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Compassionate Speech with Dr. Suzanne Wertheim

compassionate speech with suzanne wertheim

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Dr. Suzanne Wertheim is the author of The Inclusive Language Field Guide. An academic for many years, she now specializes in analyzing and addressing bias at work, helping companies like Google and Reddit promote speech that’s more inclusive and connecting. After I read Suzanne’s book, I was struck by the parallels between her work and the Buddhist ethical foundation of right speech.

In our interview, we talk about embarrassing mistakes we’ve both made in our speech, how to both forcefully and compassionately confront harmful speech, and how to recognize and transform the bias in our own language. Suzanne and I spoke for so long that it far outran our normal episode length. So, if you’d like to hear the full unedited hour and a half of our great conversation, including many specific examples of ways to speak inclusively and compassionately, check out the Skeptic’s Path YouTube channel.

[00:01:41] Scott Snibbe: Suzanne, it is a great pleasure to have the chance to interview you. We’ve been friends for a while and we both have books coming out within a few months of each other and I read your book, The Inclusive Language Field Guide, through and through. I’m excited to talk to you today about how language is changing to be more inclusive and respectful.

[00:02:07] Suzanne Wertheim: I am excited to be here. I love the journey that we’ve had with my book where you were like, I wish I could have you on the podcast. And I thought, Actually, I think my book is very Buddhist in its underlying precepts. But I’m not going to force my way on. Then as you started to read and you were like, I think I should have you on. Buddhist practices are very much part of the book. I’m so excited to talk about it with you today.

When did you first become curious about inclusive language?

group of kids talking to each other in neighborhood

[00:02:32] Scott Snibbe: I want to get to that a little later because I did see some very strong parallels with what we call right speech in Buddhism, but just to start out, I’d like to know the path that took you to writing The Inclusive Language Field Guide. Particularly, what was the moment you first got curious about inclusive language?

[00:02:51] Suzanne Wertheim: This is maybe not what you would expect to hear, but my first curiosity about conversations that went well versus not, and the rules that underlie them, is when I was five years old. I skipped kindergarten and went into first grade and I got dropped into a classroom of people who had all been in kindergarten together and I was very confused about how to insert myself appropriately in conversations. It felt like there were rules and I didn’t get them.

I had this curiosity; I was like, I have to figure out what’s going on so I can be a functioning member of this society. Very honestly, that’s when I started. I think for inclusive language we think about not offending people, not alienating people, being respectful, but here it was also just like what goes well and what doesn’t go well.

[00:03:49] Scott Snibbe: Was there a moment in your life where inclusive language had some big impact on you? I don’t know if it was a mistake or a way you helped somebody, but was there some turning point for you personally?

[00:04:01] Suzanne Wertheim: The book is a short version of my own learning journey. This is like, I started where many of my readers are coming from, Oh, they’re just being oversensitive or I wouldn’t mind if someone said it to me or these are all things that I’ve thought. I was in a fog for a long time, and then I got this education, which I continued with self-education with my research that enabled me to see patterns clearly.

With the patterns, I started to see unfairness with a clarity that I hadn’t seen before. So much unfairness, so much injustice, so many little cuts, death by a thousand cuts. By learning the patterns, learning the impact, it’s so drastically changed how I understood the world that I couldn’t not address the harm that people do in language. Harm mitigation became the cornerstone of my work.

Being an ally without calling yourself an ally

[00:05:00] Scott Snibbe: Can you share some examples from your own life of that transformation?

[00:05:03] Suzanne Wertheim: Sure, I’ve got one from the book, which still sits with me. The thing is that as you are mindful of other people, as you are attentive to other people, I think for many of us, when we inadvertently do harm, it sticks with us for so long. I’m not even sure how long this thing that I said stuck with the person I said it to.

I had a colleague who came in on a Monday and was smiley and I was like, Hey, what’s up? You look so smiley. She said, Oh, I had this really good first date. It feels really promising. I said, Oh my God, what’s he like? Then her face just shuddered and she had to think about it. Then she said, Actually, I date women. You could see her running a calculus of how trustworthy I was. I think based on all the other things I had said, she could say, Okay, I can trust her.

I was just so horribly embarrassed because there I was teaching about language. This is early enough that we weren’t saying LGBTQ+ but I was teaching about what we call heteronormative language. The world is set up in many ways and it’s slowly shifting. But the world is set up with the assumption that everybody is heterosexual. I am so grateful to her because it was such a wake up call that when I went on autopilot, I just made an assumption and the assumption was wrong. It started to alert me to the theory that I’m teaching, but how am I implementing it in my own practice?

The world is set up with the assumption that everybody is heterosexual.

[00:06:51] Scott Snibbe: It’s very kind of you to be so vulnerable sharing your stories like that. A quote from one of my favorite teachers is, As long as you call yourself a Buddhist, you are not yet a Buddha.

[00:07:04] Suzanne Wertheim: Comparatively, in the work that I do, it’s the same. I give courses on ally work. How can you move from having good intentions to actually implementing them when you see bias in action? I recommend not calling yourself an ally. It’s like calling yourself a good friend or a good lover.

I recommend not calling yourself an ally. It’s like calling yourself a good friend or a good lover.

You’re not allowed to walk around saying, I’m a good friend or I’m a good lover. That must be bestowed upon you. You can’t use the self label. Just talk about the practice, talk about doing ally work. You don’t label, you practice.

Right speech

[00:07:43] Scott Snibbe: Buddhist ethics has this core principle of right speech, it has four points. Buddhism is very good at these enumerated lists. I know you’re not a Buddhist, but can you talk a little bit about how these principles of your book overlap with these millennia old principles of how to speak compassionately?

[00:08:05] Suzanne Wertheim: Why don’t you say one principle at a time and I’ll translate them into my principles?

[00:08:09] Scott Snibbe: Speaking truthfully.

[00:08:10] Suzanne Wertheim: Reflect reality.

[00:08:11] Scott Snibbe: Speaking gently, not harshly.

[00:08:14] Suzanne Wertheim: Recognize pain points, draw people in.

[00:08:17] Scott Snibbe: Speaking to bring people together, not push them apart.

[00:08:20] Suzanne Wertheim: Draw people in.

[00:08:22] Scott Snibbe: Speaking purposefully, the nonvirtue there is gossip. It’s so incredible that we can speak from the Buddhist view. You really want to use the power of your speech for something good in the world: to bring people together, to create meaning, to help others. Speaking purposefully, that’s what that means.

You really want to use the power of your speech for something good in the world: to bring people together, to create meaning, to help others.

[00:08:42] Suzanne Wertheim: I’m just reflecting that every religious system I know has an anti-gossip principle of some kind. It’s just so human. I can’t think of one world religion that doesn’t have some kind of “let’s stop gossiping.” I would add to that, I have this principle called prevent erasure, where you’re trying to not forget about people.

There are so many kinds of people. I gave that example, I forgot about lesbians, in that moment. I didn’t forget about lesbians generally, but in that moment, I was like, What’s he like? I showed that my worldview wasn’t including the person that I was talking to.

Keeping others accountable without using hurtful language

two friends talking to each other in brightly lit living room

[00:09:22] Scott Snibbe: I was going to asking about a counterpoint to speaking gently, which is how you speak without mincing your words. You talk about language that erases others, pain lacks accountability. A very searing example is “boys will be boys.”

How do we keep others accountable without using hurtful language? When do you have to be firm and gentle, and how do you stay respectful while correcting injustice in the world?

[00:09:55] Suzanne Wertheim: I’ll talk about being kind versus being nice, I think kindness is giving accurate, constructive feedback to people, as opposed to sometimes being nice, people will swallow it, and then somebody will go about creating problems and either not know it or not care and be put in check depending on their intentionality.

I think it is a kindness for the world to speak accurately. Rather than gentleness, I’d like to frame this as what I call linguistic distortions, because I see this happening in the workplaces and I see this happening in my life and my friend’s lives. The two distortions I want to talk about are inflating language where someone who is just behaving normally, appropriately, reasonably—because of their identity, people treat that behavior as if it’s inappropriate.

Black people protesting are called rioters. Any people protesting are called rioters. It’s okay to shoot them with rubber bullets when they’re literally walking down the street holding placards—I was outlining the book during George Floyd Floyd stuff, so this was very top of mind at the moment.

Also, we find to bring it back to gender, women who complain about ill treatment are often described in inflating language: bitch, problematic, histrionic, emotional, overly emotional, oversensitive. When they might be talking about really bad stuff like sexual harassment or other kinds of things. I have so many examples of people saying to me, I brought it to HR, I brought it to my manager. They said, You’re really dramatic. You’re the problem. That’s the first distortion is inflating language.

Women who complain about ill treatment are often described in inflating language: bitch, problematic, histrionic, emotional, overly emotional, oversensitive

Then the second distortion, which is the one that boys will be boys, falls into is what I call softening language, where people will describe problematic behavior as if it’s okay. This is usually used for people with power, like a boss, manager, somebody high up in an organization, a misbehaving C suite person, or people with social power because they belong to dominant groups. This is a cycle too, by somebody saying, Hey, there’s a problem, that person gets described as the problem.

Then the person who’s really doing bad stuff is like, Oh, he’s a good guy. Or, Boys will be boys. Or, He has good intentions. Or, She didn’t really mean it that way. Or, She’s just trying to be a good boss. Speaking gently is to call out those distortions and say, Aren’t we being inaccurate?

I find that this call for precision really helps me with skeptical people. Because from an engineering perspective, if you can’t see the problem, how are you going to design the fix for it? What I see again and again in companies is people will lose high performing people because of a bully. A thing that I struggle with, and many of my friends struggle with, is how do you have compassion for somebody who clearly has had a difficult life or been harmed in some way and so they’re like spraying out acid or they’re punching you, verbally or physically. Usually it’s verbally, some kind of emotional abuse comes your way.

How do you have compassion while still protecting yourself from them? That’s when I think being accurate about your language can help you make a decision. When do I just need to step away from somebody because they’re so problematic that it’s not worth my effort to try to fix them? When am I allowed to save myself by stepping away and be compassionate from far away?

[00:14:06] Scott Snibbe: Yeah, the Buddhist definition of compassion is wanting others not to suffer. It doesn’t mean being a punching bag or allowing yourself to suffer. The most compassionate thing in a situation where someone is abusing you, from a Buddhist perspective, is to get the heck out of that situation. For both of your benefits. For yours, because you’re being abused. And for theirs, because it’s very bad for them to abuse.

The most compassionate thing in a situation where someone is abusing you, from a Buddhist perspective, is to get the heck out of that situation.

On the same front, I want to ask you about racist language. This is a very sensitive issue, obviously. People say racist things. There’s very overt racist things, and then there’s racist comments due to implicit bias, which you talk a lot about. You’re very kind in your book, because you talk a lot about how people usually cause pain because they don’t realize how their words are landing.

How do you modulate? What’s the best way to correct people in a way that’s going to land and be effective?

[00:15:02] Suzanne Wertheim: It’s funny, here’s a paradox I sit with a lot. In the U. S. being called racist is one of the worst things that you can be called and yet so few people actively work to change their language and behavior to ensure that they’re not called racist. It’s so interesting to me. I wonder sometimes if it isn’t fear-based paralysis.

I am very kind in my writing and in my talks. One thing I do is work to avoid language that triggers people and creates resistance, anger and stress responses. In my workshops, in my private life, in my articles, I recommend avoiding using a label for anybody’s behavior. This is my number one recommendation. I reported a real story where somebody was told something racist and she’s like, Oh my God, stop saying Kung Flu, it’s racist. I actually recommend never saying “racist” to somebody.

Never call someone homophobic. Don’t call somebody transphobic. Don’t call somebody racist. Don’t call somebody sexist. Because none of it works. The label will trigger this terrible stress response. I personally have all kinds of problems with critical feedback just because of how I was raised. I wasn’t raised with a healthy model of constructive criticism. Criticism of any kind will trigger strong responses in my body. I’m always saying this in my workshops. I’m like, you don’t know who comes from a background of abuse or a background of unhealthy critical communication. Even your gentle things might be difficult.

Never call someone homophobic. Don’t call somebody transphobic. Don’t call somebody racist. Don’t call somebody sexist. Because none of it works.

If you’re being critiqued for your language and you’re having a stress response, one thing I’d like to recommend is take a few days to process. It can take up to 48 hours for chemicals like adrenaline and cortisol to leave your body after a stress response. I say take a minimum of two days to let it process because when you’ve got stress chemicals flooding your body, guess what’s not working great? Your brain and decision-making, like, should I shift and be open to something new? That’s not happening.

[00:17:23] Scott Snibbe: With these guidelines on avoiding some of these trigger words like racism, are these applied across the board? What if you’re a person who’s part of a marginalized community and so on?

[00:17:33] Suzanne Wertheim: This is an excellent question. I want to talk about the difference between in-group discussions and out-group discussions. In-group, where people have safe spaces, you can use whatever language you want. You can use shorthands, you can use advanced terminology, you can vent, you can say all kinds of things, because it’s meant to be a safe space to get it out. Then, when you’re talking to somebody in the out-group who might not understand the perspective, for whom it might be new—some people are at a negative starting point. Where you have to even bring them to a place. This is where I recommend being very careful with your language and using things like the concrete principles.

 I was TAing in Berkeley as a young grad student and I saw resistance body language when I was just giving peer-reviewed scientific information about gender bias or racial bias in language. This has been a problem that I’ve been attacking in various ways and throwing things up and seeing if they stick. How can you get people to see the real problems of the world without creating defense mechanisms? How can you bypass the resistance? You’re genuinely persuasive.

Where is the boundary between safety and discomfort?

boy distancing himself from friends wearing headphones

[00:18:56] Scott Snibbe: It’s a very compassionate approach to get people to hear your message. Where is that boundary though between safety and discomfort?

[00:19:04] Suzanne Wertheim: That’s an excellent question because a lot of people don’t ever want to feel uncomfortable. Period. They will claim things like they’re being made to be unsafe, when you’re just trying to give constructive feedback. It can be about anything. There are a lot of people who are just resistant to feedback and being told, you are creating problems with your behavior, and behavior can be words.

Often there are tears, then you have to go comfort them, and they become the center. That’s a very common thing. Or being angry. A very common thing that happens is called DARVO: defend, argue, reverse victim, and offender. This happens again and again when people feel discomfort. They will often claim you’re the problem, I’m not the problem. Why are you attacking me? I’m just here doing my job or trying to be a good parent or trying to be a good friend.

I think about growth mentality a lot. This is a concept that comes from a Stanford psychologist named Carol Dweck. Growth mentality says that people can learn, grow, and change, they’re not fixed. I like growth mentality, I’ll talk about it a lot for people who are presumed incompetent or under recognized. Growth mentality is an important part of inclusive hiring, for example. Just because somebody doesn’t have a Stanford Computer Science degree doesn’t mean they’re not going to end up coding well for your company. Some people have been cultivated in their lives and some people haven’t been cultivated.

Growth mentality says that people can learn, grow, and change, they’re not fixed.

Just because someone hasn’t been cultivated doesn’t mean that they won’t flourish like a plant given fertilizer, water, and sun. It’s a similar thing with people, but a lot of people are told by society that they’re on top so they don’t have a growth mentality for themselves. The problem with the safety issue is that people can become rigid, angry, fearful, and attack. You have to think about if you’re a person trying to talk through somebody who is, either doing DARVO and becoming defensive and saying you’re the offender or is weaponizing their need to stay safe at all times and saying, it’s my right to be comfortable.

In learning and development, the only way to grow and learn is by having a period of being uncomfortable. A safe space is not a learning space. A safe space is an all-you-already-know it’s space and then you can push people. Some people for whatever reason, get pushed really far into a freeze space or they refuse to hear and they move themselves into the freeze space.

In learning and development, the only way to grow and learn is by having a period of being uncomfortable.

But the space that we really want to be in, as much as we can, is that uncomfortable pushing-the-edge space. The more you can help people do it, or be in that place yourself, the better. If you’re having an uncomfortable reaction, it’s good to self interrogate and say, Am I uncomfortable because I think I’m a good person and I feel like I’m being told I’m not a good person? Because so many people can’t take constructive feedback of any kind; they freeze and retreat. Then they’re doing the ultimate disservices to themselves because you end up being left behind by people who give up on you.

How do we keep our language colorful without insulting people?

[00:22:49] Scott Snibbe: Some of the things in your book, gratefully, I rarely hear in my personal and professional circles anymore. But something I do hear a lot in everyday speech are the intensifiers you talk about drawn from mental health terms like crazy good, she has OCD, I’m having a senior moment, schizo, psycho, or mad skills. These are very popular phrases still in culture, can you talk a little bit about that? People have reactions of giving up the color of these phrases, it can feel hard to some people.

Can you talk about how to deal with this and also how to keep our language colorful without insulting and hurting people?

[00:23:36] Suzanne Wertheim: In the U.S. and many other English speaking places, we have this tendency to use mental health terminology for people who are mentally ill or mental health issues to intensify something. It’s human nature to want to use a shocking word when you want to show how strong something is. Intensifiers are one of the very few grammar words that actually shift a lot in a language. In most languages, grammar words are pretty stable. We don’t come up with new numbers. We don’t come up with new prepositions. But intensifiers shift really quickly because there’s this human desire to have very strong words.

One of our strongest curses, fucking, is used as an intensifier a lot. We have almost no infixes in English, when you stick something in the middle of the word, but fucking is one of the few ones that you do say fan-fucking-tastic. Because it’s surprising, because it’s a strong word, and because there’s this desire to amplify.

Mental health issues are so stigmatized, have been stigmatized, are currently stigmatized, and will continue to be stigmatized for the foreseeable future, those words have an element of being very edgy and very strong. Also, there’s often an element of being out of control, about being outside of the boundaries of what’s defined as strictly acceptable. The problem is that—and this was a learning journey for me—people really get hurt. Especially because mental health issues are so stigmatized and can be very imperceptible.

Even lately, this is hard for me to get rid of my own thing of like, “Oh, I’m going crazy. This thing is driving me crazy. I’m going to kill myself.” It may just feel like you saying, This is an out of control situation. But for a person whose sibling just died by suicide, it’s quite bad. My recommendation is to find alternatives that you feel okay with. You can actually get more precise.

A lot of people will use it in their employee experience interviews to describe a bad manager or a bad boss. She’s psycho, she’s schizo, she’s always changing her mind. If you get more precise, Oh, she’s so unpredictable, she’s so temperamental, she can really change her mind so quickly. We also have ableist language like fall on deaf ears or blind to the situation, which implies that people who can’t see are making bad decisions or people who can’t hear are making bad decisions. It’s actually about bad decision making or not being attentive.

So if we get more precise we’re probably going to lose some color, we’re definitely going to lose intensity. I’m very sorry. Go for regular intensifiers. There’s a long list because we’ve been adding intensifiers in English for a really long time. You can move so far beyond variant really. There’s so many of them, I find that you lose the intensity, but you gain precision for what is really the problem that’s bothering you.

[00:27:13] Scott Snibbe: When I first looked at the table in the back of your book, there were a couple things that either rubbed me the wrong way, or I felt like disappointed to lose language. One of them was the issue of sanity check, and then its replacement being check. I was like, Is there a way? Then I thought, Maybe a preflight check, like there is a way to maintain color and be respectful around these mental health issues.

[00:27:43] Suzanne Wertheim: In the back of the book, I give a list of suggested substitutions, but I tried to caveat it a lot and I have to say that for me, there are some things that I still have a hard time removing from my language. Sanity check is not one that I’ve used, but there are some other ones I can’t think offhand.

The problem with looking at the table before you read the book is if I’ve done such a careful job of taking you through what I had to learn in order to get to the place where I’m making a recommendation, that I think a lot of people are like, Oh, you’re going to make people angry.

First of all, I don’t like being told what to do and if somebody tells me what to do, my immediate response is to be resistant and say, Well, why? I come to your podcast as a skeptic, I come to the world as a skeptic, and I’m like, Well, tell me why, don’t just tell me, don’t just tell me I saw it in a vision or I talked to it, lay it out for me.

I was very hesitant to put a table in with just like “do and don’t,” especially because people say to me, just tell me what to say and what to not say. I’m like, I can’t do it because it’s so context specific. But then there are some things that I’m like, Okay, this is off the table now. I think that whenever you make a change to be more careful of somebody else, you lose something. You lose a certain freedom.There’s a way in which there’s always a balance. You lose the ability to go as freely on autopilot as you might be able to. There’s a reason why we do what’s called style-shifting. We shift around and we speak differently to different kinds of people.

Autistic and allistic communicatiom

[00:29:42] Scott Snibbe: There was something in your book that struck me very personally because my sister is autistic. The ways you talk about autism are ways I haven’t seen as much compared to some of the other issues in your book. I’ll illustrate this with a story.

The way my sister speaks seems quite strange to your average person. I was with a friend who had never met her, who found out she was an artist. He said to my sister, Who’s your favorite artist? My sister said, Myself. That’s very charming to me, as her brother and understanding how her mind and brain work. But most people would consider that egotistic, insensitive. You talk about this in your book.

Can you talk a little bit about how working and relating to autistic people and respecting the different way that they think?

[00:30:35] Suzanne Wertheim: Sure, I want to preface this by saying that I’m deeply embarrassed by how badly my academic fields have failed to study systematic principles of autistic communication and compare them to what we call allistic communication. You can’t just say neurotypical and neurodivergent because there are people who are neurodivergent who don’t pattern the way that autistic people pattern. You have to be very specifically autistic versus not.

For my work, I’ve consulted with two linguistic grad students who are autistic and studying autistic communication for their graduate degrees. I was able to fix things that are wrong with what I used to say even four or five years ago. I used to say very confidently, human beings all this, human beings all that, human communication is this, human communication is that. I really, taking my own medicine, was doing a bad job. I was doing a great job of erasure. I was doing a bad job reflecting the realities of the world because the idea that allistic communication is universal and represents everybody isn’t true at all.

I was doing a bad job reflecting the realities of the world because the idea that allistic communication is universal and represents everybody isn’t true at all.

One of the biggest things is the difference between text and subtext or being very literal and being filled with hints. I’m allistic, I love language that’s filled with subtext. I love dramas that are filled with subtext. I watch a lot of Korean dramas and Korean communication is often very subtext based. Japanese stuff is even more subtext based. It’s really fun for me to try to tease out, Oh, what did that guy really mean when he said this thing? What all the implications? For an autistic brain, those implications can be completely invisible. What we find is that autistic people tend to be very literal.

squid games korean drama show

All of the stories in my book are real stories, if they’re not public stories, I anonymize them a little bit. One story is an autistic man is quitting his job and on the last day there’s a little get together and his boss says to him, Are you sad it’s your last day of work? He said, “no.” Everybody laughed like it’s a joke, but this was no joke. He took it very literally. Are you sad to be leaving? Literal answer: no. I’m happy to leave. For an allistic person, that feels like a joke or an insult.

I lurk on a lot of autistic forums, like autistic subreddits, to see how autistic people are talking to each other about the problems that they’re facing. What I see again and again in the workplace and in friend groups is people feel very ostracized, very misunderstood. They feel like people see them as harsh or mean or making jokes when they’re not. They’re just playing according to the rules of their neurotype. This is what communication is. People are playing with a completely different set of rules and we’re getting this clash.

There’s somebody at my publisher who every time this person emails me, I have felt very offended. Every single time, he has managed to offend me. I went and looked at LinkedIn posts and other things and I’m like, Oh, actually I think this is patterning as a spectrumy way of writing. I pulled a lot of negative implications out of his stuff. Once I read it from an autistic literal lens, I felt a lot better about it. I don’t want to armchair diagnose anybody. This is a thing that happens a lot, I see autistic people complaining about armchair diagnoses that somebody’s on the spectrum.

But having said that, if you just want to relook and say, Is this person being literal? Am I pulling hints out that aren’t there? I think that can facilitate a lot. With your sister, why create art if you don’t love the art you’re creating? From a very literal perspective, if you don’t love what you’re doing, especially if it’s art, why do it?

What do you still want to learn about inclusive language?

[00:35:09] Scott Snibbe: Exactly, love yourself. My last question for you, Suzanne, is what you still want to learn about inclusive language?

[00:35:17] Suzanne Wertheim: Nobody has asked me this. That’s a good question. I have to figure out how to get plugged in to younger people now that I’m not teaching at university anymore. I left in 2011 and I had access to younger norms and ways of speaking and shifting values. I have to figure out how to get better access to that again.

One of the most searched articles on my website is gender neutral sir or ma’am. People are searching and like 800 people a month come to my website from Google searching for it. The answer is, We don’t got one yet, best of luck. I think people are going to come in in grassroots ways, natural ways, not like what we call language engineering, where you’ve got a top down decision and people make a top down decision and implement it.

But in more grassroots ways, I think people are going to be coming up with really good solutions for things that people in our generation are struggling with. That’s what I want to learn. I just have to figure out how to get better plugged in because I think that people will say things like black women will save us or the young people will save us or the new generations will save us. I think we all have to save ourselves.

I think we all have to save ourselves.

But when people are coming with a a different set of constraints than I grew up with it enables them to come up with creative solutions that wouldn’t occur to me. I would like to have us all benefit from the creativity and generosity and better reflection of reality that I’m finding in many younger people in this country today.

[00:37:17] Scott Snibbe: For you and I, we see a revolution in language over the past 30 years. For them, it’s the baseline, and it can be greatly improved. That’s a great answer. Well, Suzanne, I loved this conversation with you. Thank you so much. I’ve learned a lot, I was delighted, and I really appreciate your time and the care you took in writing such a fantastic book, The Inclusive Language Field Guide.

[00:37:44] Suzanne Wertheim: Thank you so much for having me. This has been a genuine pleasure to have this conversation with you. Really, thank you so much.


Hosted by Scott Snibbe

Produced by Annie Ngyen

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