Words and their multiple uses reflect the diversity that characterizes our society. Universally agreed upon language on issues related to racism is nonexistent. Even frequently-used words in any discussion on race can easily cause confusion, which leads to controversy and hostility. It is essential to achieve some degree of shared understanding and shared language, particularly when using the most common terms. By doing so, we enhance the quality of dialogue and discourse on race and identity.
Source: Racial Equity Tools Institute
- Develop a shared language to use when discussing race and identity
- Examine how language terms evolve given changing demographics and the dynamic nature of language and understanding
- Underscore how historical and contemporary discrimination has shaped the use of racial equity terms
- ACTION ITEM: What do we want them to do with these terms or this enhanced understanding of terms?
In spring 2021, College of Education staff and faculty gathered to reflect on the work being done by Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT). TRHT is a national and community-based process occurring in 14 communities across the nation.
TRHT has several initiatives. The COE’s spring forum focused on TRHT’s initiative to create narrative change through language. To that end, the forum centered on the video #HowWeHeal (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4b_AWdbksdY). #HowWeHeal shares insights on how language has been used to perpetuate racist and deficit-based narratives; the video also includes ways in which we can consciously shift our language and encourage others to do the same to move away from a deficit-based perspective. Participants explored ways in which racial justice terms impact us on personal, professional, and interpersonal levels. Finally, the forum ended with a focus on why the narrative change in language is important and what we can do in our own practice to work toward narrative change in language.