Multiracial or mixed-race refers to people who identify as having two or more racial heritages. (The term biracial is sometimes used in the context of someone who identifies as having only two racial heritages.) Multiracial and mixed-race are often used interchangeably; someone may identify with one, both, or neither of those terms. The share of Americans who identify as multiracial was over 10 percent as of 2020. Often, multiracial people are assumed to be the race they “pass” as, or look most similar to, and treated accordingly. This can result in identity crises or conflicts. Multiracial people can also face potential prejudices and discriminatory behaviors based on their unique backgrounds or perceived race, so there isn’t a singular multiracial experience. Someone’s racial background or identification can’t be assumed based on appearance; nor can their experiences be assumed based on their racial background. As with any identifier, if necessary and relevant to include, being as specific as possible and taking into account an individual’s preference wherever possible ensures coverage aligns with their lived experience.
Category: Race and Ethnicity
“Medical gaslighting” describes situations in which a practitioner minimizes or dismisses a patient’s experience of their own symptoms or disorder. Medical gaslighting is frequently viewed as a symptom of implicit bias, a moment when a physician’s entrenched, unexamined prejudices undermine their ability to appropriately diagnose and provide care. Research has shown that women and people of color are far more likely to be misdiagnosed or have their symptoms dismissed, sometimes with fatal effects. Careful coverage may take into account an “official” diagnosis but will also consider the details of someone’s lived experience and systemic factors and entrenched biases that may affect diagnosis and quality of treatment.
The term “fatphobia” in practice means entrenched cultural prejudices and stigma directed at those who are considered overweight or obese according to a white American aesthetic that some cultural historians describe as originating in reaction to the enslaved female African body. Some fat acceptance activists dislike the veneer of mental health terminology involved in using the “phobia” suffix, arguing that terms like sizeism, anti-fat bias, or anti-fatness are more accurate. If necessary and relevant to coverage to use “fatphobia” or a related term, some explanation of the chosen term can be helpful for clarity. Careful coverage will also consider systemic factors such as race, gender, and socioeconomic status that can affect both someone’s weight and the degree of stigma they may face for their weight. It’s also important to understand and acknowledge that anti-fat bias, and coverage that furthers those attitudes, can have negative health consequences.
The term “woke” originated as a slang term among Black American communities to describe the idea of waking up to systemic injustices and prejudices, and staying alert to how they manifest in everyday life. Use of the term dates back to as early as the 1930s, but the term by many accounts became popularized via Erykah Badu’s 2008 song “Master Teacher” and then spread into wider awareness via the #staywoke Twitter hashtag in the mid-2010s following the police killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. If using the term “woke,” it’s important to keep in mind both its origins in African American vernacular and its current popular use largely on the political right as a pejorative catch-all term pushing back against movements for racial justice and other civil rights efforts, as well as “cancel culture.
Mpox (“em-pox”) is a disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus, which is related to smallpox. It has also been called monkeypox. It is primarily transmitted from human to human through prolonged close physical contact, including sexual contact, though it is not currently categorized as a sexually transmitted infection. To refer to the populations seeing the largest numbers of mpox cases as of August 2022, some organizations suggest phrasing such as “men who have sex with men and those in their sexual networks,” which emphasizes behavior rather than identity. However, being as specific as possible about the population(s) being discussed may be helpful for clarity. Some scientists have criticized the name “monkeypox,” saying it is stigmatizing and has racist connotations; alternatives in use in some places beyond mpox include MPX, hMPX, and MPV. As with reporting on any disease or diagnosis, it’s important to keep people’s right to privacy in mind, and to consider whether disclosing someone’s diagnosis or vaccination status is truly necessary and relevant to coverage.
Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter is a global political and social inclusive movement that seeks to end white supremacy and violence against Black communities. Though many protests and demonstrations against racism and anti-Blackness may employ the slogan Black Lives Matter, the grassroots movements are distinct from the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation.
Asian, Asian American, AAPI
AAPI stands for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, which includes a vast array of nationalities, cultures, and languages. Some argue that both “AAPI” and “Asian American” flatten and/or erase important cultural, economic, educational, religious, and other differences that exist between groups and communities. Nuanced coverage will take care to explore those differences when and where relevant. Taking into account an individual’s preference and being as specific as possible ensures coverage accurately reflects how someone self-identifies.
Hispanic, Latino/a, Latinx
While the US Census Bureau uses “Hispanic,” and Pew Research Center uses “Hispanic” and “Latino” interchangeably, some draw a distinction between the two terms, arguing that Hispanic refers to individuals from Spain or from Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, while Latino signifies individuals from Latin America regardless of language. Several gender-neutral alternatives to Latino/a have gained use recently, including Latinx, Latin, and Latine, though they are not always popular with the communities they purport to describe. As with any identifier, being as specific as possible and taking into account an individual’s preference whenever possible ensures coverage accurately reflects how someone self-identifies.
People of color have long faced different types of discrimination within the medical system, which contributes to disparities in health outcomes, treatment, and life expectancy. Mistrust is based not only on historic instances and generational and community information but also on ongoing implicit bias in the health care system that impacts the care received by a person of color. Consideration of the forces that continue to shape the experiences people of color have within the health care system is important when writing about someone’s experience with an illness or disability.
Pacific Islander refers to an Indigenous inhabitant of Melanesia, Micronesia, or Polynesia. Though Pacific Islanders are sometimes grouped with Asian Americans when discussing in a general sense, as in the term AAPI, some activists think this grouping can flatten the significant differences among subgroups of Asian Americans and especially ignore the unique experiences and needs of Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders. As with any such identifier, if necessary and relevant to coverage to include, being as specific as possible and taking into account an individual’s preference whenever possible ensures coverage accurately reflects how someone self-identifies.
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