Oxford Dictionary Appropriates Black Culture

August 30th 2014

Alece Oxendine

Oxford-English Dictionary’s more modern arm Oxford Dictionary has added some words and phrases to reflect popular culture. Some of those additions include clickbait, adorbs, amazeballs, and throw shade. Most of the additions are just buzzy marketing words and words lifted from basic bitch vernacular (See what I did there: threw shade)

See the full list here

Not to take away from other interesting additions (tech-savvy, acquihire, mansplain), I noticed that some of these words were appropriated from black culture. For example, “throw shade” is appropriated from black and latino gay culture (Paris is Burning, anyone?) and has been around for well over 20 years. Black culture has been appropriated into mainstream culture since the Oxford Dictionary has been around. It’s one thing to appreciate, but it’s an entirely different thing to appropriate. Or perhaps the dictionary just wants some attention. 

Oxford Dictionary’s process of validating these words feels arbitrary; maybe it's just for a good game of Scrabble? Personally I’ll stick with Urban Dictionary. It’s way more informative of popular culture. You know when someone younger than you uses a slang word and you resort to Urban Dictionary at the risk of looking uncool? Thanks #UD!