Language Guide for Communicating About Those Involved In The Carceral System


Language is not merely descriptive, it is creative. For too long we have borne the burden of having to recreate our humanity in the eyes of those who would have us permanently defined by a system that grew directly out of the institution of American slavery, an institution that depended on the dehumanization of the people it enslaved. It is in this spirit that we, the formerly incarcerated and system-impacted academics who identify as the Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) at the University of California, Berkeley, call on the media, students, and public to utilize the following terminology when discussing our population individually or collectively. This is not about euphemisms or glossing over people's actions, rather it is about reclaiming our identity as people first. It is important to note that this style guide is equally applicable when talking about similarly situated populations outside of the United States.

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