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Anorak | Langauge police ban ‘Brown bags’ and white paper – pack lunch next

Langauge police ban ‘Brown bags’ and white paper – pack lunch next

by | 4th, August 2013

racism

THE Language Police at Liverpool FC should cock their ears to Seattle. The city is debating whether to band the phrase Brown Bag when referring to workers bringing food to work because it’s racially insensitive” :

City officials urge ban on ‘potentially offensive’ language

An internal memo at Seattle City Hall is causing quite a stir.

It suggests government workers no longer use the terms “citizen,” or “brown bag.”

According to the Office for Civil Rights, the terms are potentially offensive and other words should be used. “Luckily, we’ve got options,” Elliott Bronstein of the Office for Civil Rights wrote in the memo. “For ‘citizens,’ how about ‘residents?’” Bronstein wrote.

The Office of Civil Rights says Seattle serves all residents, whether they’re United States citizens or not. And while city leaders publicize “brown bag” lunch meetings as a way to designate a bring-your-own lunch time event, the term has a sordid history.

“It used to be a way people could judge skin color,” Bronstein said in a phone interview. Does the public find it offensive? Most people agree it’s not.

But the City of Seattle isn’t alone. State lawmakers have voted to remove gender specific words in official records. Freshman are now “first-years,” journeymen are “journey-level,” and penmanship is simply “handwriting.”

To offend or not to offend, turns out to be a very sensitive question. So what is a person supposed to say instead of brown bag? According to the memo, people should try “lunch-and-learn” or “sack lunch.”

A sack lunch? Do not even think about a pack lunch.

NBC News  investigated:

For a lot of, particularly, African American community members,” he said, “the phrase ‘brown bag’ does bring up associations with the past when a brown bag was actually used, I understand, to determine if people’s skin color was light enough to allow admission to an event or to come into a party that was being held in a private home.”

Scholarly research and touchstones of African-American popular culture show that Bronstein is right.

In a 2006 book, Audrey Elisa Kerr, a professor of African-American literature at Southern Connecticut State University, documents reports throughout the 20th century of the use of paper bags by African-American fraternities, sororities, churches and social clubs to determine whether a potential member was light-skinned enough to be socially acceptable.

Blimey. What about white bags? Well

From the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz to Meg, the good witch from the Meg and Mog children’s books, witches have always dressed in black.

But their traditional attire has now come in for criticism from equality experts who claim it could send a negative message to toddlers in nursery and lead to racism.

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