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The city of Duluth, Minnesota, is getting a politically correct tune-up: removing the word “chief” from government job titles out of cultural sensitivity to Native Americans and removing masculine terms to opt for more “gender neutral” language.
“You know, names and language and what we use to call things really matters,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson, according to a report from Twin Cities posted Thursday.
“It is language that is offensive to people who are indigenous and actually offensive to a lot of people, especially when there is other language available,” complained Larson, adding, “when a gender is identified, it’s always ‘him.’”
The report noted that Larson is seeking to update “Duluth’s language in the city charter to be more gender-neutral and sensitive to other cultures.”
“It really grounds us in our work, and it can better reflect the work we do now, in terms of more modern language,” the left-wing mayor explained, elaborating on the “proposed charter modification that will go to the Duluth City Council on Monday,” Twin Cities reported.
According to Larson, the city’s chief financial officer, Wayne Parson, will go forward with the new title of “finance director.”
As for Duluth’s police and fire chiefs, no concrete decisions have yet been made.
“When you get to public safety, that language is very built into the framework of associations and peer-to-peer efforts and connections,” Larson explained, noting that Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken and Fire Chief Shawn Krizaj are open to title changes.
“So just finding the right language, our chiefs are interested in that and ready for that, but it is not something that we have really settled on at this point,” the mayor said.
Community relations officer for the city, Alicia Kozlowski, said the word “chief” is “oftentimes” “a racial epithet, and it turns into a microaggression.”
“We have the opportunity to do better and be better before we are asked,” Kozlowski said.
On May 6, the Duluth Charter Commission unanimously recommended that Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman get a title change.
“It is a language change to more accurately reflect the city that we are and the city we are becoming,” said Larson. “We are dropping the name ‘chief’ with intention and with purpose so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive and intentional marginalization.”
Keeping in-line with supposed cultural sensitivity, Quaker Oats announced last week that they will be rebranding and removing the name and imagery of their Aunt Jemima brand goods as not to perpetuate “racial stereotypes.”
“We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype,” said a statement from Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America. “While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”
“We acknowledge the brand has not progressed enough to appropriately reflect the confidence, warmth, and dignity that we would like it to stand for today,” Kroepfl added. “We are starting by removing the image and changing the name. We will continue the conversation by gathering diverse perspectives from both our organization and the Black community to further evolve the brand and make it one everyone can be proud to have in their pantry.”
However, Larnell Evans Sr., a great-grandson of “Aunt Jemima,” is not pleased with the erasure of his great-grandmother’s legacy.
“This is an injustice for me and my family,” Evans, 66, told Patch reporter Mark Konkol. “This is part of my history, sir. The racism they talk about, using images from slavery, that comes from the other side — white people. This company profits off images of our slavery. And their answer is to erase my great-grandmother’s history. A black female. … It hurts.”