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All About The BlackFlip

Look at the Definition of Black on Merriam-Webster
Look at the Definition of Dark on Merriam-Webster

Please sign + share this petition to
end the use of anti-blackness to define blackness in the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Racism begins from the moment when we are taught colorist definitions for blackness and darkness that invoke fear and disdain. These deadly associations create biases that are being used to rationalize racist/colorist ideology and actions that limit the agency, potential, lives and humanity of people defined as black and people with dark skin. Please lend your support as we ask Merriam-Webster to remove from their dictionary and thesaurus - the biased, deadly anti-black definitions that buttress racism, demonize people of color, and normalize the targeting of black and dark-skinned people for oppression.

We implore Merriam-Webster to recognize that the role they play by "describing the language as it is actually used" perpetuates anti-Black harm by repeating and signal-boosting implicit bias. By maintaining negative definitions for the words "Black" and "Dark", they are choosing to ignore the continual violence that their noxious colorist descriptions create. By preserving these destructive definitions, they are participating in the devaluing of the voices of marginalized people in favor of the safeguarding and systematizing of structural and societal hatred. The decision-makers at Merriam-Webster are not merely reflecting colorist societal word usage, they are contributors to the societal structures that maintain racism. 

Though Black people, for many years, have upheld positive associations for blackness and darkness and have fought valiantly for the removal of racist/colorist words like "blacklist", "whitelist", and "blackballed" - only recently has a subtle shift taken place - because non-black people in powerful positions willed it. Google's Chromium web browser project and Android operating system have both encouraged developers to avoid using the terms "blacklist" and "whitelist". Twitter's engineering division tweeted out a set of words that it wants "to move away from using in favor of more inclusive language". The list includes replacing "whitelist" with "allowlist". 

Even, Merriam-Webster edited their definition for the word "racism" in June 2020 after a petition like this one prompted them to rethink the role that they play - not as casual observers - but as active participants in the abuse of black and brown people by not acknowledging racism's structural component and contributors (which includes Merriam-Webster). To leave anti-Black definitions intact is to allow racists to negotiate meaning based upon what they are taught and encouraged to use as society's structurally reinforced language... with inequitable and deadly consequences to Black + Brown-skinned people.

We are asking Merriam-Webster to work with us to healthfully and equitably redefine "blackness" and "darkness". We are asking that you add your name to this call to shift away from anti-Black bias.

Please support us in asking the Merriam-Webster Dictionary Editorial Manager Peter Sokolowski, Board of Directors, Editorial Staff, and Decision Makers to:

1 - recognize that their shift to truthfully define racism as a bias supported by institutions must also include acknowledgment of their role as thought and impact leaders providing the means, the language of racist ideology, which reinforce anti-blackness within society and institutions; and  

2 - remove negative definitions of "black", "dark", and their iterations from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. 

Please help us move toward evolved, equitable thoughts and actions by removing the prejudiced connotations and harmful associations for words that also describe and demonize a group of people.

Thank you
Kin Folkz

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