(FiveNation.com)- The University of Southern California’s School of Social Work released a memo on January 9 announcing that the department decided to abolish the word “field” from its curriculum over its connotation with slavery and will replace it with the word “practicum.”
According to the memo, the change aligns with initiatives including the 2021 National Association of Social Work’s “commitment to undoing racism through social work.”
Removing the word “field” will support “anti-racist social work practice” to replace “language that could be considered anti-Black or anti-immigrant in favor of inclusive language,” the memo explained.
According to the memo, phrases like “going into the field” or “field work” could have “connotations for descendants of slavery and immigrant workers that are not benign.”
Unsurprisingly, the memo was met with mocking derision on social media with many pointing out that USC has several large areas that use the offensive “f-word” in their names, including Soni McAlister Field, Brittingham Intramural Field, and the Howard Jones Field/Brian Kennedy Field where the USC Trojans football team practices.
After the blowback, USC’s interim provost and senior vice president for academic affairs Elizabeth A. Graddy clarified that there is no campus-wide ban on the use of the word “field.”
In a statement to the Washington Times, Graddy said USC “does not maintain a list of banned or discouraged words.” She said the university would continue to use words “that accurately encompass and describe our work and research,” including the word “field.”
As kooky as it sounds, USC’s School of Social Work isn’t the first to decide the word “field” is racist.
Earlier this month, the Washington Free Beacon reported that Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services would no longer use the term “field worker” in agency communications due to its “implication for descendants of enslaved Black and Brown individuals.”
In a January 4 memo, Michigan’s HHS claimed that department “staff and stakeholders have raised concerns” about the connotations of the term. While the memo concedes that the term “field worker” isn’t meant to be “harmful,” HHS decided that it “cannot ignore the impact its use has on our employees.”