Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Acronyms Now Racist


Acronyms are racist, too. Yes, acronyms.

 Sam Bass, the San Francisco Unified School District Arts Department Director, says the use of acronyms furthers white supremacy. Which is why the organization is changing its name from the acronym “VAPA,” for “Visual and Performing Arts,” to the blander “SFUSD Arts Department.”

“We are prioritizing antiracist arts instruction in our work,” Bass said. “It is a very simple step we can take to just be referred to as the SFUSD Arts Department for families to better understand who we are.” Places where visual and performing arts occur, perhaps?

Director Bass believes that the abundance of acronyms in the education field “often tends to alienate those who may not speak English.” Apparently, Bass was awakened to the evil of acronyms by a decades old paper titled  White Supremacy Culture” by Tema Okun of National-Louis University, who managed to ascertain that “our culture perpetuates racism when things continue to be written down in a certain way.” Literary and historical continuity perpetuates racism? And I thought it added to consistency and comprehension. 

And anyway, isn’t SFUSD itself an acronym? Well, maybe. Whereas an acronym is a noun meaning “an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words and pronounced as a word, such as “NASA,” it is simultaneously a blanket term that can also encompass initialisms. An initialism is a phrase indicated by abbreviating the first letter of each word in it, but it is unpronounceable as a unique word. Instead, initialisms are pronounced by saying each letter of the word individually. LGBTQ and FBI would be examples.


The first acronyms were telegraphic code developed for the United Press Association in 1879. The code abbreviated “Supreme Court of the United States” as SCOTUS and “President of the...” as POT, which gave way to POTUS by 1895. After World War II (WWII), the use of acronyms and initialisms became much more common. But now, like almost everything else, they may soon be forbidden.


WTF? IMO this is nuts. How can an “abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words” be a vehicle for white supremacy? Things have really gotten FUBAR.







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