Change the dictionary definition of BLACK

Change the dictionary definition of BLACK

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Oxford English Dictionary and

Why this petition matters

Some of the definitions, synonyms and related words for Black do not have a place in 2021.  Definitions today still reads - “characterized by hostility or angry discontent” “not conforming to a high moral standard; morally unacceptable”. Synonyms include - bad, dark, evil, immoral, iniquitous, nefarious, oppressive, rotten, sinful, threatening, unethical, unlawful, unrighteous, unsavory, vicious, vile, villainous, wicked, wrong.

On the other hand, words used in modern language to refer to Black have been omitted from the dictionaries - Black is synonymous with luxury, it is considered timeliness and classic (the little black dress), It is formal (Black tie event). 

Language plays a critical role in how we perceive the world. The function of language goes beyond expressing ideas and concepts, it shapes thought and defines our collective consciousness. And as such, language should be neutral, unbiased and reflective of our current realities. Unfortunately this is not the case when it comes to the definition of Black.

Prejudice is not just superimposed, it is metabolized deep into the fabric of society. It is a known fact that all of the single language dictionaries were written after the mass enslavement of Black people - From Robert Cawdrey’s initial work in 1604 to the first publication of the Oxford English dictionary in 1884 and Merriam Webster in 1828. This was a time when every major societal institution offered legitimacy to racial hierarchy and the demonisation of Black. 

Studies have shown the impact of this "Black is Whack!" ideology on children. White children are programmed with a false sense of superiority while Black children develop a subconscious sense of self hate. 

Join us as we advocate for change to get all major dictionaries to not only remove these dangerous definitions, but add the current elevated and positive use of the word black to the dictionaries and Thesaurus. Together we can make lasting change and deal another blow to systemic racism.

Sharon Chuter

6,512 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!