“Shall Paper live, or Ink/Since Brass and Marble Can’t Withstand/This Iron Age’s Violating Hand?” — Johannes de Bosco
The University of Southern California (that’s USC to you and me) has been thrust into the limelight yet again. In 2019, and for several years following, it was in the news as a major participant in the “Varsity Blues” scandal; rich parents were inveigled into paying bribes to the university’s water polo coach, so that their children might be admitted, as potential varsity players of the sport, to USC. It’s a university that as part of its online advertisement for itself says that “USC has conferred honorary degrees on 29 billionaires.” I’m not exactly sure why that should impress anyone, but some people at USC think it should; no doubt USC has its reasons that reason does not know. Some eyebrows were raised when USC agreed to pay its new football coach $10 million a year; not everyone on the faculty – you know, those old fogies who teach such frivolities as literature, history, and philosophy — were pleased by this demonstration of USC’s priorities. But what do those people know? Have they ever had to meet a payroll? A winning football team pays their salaries. They had better stop complaining.
And now the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work (USCSDPSSW for short) has put USC the news again. The school has just announced that it has decided to ban the word “field” from its curriculum. No longer will anyone at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, whether faculty members, or staff, or students, be permitted to use the word “field.” From here on out, it’s strictly forbidden. The story of this remarkably thoughtful act of anti-racism can be found here: “Elite University Department Bans Use of Word ‘Field,’ Claiming It’s Too Racist,” by Alexa Schwerha, Daily Signal,
The University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work will no longer use the word “field” in its curriculum or its practices as part of its anti-racist framework, according to an email reportedly sent Monday.
The school reportedly stripped the word from use due to alleged ties to “anti-Black” and “anti-immigrant” rhetoric, according to the email sent by the Practicum Education Department to the campus community, faculty, staff, and students. The school informed [sic] that the word “practicum” would be used instead to “ensure [its] use of inclusive language and practice.”
“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 email reportedly reads. “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.”
The revised language aligns with several anti-racist initiatives the school abides by, including the Council on Social Work Education’s Advancing Antiracism in Social Work Education and the Eliminate Racism Grand Challenge for Social Work, according to the email.
“In solidarity with universities across the nation, our goal is not just to change language but to honor and acknowledge incline [sic] and reject white supremacy, anti-immigrant and anti-blackness ideologies,” the email continues. “Words are powerful, but even more so is action. 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.”
The email then claimed the school would “train social work students” to “understand and embody social and racial justice” and told the campus community to “hold each other accountable.”
USC, the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, and the Practicum Education Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Don’t forgive them, Lord, at the USCSDPSSW they know exactly what they do. They are beyond all appeals to common sense. They will not engage – because they don’t know how to do so – in discussions about the right use of words. Delicacy, tact, intelligence – don’t even ask. Their every comical word-banning – don’t think they will stop with “field” — should be held up for ridicule, every jot and tittle of idiocy exposed, while those who refuse to get with the program should move unobserved from campus to campus, quietly distributing copies of Orwell’s essay “Politics and the English Language” and even more important, Ian Robinson’s The Survival of English.
Shouldn’t we do away entirely with the word “field”? If it summons up, as we are being asked to believe, images of black slaves in fields of tall cotton (but it was Johnny Cash, a white man, who sang about “them old cotton fields back home”), and Mexican workers in the bean fields and orange groves of sunny California, then it shouldn’t be banned just from the USCSDPSSW. It should be banned everywhere. Anti-racism demands it.
Think of all the possibilities. In sports, the USC Trojans run out onto the football practicum. Everyone experiences the collective thrill of anti-racism as they hear the announcer shout “they’re on the Prac-Ti-Cum and ready to go.” Baseball – same thing. The practicum of dreams will now have players catching balls at center, right, and left practicums.
In USC art classes, students will study such works of Van Gogh as “Wheat-practicum with a lark,” “The green wheat-practicum behind the Asylum painting,” and “Wheat-practicum with crows.” It takes a little getting used to, but just keep at it, and you’ll soon get the hang of it. And each time you refrain from saying the word “field,” you will have won a little victory for anti-racism. Rosa Parks would be pleased.
In the Department of Physics at USC, that last lonely professor who refuses to get on board with string theory, that is still all the rage, should announce that he is still working on trying to come up with a Unified Practicum Theory. You’re unfamiliar with that? Here’s what it is: in particle physics, it’s an attempt to describe all fundamental forces and the relationships between elementary particles in terms of a single theoretical framework. In physics, forces can be described by practicums that mediate interactions between separate objects.” There. That shouldn’t be hard to understand. A special house blend of quantum mechanics and general — or is it special? — relativity.
And let’s not stop with banning only the word “field” from our collective vocabularies and consciousnesses. There are so many other words that need to be excised from our scandalously offensive lexicons. Take the word “bend,” as in “the slaves had to bend over as they picked the cotton in their practicums.” Let’s fix it: “the slaves had to ____their torsos as they picked the cotton in their practicums.” Fill in the blank. Anything you come up with will be better than “bend.” Then do the same to transform “a bend in the river” and “South Bend, Indiana” and “bend it like Beckham.” See – you can even have fun as you deracistize your language.
What about the word “cotton” itself? I bought a cotton polo shirt the other day, and when I got home I couldn’t stop thinking about those held in bondage in the antebellum South picking the very same stuff that my shirt was made of, and I felt so…so racist. I should have been more attentive to my language. I should have taught myself to think of my recent purchase as a “shirt made of a soft white fibrous substance that surrounds the seeds of a tropical and subtropical plant and is used as textile fiber and thread for sewing.” And from now on I will. Now, isn’t that better?
I fear there is no end to this. There are so many words — thousands, maybe tens of thousands — that will need to be replaced. Whole departments of language police will spend years to work on the problem. We’ll need to get rid of “master bedroom” and “master class” and “Master and Margarita.” We’ll need to ban “overalls” and “dungarees.” And “back” of course, which makes us think of “back of the bus.” We can’t have “back.” Oh, and “bus.” And “tree.” We can’t have “tree.” Do I have to draw you a diagram? Goodness, what work we have ahead of us. And not a moment too soon. Let’s be grateful to the hyper-vigilant people at the University of Southern California Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work (USCSDPSSW) who led the way. And now we have a solemn duty to take what they’ve begun to another level.
Sheila Jackson Lee introduces bill that criminalizes criticism of a “non-White person” by a White
“The bill says any White person who criticizes immigration or vilifies any “non-White person or group” can be charged with committing a federal hate crime.”https://t.co/zAEijeigW9
— Sue Knows Best (@sues86453) January 15, 2023
Who thinks these flags are new-age religious symbols being unconstitutionally hung in a public classroom setting? pic.twitter.com/SSuUxczAid
— DC_Draino (@DC_Draino) January 18, 2023
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