Dictionary.com has announced plans to update their definition of ‘black‘ after being branded racist by New Jersey-based artist Nyshayla Barnes.
The 21-year-old took to Twitter recently to share his annoyance at the negative descriptors associated with the term.
She posted a screengrab of the synonyms alongside ‘black’, which include ‘dark, dingy, depressing, devilish and sinful.’
As reported by the Mail Online, Nyshayla wrote: “There are offensive words in the dictionary associated with the definition of ‘Black’. It is vital that we have more positive meanings for this word because how we define words shapes our perception of them.”
She also noted: “We are not taking offense to the word ‘Black’. That is our identity. We have a problem with the other words that are associated with Black that don’t need to be associated with it at all.”
“Rather than making words, such as ‘depressing’, ‘threatening’ and ‘foreboding’ synonymous to ‘Black’, we should instead use words that do not insinuate a biased undertone to a word that is commonly used to describe people of Black race and culture.”
Many praised Barnes for speaking out, with one social media user writing: “Well done for speaking up and seeking a positive change!”
Another added: “You’ve done a great thing. Good job!”
Meanwhile, the haters and racists are not having it.
One hater wrote: “This is seriously stupid! It silly stuff like this that the real issues with race get no justice. You are just looking for something to be offended by!”
“You only think it’s offensive, because you’re attaching yourself to that word. Have not moaned about yellow for cowardly, or blue for ‘feeling down’. No, of course you haven’t. Black, blue and yellow are colours,” another argued.
Another added: “As a black man, it’s embarrassing what we as black Americans cry about. If dictionarycom changes this they don’t deserve respect. Next white people can not wear cloths that are black. Get in the real fight for justice and not have a Trump (simple) mindset.”
“Now people are offended by the dictionary?? Good lord… So many sensitive snowflakes,” read one comment.
“Let’s also change synonyms associated with the color red,” another user added. “Both words have been used to describe communists/native Americans in a derogatory fashion. How about yellow? Means cowardly and has been used to describe Asians.”
Dictionary.com replied to the online conversation, revealing plans to update the definition.
“We agree! We are making some updates and revisions that will be rolled out later this year,” the company tweeted.
An article on their page noted that “’When it comes to the language of identity, the words we use are especially important. This is why when My Black Is Beautiful reached out to Dictionary.com about ‘Redefine Black,’ we saw an opportunity to revisit our current entry of the word.”
Synonyms associated with the term will no longer be “soiled or stained with dirt” but rather defined as a “mark of respect,” the report states.