Who woke up one morning and decided that it was a good idea to refer to minorities and low-income people as “inner-city” and “urban”?
I suppose I was in third grade when I learned that the word “inner-city” literally referred to the center of a city, and “urban” as an area within or in close proximity to a city.
Nowhere in my adolescent education (and the dictionary for that matter) did I observe the terms “urban” and “inner-city” used in a way to refer to African-American, Hispanic and other minority communities as those terms are often used today.
Sure I get it, well-intentioned people want to avoid using words that can be perceived as offensive to certain cultural and socioeconomic groups because, as many have witnessed recently in the media, news of people caught saying inappropriate words travels at eye-blink speeds (just ask Paula Deen).
But really, what’s wrong with saying…?
What is so horrible about saying minority or economically disadvantaged community? Every minority community I can think of in the U.S. has established the appropriate (politically correct) terms that people should use when referencing their specific community. For instance, most people should know to refer to people of Asian descent as “Asians” and not “Orientals.” The Asian-American community has long deemed the term “Oriental” as inappropriate.
If people are merely using the buzzwords “inner-city” and “urban” as generic, catch-all phrases in-lieu of the appropriate and accurate term to refer to culturally diverse and/or low-income groups, those individuals definitely need to get with the program. As citizens of a culturally and economically diverse country, it is imperative that we take time to understand how to properly address our neighbors that may not look or live like us.
What really makes this interesting is that the business community often criticizes the government for not being grounded in reality. And yet corporate executives cannot consistently fix their mouths to say words like “Hispanic”, “financially distressed” or “minorities.” And please do not think that I am unfairly targeting African-American, Hispanic and economically challenged communities. The truth is, about 99.9% of the time I hear “inner-city” and “urban” being used in a business setting, it is in reference to those cultural and socioeconomic groups. In complete contrast to the corporate community, I have heard politicians do a far better job at referencing these groups of people by their acceptable term – not cop-out buzzwords like “urban people,” which is often code for Black and Hispanic people regardless of whether they live in city or rural areas.
The business community simply needs to pull up their proverbial “big-girl panties” and start using the widely accepted terms that are associated with minorities and low-income people.
To be frank, it’s rather pathetic that certain individuals place the fear of saying the wrong thing above having a proficiency of language that will afford them the freedom to use the correct terms.
So fear not business world – no one is going to punish you for saying “minority community” and “economically challenged neighborhood.” Like all business buzzwords, the use of “urban” and “inner-city” needs to experience a quick death. Or at least when those words are being used the way today’s business community employs them – the wrong way.
A Champion’s Cause:
“No one sat me down and taught me this stuff. I had to learn it all on my own by bumping my head and watching others do the same…so I freely give away all that I know to help others just like me.”
- Steele A. Champion
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