P&G calls on dictionaries to redefine 'black'

P&G: Dictionary.com has already pledged support
P&G: Dictionary.com has already pledged support

FMCG giant says dictionaries associate the word 'black' with 'dirty', 'angry' and 'evil'.

My Black is Beautiful, Procter & Gamble's African-American community-building platform, is challenging dictionaries to join its "Redefine black" campaign, calling on them to help banish the biased and negative associations tied to the word "black".` 

A P&G statement said "dirty", "angry" and "evil" are three words dictionaries still use to define the word "black". It said the definitions of the word "black" and negative associations aren't just inaccurate, they are also harmful because they fuel what researchers call the "Bad Is Black" effect. This effect shows that when people associate darkness with badness, it causes real-world racial prejudice.

The initiative is in partnership with tech company DoSomething.org, which champions social change. The P&G statement continued: "The negative associations tied to the word 'black' are pervasive and continue to live through language, as evident in many dictionaries of standard." US actress and singer-songwriter Naturi Naughton has also pledged her support for the campaign.

Lela Coffey, brand director of multicultural beauty at P&G, said: "For over a decade, MBIB has inspired change by uplifting blackness and through honest dialogue about bias. The 'Redefine black' movement tackles the negative associations with the word 'black'. Through our experience, we know words matter. Our goal is to continue to celebrate and elevate all that is beautiful about black culture."

Dictionary.com pledged its support earlier this week and said it would make "updates and revisions" that will be rolled out later this year.

Carrie Bloxson, chief marketing officer at DoSomething.org, added: "Language shapes the way we see and treat people, and can fuel real-world prejudice and bias. That's why we're so proud to partner with My Black is Beautiful on 'Redefine black'. By mobilising young people around this issue, we can change perception and advocate for meaningful change, starting with the words we use."

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