For those of you who are morbidly obese, I have huge news: You’re not.
So says the American Medical Association.
Over the past few years, institutions have given syllables a shellacking.
Societal betters have overhauled language for the sake of us all.
Apropos of that mission, the AMA — along with the Association of American Medical Colleges — has published a brand spanking language guide.
The terrific title:
The handbook’s “preamble” speaks of scholarship:
The field of equity, like all other scholarly domains, has developed specific norms that convey authenticity, precision and meaning. Just as the general structure of a business document varies from that of a physics document, so too is the case with an equity document.
Now let’s talk thievery:
One example is the inclusion of a “Land and Labor Acknowledgement” like the one below. It is common that discussions in the field of equity begin with the recognition that our current state is built on the land and labor of others in ways that violated the fundamental principles of equity.
The AMA, leading by example:
Land and Labor Acknowledgement
The Association of American Medical Colleges’ headquarters is located in Washington, D.C., the traditional homelands of the Nacotchtank, Piscataway and Pamunkey people. The American Medical Association’s headquarters is located in the Chicago area on taken ancestral lands of indigenous tribes, such as the Council of the Three Fires, composed of the Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi Nations, as well as the Miami, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Sac, Fox, Kickapoo and Illinois Nations.
The AAMC and AMA also acknowledge the extraction of brilliance, energy and life for labor forced upon millions of people of African descent for more than 400 years.
We recognize the significant contributions that Native Americans/Indigenous peoples and people of African descent have made to this country, particularly to the fields of medicine and science. We celebrate the resilience and strength that all Indigenous people and descendants of Africa have shown in this country and worldwide. Their land, labor, bodies and minds—and those from other historically marginalized people and groups over the course of our nation’s history—have contributed to the wealth of this nation and, by extension, to the AAMC and AMA.
The AAMC and AMA also mourn the loss of life and liberty of millions of others who have historically been oppressed, exploited, excluded, segregated, experimented upon and dehumanized in the U.S. over centuries, and acknowledges their historical trauma and the long-lasting impact this has had on them as an individual, their families and their communities.
But even though you can call the country crappy, you shouldn’t disregard its residents.
Some of the “Language for Promoting Health Equity” directive’s recommendations “echo…recently published guidance from the CDC.”
Among that advice is to “avoid [using] adjectives such as ‘vulnerable’ and ‘high-risk'” and steer clear of verbs such as “tackle” which have “violent connotations (when) referring to people or communities.”
Additionally, don’t dare speak of “marginalized communities” or “high-risk groups.”
Indeed, “avoid dehumanizing language.”
The medical mammoth offers superior substitutions:
- COVID-19 cases –> Patients or persons with COVID-19
- Morbidly Obese –> People with obesity
- The Homeless –> People who are experiencing
- Disabled Person –> People who are experiencing (condition
or disability type)
For many, the principle surely takes the pressure off.
If you were under the impression you’re broke, joy be upon you: You’re merely a person who is experiencing being broke.
There’s even a correction for criminals:
- Inmates –> Person with mobility disability
The American Medical Association isn’t the first of its kind to comply with our new era of enlightenment.
As for canceling “marginalized,” I personally agree. It possesses a political component: In times past, the term would have been “marginal.” Contemporarily, the message seems to be that anyone in the margins has been forced there via victimization — they’ve been “-ized.”
The AMA also reports a race revolution may be in store:
After years of debate, the Associated Press recommendation is clear: lowercase black denotes a color, not a person. Their style guide aligns with the long-standing capitalization of other racial and ethnic identifiers such as Latino and Asian American.
“The Associated Press recommends not capitalizing white,” the handbook continues, “recognizing that ‘white people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.'”
In contrast, the AMA Manual of Style currently recommends capitalizing both Black and White.
Pressure may well mount for this to change.
In the meantime, there’s lots to adjust across the American lexicon.
Unfortunately, of course, none of it will have any impact on what exists.
In fact, we’ve already tried that to its most radical degree: Humanity created entirely different languages.
But as it turned out, even when they invented an alternate term for everything, the world’s established actuality remained.
At least the AMA’s trying.
As pointed out by Campus Reform, the organization’s wide awoke:
The dominant narratives in American medicine and society reflect the values and interests of the historically more privileged socioeconomic groups—white, heterosexual, able-bodied, cisgendered, male, wealthy, English-speaking, Christian, U.S.-born,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. said in an Oct. 28 statement.
Presumably, there’s a goalpost. Will our time of total transition ever end?
Fat chance — or, a chance having the experience of being fat.
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