Undergraduate students at the University of Manchester are calling for commonly used phrases such as "black sheep" to be removed from lecture slides and books, while concerns have also been raised about "blackmail" and "black market" during a student union-led audit of racism concerns on campus, reports the Daily Telegraph.
According to the outlet the students called for: “The university to ban the use of these words listed above and any other use of the word ‘black’ as an adjective to express negative connotations.”
Students also claim terms like “blacklist” and “whitelist” should be barred from any written communications.
They say the ban should be imposed on university research papers, lecture slides, and books published by staff.
The University of Manchester, part of the elite Russell Group, has said in a report responding to student concerns that it will address language that is “divisive and not inclusive”.
A training programme is being developed based on the “findings on everyday aggressions” and “this will include the use of racist terminology”.
The Race Matters report states the institution will consult on “appropriate language to ensure we embed inclusive linguistics into our values”.
However, the alleged “colonial” or racist etymologies of the common phrases which are to be addressed has been dismissed by experts as having no racial meaning.
Leading lexicographer Jonathon Green said the phrases were not borne from conscious racism. “An aspect of current identity politics has indeed claimed an etymology that simply wasn't there at the moment of coinage”, he said.
The negative connotations of the nursery rhyme staple black sheep may stem from the commercially less valuable wool of these rarer animals.
Blackmail is believed to have derived from bandits demanding extortion payments from victims near the Anglo-Scottish boundary between the 13th and 17th centuries.
Manchester University supported the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year following the murder of African-American George Floyd in Minneapolis.
— The University of Manchester (@OfficialUoM) June 3, 2020