December 21, 2022

‘American’ is harmful language, use ‘US citizen’ instead – Stanford University

‘American’ is harmful language, use ‘US citizen’ instead – Stanford University

By Biodun Busari

Stanford University has listed the word “American” as a harmful language and replaced it with “US citizen.”

The university revealed this on its website on Monday via the Elimination of Harmful Language Initiative (EHLI) launched in May.

According to the US institution, EHLI was “geared toward helping individuals recognise and address potentially harmful language they may be using.”

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While explaining the reason behind adopting ‘US citizen’ for ‘American’, Stanford said, “this term often refers to people from the United States only, thereby insinuating that the US is the most important country in the Americas (North and South which comprise 42 nations).”  

It expressed that there are 10 categories which include racism, ableism, ageism, colonialism, culturally appropriative, gender-based, ethnic bias, homophobia and additional consideration to be looked into for the avoidance of hateful terms.

Other terms it addressed include using ‘drop in’ for ‘walk in’, saying walk underestimates people with disabilities and ‘person hours’ for ‘man hours’ as the man reinforces male-dominated language.

Also, it introduced ‘legacy’ for ‘grandfather’, ‘primary or main’ for ‘master’ and ‘do two things at once’ for ‘kill two birds with one stone.’

The motive for the ‘grandfather’ clause denied black people the vote, ‘master’ connotes slavery and the use of killing birds with a stone promotes animal cruelty, the institution explained.