Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is 'Black Hole' Really a Racist Term?

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Is 'Black Hole' Really a Racist Term?

Article excerpt

Did you know "black hole" is now a racist term?

I didn't and neither, apparently, did Dallas County Commissioner Kenneth Mayfield. He told colleagues this month that the traffic ticket collection office had become a black hole, because so much paperwork was getting lost. Two black officials took offense. One retorted that the office had become a "white hole."

Houston Chronicle blogger Eric Berger ("SciGuy") was quick to point out that it's a good thing the traffic center hadn't literally become a white hole - "a theoretical object that ejects matter from beyond its event horizon, rather than sucking it in."

Call it the political correctness space race.

Taking offense at an astronomy term may sound ludicrous, but it's merely an outgrowth of the widespread belief that the English language - along with its countless metaphors and figures of speech - is racially biased and therefore must be defanged.

When her son, Ennis, was killed by a Ukrainian member of a Latino gang in L.A., Camille Cosby (wife of Bill Cosby) penned an Op-Ed saying that America had taught her son's killer to hate and cited negative associations that American society and language pin to the word "black."

"America's educational institutions' dictionaries," she wrote, "define 'black' as harmful; hostile; disgrace; unpleasant aspects of life. 'White' is described as 'decent; honorable; auspicious; without malice.' "

She's got a point: black sheep, dark humor, Black Tuesday - the list goes on. But is the racial burden of word associations really so black and white? We've already learned that a proverbial white hole is worse than a black one. …

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