language matters

As we consider in the next theme issues of diversity, one key premise is that language matters.  As Brent Staples recalls, newspaper style rules once denied “mr.” or “mrs.” titles to black adults, a paternalistic stance that reproduced racist power relationships.  Echoes of this tendency are seen in references to Obama as “boy,” “uppity,” and “disrespectful.”  As we’ll discuss, overt racial bias is no longer tolerated in polite society, but modern racism is a deep structure which can be decoded.

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