- Seattle workers given list of alternative terms to avoid offending anyone
- ‘Sack lunch’ to be used because of historic test to determine skin color
- Political correctness has also led to bar on ‘penmanship’ and ‘freshman’
PUBLISHED: 16:34 EST, 2 August 2013 | UPDATED: 19:05 EST, 2 August 2013
People living in Seattle can no longer enjoy a brown bag lunch after city bureaucrats banned the term from official use for being racist.
A memo sent out from the Office of Civil Rights also banned the word ‘citizen’, claiming it could lead to people feeling excluded in the multi-cultural city.
The memo went on to offer politically correct alternatives that could be used in official documents and discussions.
Politically correct: Seattle now has residents instead of citizens and sack lunches instead of brown bags
‘Luckily, we’ve got options,’ Elliott Bronstein wrote in the internal memo, according to Fox News. ‘For “citizens”, how about “residents”?’
Mr Bronstein defended the ban on a Seattle radio station, and said that the term ‘brown bag’ had historically been used as a way to determine skin color.
Memo: Elliott Bronstein, of the Office of Civil Rights, has suggested alternatives to the terms
Paper bags had once been used as way to decide if African-Americans had what was considered to be a light enough skin tone to be admitted to certain college teams and houses.
‘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,’ Mr Bronstein said.
The practice was described in Future of the Race by Henry Louis Gates Jr., who says he experienced the brown paper bag test when he started at Yale in the 1960s, according to theSt Petersburg Times.
The chairman of Harvard’s Afro-American studies department, said: ‘Some of the brothers who came from New Orleans held a “bag party”. As a classmate explained it to me, a bag party was a New Orleans custom wherein a brown paper bag was stuck on the door. Anyone darker than the bag was denied entrance.’
According to Seattle PI, Mr Bronstein claimed workers had raised concerns about the term brown bag in the past.
To avoid bringing up its racist connotations, city workers in Seattle must now use ‘sack lunch’ or ‘lunch-and-learn’, according to Komo News.
Many city employees have attended what used to be known as brown bag lunches – informal meetings where staff bring their own lunch to keep catering costs down.
Word of warning
The ban is the latest in a list of terms that have been replaced in Washington state:
Brown bag – Sack Lunch or Lunch and Learn
Citizen – Residents
Freshman – First Year
Penmanship – Handwriting
Journeyman plumber – Journey level plumber
Citizens Service Bureau – Customer Service Bureau
Fisherman – Fisher
They must also replace ‘citizen’ with ‘residents’ because many people in the northwest city are not U.S. 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,’ Mr Bronstein said.
According to City Data, 94,952 – or 16 per cent – of the city’s inhabitants are foreign, with most coming originally from Asia.
The city had already moved away from using the word ‘citizen’ a few years ago, when it rebranded the Citizens Service Bureau as the Customer Service Bureau.
Being politically correct is not just confined to Seattle. State lawmakers also voted earlier this year to change terms including ‘freshman’ and ‘penmanship’ to avoid gender discrimination.
‘Words matter. This is important in changing hearts and minds,’ Liz Watson, a National Women’s Law Center senior adviser, said.
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