“Language can be powerful, and phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ may have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign…This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that could be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language.”
The school heralded its replacement of the word “field” as another triumph in the fight for “dismantling oppressive and discriminating systems.”
Neither Smith nor USC is saying that the word is racist. They are saying that some may be reminded that slaves worked in fields. It does not matter that the word is not being used in even a remotely racist way. Rather than expect students to understand how words are used, it is better to ban them.
We faced the same type of logic at George Washington University when the school dropped the long moniker of “The Colonials.” I previously wrote about my opposition to the dropping of “The Colonials.” The university assembled a committee that seemed pre-disposed to drop the name after objections that, in my view, were historically and logically wrong. That followed an earlier panel that lacked any opposing views on the matter.
Now the school has adopted “The Revolutionaries” — a moniker that has greater appeal for many at the school but will likely be as usable in a sports context as the “Confectionaries.” Rather than expect students to know that our “Colonials” fought a war against an Empire and colonization, the school decided to drop the beloved moniker because some dismissed the actual reference and meaning. After all, a university can hardly be expected to stand on the meaning and history of language as an educational institution. The key is that when “The Revolutionaries” go to practice, they may want to avoid going to the “field” as opposed to “practicum place.”
It is that simple. The important thing is to believe . . . just like they said in the movie “Practicum of Dreams.”