03:31 GMT28 November 2020
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    Since the killing of George Floyd on 25 May, anti-racism protests have been taking place globally demanding equality for black people. Responding to this movement a number of organisations have reevaluated their policies to tackle racial discrimination. A leading wine institution has taken action regarding their use of the term ‘master’.

    The Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas has pledged to drop the requirement for master sommeliers to be addressed as ‘master’ amid criticisms over the organisation’s lack of inclusion. 

    The organization has released a statement saying that the organisation “universally condemns racism, prejudice, and racially motivated violence in all its forms.”

    “We stand in solidarity with the Black community against racial injustice and support calls for reform,” it said.

    This comes after two wine professionals spoke out against the Court’s lack of sensitivity towards people of colour.

    Tariirah Habibi, an Atlanta wine professional, opened up about her experiences in an Instagram video post on 16 June. Habibi recalled how the exam administrators asked her and the other candidates to address them as “master”, a term that is associated with American slavery.

    “I just kind of sank”, the Atlanta based wine professional told the San Francisco Chronicle. Habibi passed the introductory exam but decided not to pursue further courses with the court.
    "I just couldn’t imagine having to pour a glass of wine for someone while calling them ‘master,’”  added Habibi who is the founder of the Hue Society, a group that supports Black wine professionals.

     

    Richard Betts, a prominent master sommelier resigned the day after Habibi shared her Instagram post. This is the first time a master sommelier has ever resigned from the organisation.

    In a Medium post, Betts wrote, “Today I resigned from the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas (CMSA) because I view it as an organization whose values are at great odds with my own.”

    He wrote, “the recent global amplification of the long-ignored outcry for racial equality and social justice has elicited a complete lack of empathy from the CMSA,” stressing that “this was the last straw.”

    “America is having this reckoning now, and this organisation does nothing. It’s not to say the court has to be NAACP. But stand for something. Say what matters.”

     This move by the Court of Master Sommeliers, Americas is one of many taken by companies who have reviewed their policies considered discriminatory.

    Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, the maker of Eskimo Pie ice cream bars are currently considering renaming their product due to its derogatory connotations. 

    Eskimo is a term used for the Inuit people, indigenous to northern Canada, Alaska and Greenland, which they themselves consider pejorative.

    Other products under review also include Aunt Jemima pancake mix, Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, and Uncle Ben’s rice due to the racially-charged associations with their brand names. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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