(Headline USA) The University of Southern California’s school of social work announced this week that it will no longer use the word “field” in its curriculum due to its “racist connotations.”
USC’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work shared a letter with students and faculty on several steps the school plans to take to advance “anti-racism.” One step is replacing the word “field” with “practicum,” according to the letter, which was dated Jan. 9.
“This change supports anti-racist social work practice by replacing language that would be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language,” the letter said.
Today, @uscsocialwork sent out this letter announcing that they will no longer use the word “field” (as in “conducting field work”) because it’s perceived as racist. Is this with merit or empty virtue signaling? @elonmusk @IngrahamAngle pic.twitter.com/kgM9p4MAb5
— Houman David Hemmati, MD, PhD (@houmanhemmati) January 10, 2023
The letter continued: “Language can be powerful, and phrases such as ‘going into the field’ or ‘field work’ maybe have connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign.”
USC said its “anti-racist” policies are part of a larger effort by universities across the country to “honor and acknowledge inclusion and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant, and anti-blackness ideologies.”
“We are committing to further align our actions, behaviors, and practices with anti-racism and anti-oppression, which requires taking a close and critical look at our profession — our history, our biases, and our complicity in past and current injustices,” USC said in the letter.
Interim dean of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, Vassilios Papadopoulos, clarified that the university “does not maintain a list of ‘banned’ or discouraged words,” but does seek to “create a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all.”
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has also banned the term “field worker” in its official documents for the same reasons.
“Recently, staff and stakeholders have raised concerns about the use of the term ‘field worker’ and its implications for descendants of enslaved black and brown individuals,” the department said in a memo. “While the widespread use of this term is not intended to be harmful, we cannot ignore the impact its use has on our employees.”