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Picnic, Redwood Forest, East Warburton, Australia. Photo credit: Britt Gaiser

University of Michigan bans the word ‘picnic’

An American student newspaper published an unlikely list of words prohibited by the management of the University of Michigan. Among them, the term "picnic", a word which is now considered racially offensive.

Published: December 28, 2020, 9:35 am

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    According to The College Fix, one can longer say “disabled” , but rather “weakened”. It  has also become impossible to draw up a “black list” because it is now an “exclusion list” and above all, do not say that you are participating in a “picnic”.

    The racially acceptable term is “gathering”.

    This is, in substance, what the management of the Institute of Science and Technology of the University of Michigan believes. In its statement, which was obtained by The College Fix, the university declared: “It is important to assess language terms and conventions that may […] deliberately or inadvertently prevent people from feeling accepted in order to foster a healthy and inclusive culture”.

    The list includes 25 terms and it “will continue to grow” proscribing a whole series of expressions or terms deemed offensive.

    But why “picnic”? How has a nice meal with family or friends, become the sworn enemy of inclusiveness? According to the leading minds of the anti-racist and indigenous American movements, the expression was born from the widespread practice in segregationist America of the 19th century. It allegedly referred to racial lynchings organized by the white populations on African-Americans chosen at random. This activity was called “pick-a-nigger”.

    Thus “pick-a-nigger” became “picnic”. Or not, as French daily Le Figaro has pointed out. In fact, the expression dates from the 17th century in France, at the time when going on a “picnic” meant putting together a meal where everyone brought or paid their share. This information has obviously escaped the bright minds from the University of Michigan.

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