"Brown Bag" - "Citizen" Did that offend you?
Seattle has an office that has nothing to do but look for words to offend… any one - real or imagined. Not just ones that will offend, but to potentially offend...
On behalf of the City Council and Mayor McGinn the Office of Civil Rights has advised city employees to stop using "brown bag," "citizen" and other potentially offensive terms.
Did you know that a brown bag was once used for a racial test? I have been around for a long time and a reader all my life, but I never heard of that. The Office of Civil Rights research team is the best.
In an interview with Seattle's KIRO Radio, Bronstein said the term "brown bag" has been used historically as a way to judge skin color.
"For a lot of particularly African-American community members, the phrase brown bag does bring up associations with the past when a brown bag was actually used, I understand, to determine if people's skin color was light enough to allow admission to an event or to come into a party that was being held in a private home," Bronstein said.
According to the memo, city employees should use the terms "lunch-and-learn" or "sack lunch" instead of "brown bag."
When was a brown bag used as a test? Where? This year? This century? In the state of Washington?
And did you know that many Seattle residents are not citizens? "Yes," you respond. Well take a lesson from Elliott Bronstein who outlawed the word:
Bronstein told KIRO Radio the word "citizen" should be avoided because many people who live in Seattle are residents, not citizens.
"They are legal residents of the United States and they are residents of Seattle. They pay taxes and if we use a term like citizens in common use, then it doesn't include a lot of folks," Bronstein said.
McGinn has his best people on this hunt. It is clearly a high priority.
-- Update --
This story quickly went national. Legal Insurrection covers it in depth with some other examples, including "chink in the armor."