Uncomfortable conversations

A_Few_Words_About_Words_3

 

By Joe Diorio

Do we say Black or African American? I found a clear answer thanks to Emmanuel Acho, former National Football League player and current sports commentator for ESPN, in his video series, “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.”

The short answer is to say Black. It is most accurate and least offensive. “Not all Black people in America are African,” he explains in one video. “They can be Cuban, Jamaican, but also some Blacks choose to not identify with African because they may feel slavery stripped away that identity.”

And it is “Black,” with an uppercase “B”. The Associated Press recently changed its position on this, explaining that saying “black” (lowercase) is a color, not a person. This change comes on the heels of major news organizations changing their writing style to use uppercase Black when describing an individual.

“For this” and white allergies

In Acho’s video he discusses “white allergies,” which are proof that words can hurt. “The greatest white allergy I see is backhanded compliments,” Acho says. “[In] high school they’d say to me, ‘Acho, you don’t even talk like you are Black,’ or ‘You’re like an Oreo. Black on the outside and white on the inside,’ or ‘You don’t even dress Black.’ I realized that [they] were assuming that Black people don’t sound educated […] you are assuming something about Black people, and I contradict that assumption.”

Acho’s video series can be found on his website and YouTube. It is worth subscribing to.

Jefferson Davis and a bottle of bourbon

I admit it. I pick on television journalists a lot in this newsletter. But sometimes the material just writes itself. For instance, last month the State of Kentucky removed a statue of Jefferson Davis from the state capitol building. In doing so workers discovered the base of the statue held an old bourbon bottle with a note inside of it. The note in a bottle had been there since the statue was installed in the 1930s. One television reporter said it was “a bottle of bourbon with a note in it.” A more accurate description would have been to say an empty bourbon bottle with a note in it. I wonder if the note’s message was, “I.O.U. one full bottle of bourbon.”

Pandemic word of the moment

The Skimm reported this one: Maskne, meaning a skin condition brought on by wearing a mask.

I wish to stop here and offer an important Public Service Announcement: I am no doctor, but I am sure maskne mostly happens to healthcare workers or anyone who wears a mask for eight to 10 hours a day. It will not happen when you wear a mask just to go to the store. Wear. A. Damn. Mask.

Proofread. You never know who’s reading

“I’ve been working on my snark but I’m going to explode if I don’t say something: if you are running for office on an education platform, please learn the difference in ‘loose’ and ‘lose.’ The end.” Holly McCall, editor of the tennesseelookout.com news site, wrote this on her Twitter feed in late May. She did not identify the offending politician.

“It’s not that I’m out to shame someone,” McCall later said. “But, honestly, if you are running for office you should be held to a higher standard. It isn’t just about proofreading and checking your copy. Someone should know grammar and know the difference between loose and lose. I am not the only person who will be judging.”

For the record, according to Merriam-Webster …

Loose: not firmly or tightly fixed in place.

Lose: be deprived of or cease to have or retain (something).

You’re welcome.

Let’s write carefully out there, people.

Joe Diorio is a writer living in Nashville, Tennessee.

Sign up for my newsletter by texting AFEWWORDS to 22828.

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