GOOD

This College Student Took on the Dictionary’s Racially Insensitive Definition Of “Nude”... And Won!

How the #NudeAwakening movement helped redefine a natural state of being for the better.

image via (cc) flickr user nbhamla

Hear the words “nude” and “college student” and odds are the first thing that comes to mind *isn’t* a campaign for racial equality. That, however, is exactly what happened when Luis Torres, an incoming sophomore at Ithaca College, noticed something strange about the Merriam-Webster dictionary entry for the word “nude.” Until earlier this month, the definition reportedly read as follows:


  • having no clothes on
  • of or involving people who have no clothes on
  • having the color of a white person’s skin

Bothered by the obvious racial tone-deafness in the third definition, Torres took action. On July 14th–National Nude Day–he took to social change platform dosomething.org to launch “Nude Awakening,” a grassroots campaign to “[d]emand Merriam-Webster Dictionary change its racist definition of the word ‘nude.’” Speaking with Mic, Torres explains:

This is something small that most white people, myself included, take for granted. I started doing research around Band-Aids, which led to nude fashion, which led to me discovering the Merriam-Webster definition of nude. It blew my mind that an academic source was perpetuating this same racism.

Judging by the public’s reaction to Torres’ campaign, his wasn’t the only mind blown. Hundreds joined in the call for Merriam-Webster to revise their definition, plastering the dictionary’s website with comments calling for change.

Wrote one commenter:

“Hey @Merriam-Webster Dictionary, did you know you’re the only dictionary with a racist definition of the word “nude”? Remove the third definition from this word to get with the times. #NudeAwakening

Said another:

Yo! Change that definition please. According to you all, I have never been nude in my life........
Changes the directions on how to take a shower dont ya think?

Peppered throughout the comments, as well as throughout the endless stream of #nudeawakening tweets, and facebook posts, was a common refrain: “’Nude’ is a state of being--NOT a skin color.”

It’s a message Merriam-Webster heard loud and clear. Earlier this month, the dictionary site amended their online entry for the word “nude.” It now reads:

screen capture via merriam-webster.com

In response to the change, Torres updated his dosomething.com campaign page to announce the new definition, and thank all those who helped bring about this new, more inclusive entry. And while changing a single sub-definition of a single entry in a single dictionary may seem like a small victory, Torres is optimistic, explaining:

People are quick to overlook small things that can actually harm a community. We can become dismissive and defensive of very real issues because we don't see their importance. This is why if you don't understand why something is offensive but an entire community says it is, you need to listen.

That’s the naked truth.

[via mic, the washington post]

Articles
Photo by Casey Horner on Unsplash

As world leaders meet to discuss new ways to tackle climate change at the U.N. Climate Action Summit, they might miss one very big part of healing nature – nature. In a new short film, youth climate change activist Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot, a writer for the Guardian, talked about how we need to use nature as a solution to climate change.

There's a huge push to curb emissions, but it's not the be all end all of handling climate change; we also need to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. While we don't have technology to do that for us, there is another solution. "There is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little, and builds itself. It's called a tree," Monboit says in the film. Researchers found that we could get rid of two-thirds of the carbon dioxide that we've emitted during the industrial era just by growing trees. That amounts to 205 billion tons of carbon. Right now, deforestation of tropical forests is responsible for 20% of current greenhouse emissions.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Climate Action Tracker

In 2016, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement, pledging to combat climate change by taking action to curb the increase in global temperatures. The Paris Agreement requires countries to report on their emissions and what steps they're taking to implement those plans. Now that the countries are coming together again for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York City, it's worth taking a look at what kind of progress they've made.

The Climate Action Trackerkeeps tabs on what each country is doing to limit warming, and if they're meeting their self-set goals. Countries are graded based on whether or not their actions would help limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

According to a recent article from National Geographic, The Gambia, Morocco, and India are at the head of the class. "Even though carbon emissions in The Gambia, Morocco, and India are expected to rise, they'll fall short of exceeding the 1.5-degree Celsius limit," the article reads. Saudi Arabia, Russia and the United States, on the other hand, get a big fat F. "Projected emissions in Saudi Arabia, Russia, and the United States are far greater than what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Screenshot via Sweden.se/Twitter (left) Wikimedia Commons (right)

Greta Thunberg has been dubbed the "Joan of Arc of climate change" for good reason. The 16-year-old activist embodies the courage and conviction of the unlikely underdog heroine, as well as the seemingly innate ability to lead a movement.

Thunberg has dedicated her young life to waking up the world to the climate crisis we face and cutting the crap that gets in the way of fixing it. Her speeches are a unique blend of calm rationality and no-holds-barred bluntness. She speaks truth to power, dispassionately and unflinchingly, and it is glorious.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
Ottawa Humane Society / Flickr

The Trump Administration won't be remembered for being kind to animals.

In 2018, it launched a new effort to reinstate cruel hunting practices in Alaska that had been outlawed under Obama. Hunters will be able to shoot hibernating bear cubs, murder wolf and coyote cubs while in their dens, and use dogs to hunt black bears.

Efforts to end animal cruelty by the USDA have been curtailed as well. In 2016, under the Obama Administration, the USDA issued 4,944 animal welfare citations, in two years the numbers dropped to just 1,716.

Keep Reading Show less
Science

The disappearance of 40-year-old mortgage broker William Earl Moldt remained a mystery for 22 years because the technology used to find him hadn't been developed yet.

Moldt was reported missing on November 8, 1997. He had left a nightclub around 11 p.m. where he had been drinking. He wasn't known as a heavy drinker and witnesses at the bar said he didn't seem intoxicated when he left.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities