Procter & Gamble is on a crusade to rewrite the dictionary definition of ‘black’ to strip the word of negative connotations such as ‘dirty’ and ‘evil’ in favour of its relation to culture and skin colour.
Dictionaries have a tendency to prioritise ingrained cultural biases against the colour, listing its usage firstly as a negative adjective such as ‘black-hearted’ and ‘the future looked black’.
Part of the consumer goods giant's ‘My Black is Beautiful’ campaign the #RedefineBlack push has already found a receptive audience in the shape of Dictionary.com, which has confirmed it will amend its own entry.
In a blog post explaining its embrace of the changes Dictionary.com posted: “If you look on Dictionary.com today, the adjectival sense of ‘Black’ that refers to people is the third sense on the page.
“Currently this definition sits right above a definition that reads ‘soiled or stained with dirt.’ While there are no semantic links between these two senses, their proximity on the page can be harmful.”
As part of these changes, Dictionary.com has also committed to capitalising the term ‘Black’ when used as a reference to people.
Lela Coffey, brand director of multicultural beauty at P&G, remarked “My Black is Beautiful” has always been focused on promoting a more positive perception of blackness and spotlighting bias.
“We talked with some professors about the issue and the effect that words have on people. We started to wonder if this was something we could change.”