Welcome to The Rachel Kurzyp Show.
This is part 2 of a 3 part series where I share words or phrases that I see every day in the online business space that are unethical, culturally inappropriate, or problematic in some way.
I’ll explain why they are problematic and what you can say instead. My hope is that by having open discussions like this about language that we can create more inclusive, accessible and safe spaces online.
If you have a word that you’d like me to cover in part 3 of this series, send me a DM on Instagram. My handle is @rachel_kurzyp.
If you haven’t already, go back and listen to part 1.
I will premise this episode by saying that as a white, cisgender and non-disabled person there is a lot that I’m still learning and unlearning.
So I encourage everyone listening this episode to do their own research and seek out BIPOC and non-binary leader, creators and business owners who are doing the work in this space. I will share details of people who I have been learning from at the end of this post.
Ok, let’s dive in.
The first word I want you to remove from your copy is Guru.
Everytime I hear or see someone use this word I get ranty.
This word originated in India thousands of years ago and means a Hindu spiritual leader or head of a religious sect or an influential teacher and revered mentor.
Like with the word Queen, white people have culturally appropriated this word and in doing so have ignored it’s true meaning. Guru isn’t interchangeable with the word expert as is commonly done in the online business space.
A Guru is a revered leader and the term is given to them by their community, it isn’t a title that can be claimed especially because the person wants to seem special and worldly.
So please stop using words like Guru, Ninja and Warrior to demonstrate your expertise. Call yourself an expert, thought leader, teacher or any other word that doesn’t have a religious and cultural connection.
The second word I want you to remove from your copy is Crazy.
Saying something or someone is crazy perpetuates stigma around mental health. The word has long been used to reinforce the idea that people with mental illness are divorced from reality, irrational, or incapable of making decisions. And that their mental illness is something they have brought on themselves or caused through actions. Which thanks to the work being done in this space, we know is not true.
For many of us, using words and phrases like crazy, insane, and retarded has been part of our personal and collective lexicon for years. So we use these words out of habit and don’t even register whether we’ve said them or written them until someone else points them out.
It takes time to break a habit so we stop causing harm to people who have or are experiencing mental illness. So if you say them, correct yourself and keep speaking. And make a note of the words you use so you can remove them in the editing process. Replace them with words like silly or strange that convey the same thing.
The third word I want you to remove from your copy is Tribe.
“Find your tribe.” How many times have we heard that phrase in the online business world before?
This is why you shouldn’t use it.
While it’s used by many business owners as a simple way to talk about community or a group of like-minded people; the word is racially sensitive.
The definition of Tribe is a familial, cultural, and historical group who often live close together. However, many of the BIPOC community have said they find the term offensive due to the violence, colonialism and history associated with the word.
And it has been used for hundreds of years to perpetuate the myth that people from Africa are primitive. And many Native American (First Nations) people have been negatively affected by the political, societal and economic implications of this word.
So I would encourage you to do your own research into the definition and use of the word but if you don’t wish to alienate and cause harm to your community use words like people, family, community, friends, group instead.
The fourth word I want you to remove from your copy is Savage.
Like Tribe, the word Savage has been culturally appropriated by white people to mean you’re a ‘bad arse’ but for the BIPOC community this word has been used for hundreds of years to justify colonisation, oppression and genocide because to be savage is to be inhuman and less than.
So replace this word with ones like: bad arse, no remorse, telling it like it is which convey your originally intended meaning.
The final word I want you to remove from your copy is Girl Boss.
What was meant to be an empowerment slogan has now become a sexist term that is demeaning to women. It’s sad that we feel like we need to reduce our power to the colours pink and glitter to be taken seriously in the business space.
If you’re unsure why it diminishes our power when women use it freely online as a form of endearment. Ask yourself: “Have you ever heard a male business owner be referred to as a #boyboss or #boyCEO? No, that’s because men’s power in the workforce is still the default.
So while individuals in your community may not feel personally affected by the use of this word, the word itself is still problematic as it implies that women as a group in the business world need special treatment and I know that all of us are fighting for equality in the workforce.
This means it’s time to stop using words like #girlboss and instead use gender-neutral words like everyone, team, CEO, spokesperson and humankind in your marketing and communications.
If you’re using any of these words or phrases, you don’t have to make a formal public apology or edit all of your Instagram posts from the past 12 months.
Instead, put aside time to do a content, sales and branding audit to ensure what you are sharing with your community is inclusive and the way in which you are sharing is ethical.
Remember we’re all learning and unlearning so don’t be hard on yourself or others. Now that you know, you can support your clients and community to make changes to their copy too.
Leaders I’ve learned from:
Ethical sales and marketing is one of the reasons why my clients choose to work with me. If you want support to create a human-first business, then I’d love to speak with you.
I have a few 1:1 coaching spots left in 2021. Use the link here to book a discovery call so we can chat through the ways I can support you to build a sustainable and profitable business. Thanks so much for tuning into today’s episode.
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