#RedefineBlack: Dictionary.com Is Updating Their Definition Of 'Black'

#RedefineBlack: Dictionary.com Is Updating Their Definition Of 'Black'

"At Dictionary.com we take words very seriously. They are foundational to how individuals think about themselves, and they can influence the perceptions of others."

According to Because Of Then We Can, Dictionary.com has agreed to update how they define the term "black," after Proctor and Gamble's #MyBlackIsBeautiful reached out to them about #redifingblack.

On June 5th, MBIB shared a video on Instagram highlighting the cause and on June 6th came the announcement of the update.

A portion of the statement read:

At Dictionary.com we take words very seriously. They are foundational to how individuals think about themselves, and they can influence the perceptions of others. When it comes to the language of identity, the words we use are especially important. This is why when My Black Is Beautiful reached out to Dictionary.com about "Redefine Black," we saw an opportunity to revisit our current entry of the word Black. As a result of this conversation, we are making some updates and revisions that will be rolled out on Dictionary.com later this year. 



 

If you look at Dictionary.com today, the adjectival sense of Black that refers to people in the third sense on the page. Currently, this definition sits right above a definition that reads "soiled or stained with dirt." While there are no semantic links between these two senses, their proximity on the page can be harmful. It can lead to unconscious associations between this word of identity and a negative term. These are not associations we want anyone to get from Dictionary.com, and so we will be swapping our second and third senses on the page.
Another change we are making is that we will be capitalizing Black throughout the entry when it is used in reference to people. Why capitalize Black in this context? It is considered a mark of respect, recognition, and pride. This is common practice for many other terms used to describe a culture or ethnicity. Not capitalizing Black in this context can be seen as dismissive, disrespectful, and dehumanizing.

We will also be doing a full review of our usage note about Black.

MBIB partnered with DoSomething to engage the Black community in the effort and to work with dictionaries to make the updates.

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