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The Language of Racism: Why It's Time to Get Rid of Master Bedroom, Cake Walk, Grandfather Clause

covert racism is harder to see or hear, particularly when it's ingrained in our language. (Getty Images)
covert racism is harder to see or hear, particularly when it's ingrained in our language. (Getty Images)

It’s easy to spot overt racism — those old signs that said “whites only water fountain,” or the use of racial epithets. But covert racism is harder to see or hear, particularly when it’s ingrained in our language.

Expressions like “sold down the river,” “grandfathering in,” and even “cake walk” are all rooted in enslavement. Rutgers University linguist Kristen Syrett is among many saying it’s time to expunge them from our language, because words ultimately shape our worldview and how we view the people around us. She joins host Robin Young to discuss the issue.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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