an impact on how reality is perceived.

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which is one of the most important theories in linguistics, states that an individual's thoughts and actions can be determined by the language or languages that individual speaks.

So by reevaluating the meaning of the words we use to describe others, it can help create a more positive perception of them. When we begin to associate black more so with beauty than treachery, society will be more inclined to have a positive perception of Black people as well.

Canva

As millions of Americans have raced to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, millions of others have held back. Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, of course, especially with new vaccines, but the information people use to weigh their decisions matters greatly. When choices based on flat-out wrong information can literally kill people, it's vital that we fight disinformation every which way we can.

Researchers at the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a not-for-profit non-governmental organization dedicated to disrupting online hate and misinformation, and the group Anti-Vax Watch performed an analysis of social media posts that included false claims about the COVID-19 vaccines between February 1 and March 16, 2021. Of the disinformation content posted or shared more than 800,000 times, nearly two-thirds could be traced back to just 12 individuals. On Facebook alone, 73% of the false vaccine claims originated from those 12 people.

Dubbed the "Disinformation Dozen," these 12 anti-vaxxers have an outsized influence on social media. According to the CCDH, anti-vaccine accounts have a reach of more than 59 million people. And most of them have been spreading disinformation with impunity.

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Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

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The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

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