Politically Correct Language Update!

These are new politically correct alternatives to your offensive speech, friends!

Please consider primarily changing your language to coddle the reality of those who need help, rather than educating them. You’ve heard the story – teach a man to fish and he’ll have fish for life, but if you do all the fishing for him, he’ll be mentally enslaved to you forever!

This language is brought to you by the prestigious Brandeis University. and in all honesty, I document it here for the absurdity of it and to place it all in one easily accessible location. Brandeis calls this an “Oppressive Language List.” It’s extremely important for our educational institutions to be held accountable – for public records to be kept of their behavior.

We’re actually having non-consensual language controls promulgated (Brandeis: “rape”) and we weren’t invited to the powwow to decide this. We’re then vilified for not agreeing with it. It’s an abusive relationship.

Oppressive LanguagePossible Alternatives
Victim / Survivor Person who has experienced…Person who has been impacted by…
Disabled personWheelchair-boundPerson with a disabilityPerson who uses a wheelchair
Mentally illPerson living with a mental health condition
Child prostitute, sex with underage personNon-consensual sexChild who has been trafficked, rapeRape
Abusive relationshipsRelationship with an abuser
AddictPerson with a substance use disorder
Homeless personPerson experiencing housing insecurity
ProstitutePerson who engages in sex work
Person-First Language
TribeFriends, group, palsThe word tribe was historically used in a dehumanizing way to equate indigenous people with savages; in modern times, a member of an indigenous tribe can describe themself as such.
PowwowMeeting, party, gatheringUsing the word powwow erases the cultural roots, significance, and true meaning of the word.
Spirit animalFavorite animal, animal I would most like to beIn some cultural and spiritual traditions, spirit animals refer to an animal spirit that helps guide and/or protect a person through a journey; equating this with an animal you like strips the term of its significance.
Culturally Appropriative Language
Oppressive LanguagePossible AlternativesExplanation
“Everything going on right now”Police brutality, protests, BLM, COVID-19, etc. Name what you are referring to!Being vague about important issues risks miscommunication and can also avoid accountability.
Committed suicide, failed/successful suicide, completed suicideDied by suicide; suicided; killed themselfThese verbs frame suicide as a crime (committed) or an achievement (fail, successful, completed), implying judgment about suicidality.
Child prostitute, sex with underage person
Non-consensual sex
Child who has been trafficked, rapeRape Sex with someone without their consent is rape; it is important to name this.
Abusive relationshipsRelationship with an abuserRelationships don’t perpetrate abuse; abusers do. It is important to name that someone is responsible.
VictimSurvivorPerson who has experienced…Person who has been impacted by…These labels can make a person feel reduced to an experience. Person-first language is great here, unless the person identifies with either word. If they do, honor them by using that word!
Depending on who you mean:Women, including trans womenCisgender women, menAssigned female/male at birthThese terms imply that a person’s identity isn’t “real” or that their body defines them in a different way than they might identify.
“I’m going to kill myself” “Kill me”“I’m really upset.” “I’m so overwhelmed” “I want to stop doing this.”Joking about suicide is very harmful and belittles the problem as well as people who may be seriously considering suicide or have in the past.
Language That Doesn’t Say What We Mean
Oppressive LanguagePossible AlternativesExplanation
Gender exclusive language
You guys, Ladies and Gentlemen, Policeman, congressman, etc.
Freshman, She/He
Gender inclusive languageY’all, folks or folx, friends, loved ones, peoplePolice Officer, Congressperson, etc.First year studentThey or Ask their pronouns!These examples either lump all people under masculine language or within the gender binary (man or woman), which doesn’t include everyone.
(unless the person/people identify as such)
Black (with a capital B)Not all Black people are from Africa and/or America
Ableist language
Crazy, Insane, Wild
That’s bananasUncool, disappointingDrop-in Ableist language can contribute to stigmas about and trivializes the experiences of people living mental health conditions.
Generic “people of color“BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) – this term intentionally names Black and Indigenous folks who are disproportionately impacted by violence in the US, even more so than other people of color.If you are talking about a specific racial group, name the group you are talking about.
Tranny, transsexual, hermaphrodite, f*g, or other slurs for LGBTQ+ peopleLGBTQ+Trans and gender non-conforming folkQueer (consider your audience, not everyone receives this word positively)Many of these terms have historically and continue to be used in a hateful way against LGBTQ+ folks. As with other in-group language, sometimes folks may refer to themselves with a word that someone outside of that group should not use.
TransgenderedTransgenderTransgender should not be past tense; drop the -ed!
Long time no see
No can do
I haven’t seen you in so long!
Sorry, I can’t.
These terms as well as other expressions using broken English originate from stereotypes making fun of non-native English speakers, particularly applied to indigenous people and Asians.
To get gypped
To get Jewed
To get ripped off
To get haggled down unreasonably
Gypped is derived from “gypsy,” connected to the racial stereotype that gypsies are swindlers.Similarly, Jewed is based on the stereotype that Jews are cheap and/or money hoarders.
Sold down the riverBetrayedThis expression refers to enslaved people who were sold as punishment, separating them from their families and loved ones.
Indian-giverTake something back; rescind a giftThe term Indian-giver is said to have roots in misunderstandings about trade customs in early relationships between Indigenous people in the Americas and white settlers. 
Identity-Based Language

One thing that particularly bothers me is when words like “Powwow” are deemed largely unusable, the word itself loses its relativity to our culture. I love having that word in our culture.

Fancy Suit Powwow

Powow Photo Credit