Grass grows through the seams of the pavement.


We are grateful to end this year with so many new friends and supporters. On behalf of the Conscious Style Guide team, I wish you and yours much peace, positivity, and power in 2017. Happy New Year!

Karen Yin

“Christmas” vs. “Xmas” | Merriam-Webster

This 2-minute video from Merriam-Webster Dictionary explains the surprising history behind the controversial “Xmas” abbreviation.

The Right Has Its Own Version of Political Correctness. It’s Just as Stifling. | The Washington Post

“Every group has implicit rules against certain opinions, actions and language as well as enforcement mechanisms—and the patriotically correct are no exception. But they are different because they are near-uniformly unaware of how they are hewing to a code of speech and conduct similar to the PC lefties they claim to oppose.”

In Defence of Hate Speech | The Economist

“Free speech is the oxygen of democracy—without it, all other political freedoms are diminished.”

Is “Posse” Racist? | Grammarphobia

“Words don’t operate in a vacuum. The same word can be neutral, positive, negative, or perhaps even racist, depending on the context.”

How to Talk to Kids About Sexy Dolls Without Slut Shaming | Ravishly

“A lot of adults use the word ‘inappropriate’ to avoid dealing with ‘sexy’ head-on. But I think we empower our kids when we tell them what the real issue is instead of using code words and leaving our meaning open to misinterpretation.”

22 Respectful Ways to Respond When Someone Uses the R-Word | The Mighty

“You never know how a word like that is going to hit somebody” and twenty-one more ways to respond when someone says “retard” or “retarded.”

Why a Virginia School Considers Banning Two American Classics | The Christian Science Monitor

“I don’t think that teaching racist books is a racist act—it’s part of doing anti-racist work if teachers address it carefully. If we fear controversy so much that we refuse to have open, public conversations about race, we are sending ourselves into a far worse racial future than even our racial past.”—Jody Greene, literature professor at University of California, Santa Cruz

White Authors Are Still Writing Racist Books Because White Critics Won’t Call Them Out | Quartz

“Arguing for a more rigorous criticism of racism (or sexism, transphobia, ableism, classism, homophobia) in literature is not an argument to prevent or police it. A critic’s condemnation of an author’s cartoonish or fetishized portrayal of a specific ethnic group is no more an infringement upon the author’s right to write than a critic’s disapproval of a book’s flimsy plot, plodding pace or cliché prose.”

Why Hollywood’s Portrayal of Black Women Is Problematic | The Root

“Why is it that black women always have to play someone with a perceived negative identity—slave, housekeeper, a victim of domestic abuse, villain—in order for them to be recognized as great actresses?”

This Former Journalist’s “Weird” Idea Is Transforming the Care of Dementia Patients | The Age

Replacing medical forms with stories about patients’ lives.

Keeping Bias Out of Big Data (and Other Key Considerations) | Government Technology

“Though black and white offenders were equally likely to reoffend, a biased algorithm might portray black subjects as a greater liability. The issue of bias, whether recognized or not, is linked directly to those responsible for writing the algorithm.”

The Language of Homelessness Is Changing | The Beach Reporter

“The words we use and the meanings we attach to words create attitudes, drive social politics and laws, influence our feelings, direct our decisions, affect people’s daily lives and more.”—Kathie Snow, author and proponent of people-first language

Why It’s Time to Bury the Word “AIDS” | TheGrio

“HIV is a virus that can lead to a diagnosis of AIDS. But what many don’t know is that once a person has an AIDS diagnosis, they can never go back to being classified as just having HIV, even if their numbers from their viral load and t-cell count leave the range required to give an AIDS diagnosis.”

TV Producers, Stop Portraying Bisexuals as Villains | The Washington Post

“On television, the trope of the evil bisexual isn’t new. Last year, GLAAD’s annual report on the state of minorities revealed that bisexuals are often one-dimensional characters, typecast as villains. The report said bisexual characters are ‘depicted as untrustworthy, prone to infidelity, and/or lacking a sense of morality.’”

What Do We Call You? The Controversies, Conveniences of Gender Marking “Female” Athletes | Excelle Sports

“The fact that women are more likely to be sexualized, infantilized (called ‘girls’ rather than ‘women’) and otherwise trivialized during sports coverage makes the debate over how women are described in sports even more critical.”

Are You Latinx? As Usage Grows, Word Draws Approval, Criticism | NBC News

“Like other romance languages, Spanish is gendered, [activist Mark Travis Rivera] pointed out, so ‘Latinx’ challenges people to think beyond the binary male and female options.”

Our Casual Use of Military Jargon Is Normalizing the Militarization of Society | Quartz

“America is particularly fond of its military jargon. Software isn’t vital—it’s ‘mission critical.’ …Some phrases have become so common that their military origin is largely forgotten: ‘ASAP,’ ‘on standby,’ and ‘good to go’ are all common idioms that can be traced back to the armed forces.”

After Election, Diversity Trainers Face New Version of “Us Versus Them” | NPR

“[Leah P. Hollis, president of Patricia Berkly] said the minute she uses words like ‘diversity,’ she loses the room. People who believe that others are too ‘politically correct’ won’t continue to play ball, she said. ‘If I glom onto or attach those trigger phases, it’s over.’”

Observing and Inferring While Reading With Your Child | The Children’s Book Academy

Great questions to ask while reading to children to help them develop vocabulary and higher-level thinking skills.

The Language of “Privilege” Doesn’t Work | Inside Higher Ed

“No one wants to give up privileges. The entire idea of a privilege is based on possessing a special status that is somehow deserved.”

The Conscious Style Guide newsletter rounds up the best news and blog posts from the world of kind, compassionate, mindful, empowering, respectful, and inclusive language. Note: Spotlighting an opinion is not intended as an endorsement. Please send news tips to

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