BBC bans everyday words and phrases that have racist origins

BBC sports presenters have been banned from using a number of words and phrases which are common in English – but carry racist origins and overtones.

Phrases many people may use every day have their origins in the language of hate and discrimination.

Words such as cakewalk and uppity have been banned, according to the Daily Mail.

The paper reports ‘avoiding racial bias’ training was held for presenters and commentators on Tuesday.

Among the words and phrases not to be used are blackballed, blacklisted, black mark and whiter than white.

Commentators were also told to avoid racially stereotyping black players by describing them as having pace or power.

Nitty-gritty has already been banned by Sky, according to The Mail.

The BBC invited Sky, ITV, BT Sport, Premier League production and talkSPORT to the session.

According to The Mail, this is an extract that was given to the presenters

Cakewalk

The cakewalk originated as a dance performed by enslaved black people on plantations before the American Civil War. Owners held contests in which slaves competed for a cake.

Alternatives – ‘this is turning into a breeze, a walk in the park…’

Nitty-gritty

Thought to refer to the detritus found in the bottom of boats once a shipment of slaves had been removed from the hold. The ‘nit’ refers to a parasitic insect – the ‘grits’ are the grain that would have been used as a cheap foodstuff to keep a slave ship’s cargo barely fed.

Alternatives – ‘the basic facts’, ‘the most important aspects or practical details’, ‘the key parts or substance’

Sold down the river

In the 19th Century, black slaves were literally sold down the river to plantation owners further south where brutal conditions awaited. The use of that phrase in a sporting context waters down the association it has with slavery.

Alternatives – ‘that back pass left the keeper with no chance’, ‘put the keeper in an impossible position’

Uppity

A word used by white people during racial segregation in the USA to describe black people they believed weren’t showing them enough deference. Black men and women were lynched by white mobs for seeming ‘too uppity’.

Alternatives – ‘agitated’, ‘chirpy’, ‘jumpy’, ‘uptight’, ‘troubled’, ‘perturbed’, ‘het up’

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