August 8, 2018
More and more people are using the singular “they” to be inclusive of gender non-conforming individuals, but its use goes back further in history than some may realize. The first singular “they” ever recorded can be found in a fairy tale circa 1375—but it’s likely it was used in speech for a long time before that. In the 18th century, grammarians started to claim that the singular “they” was incorrect, disregarding the fact that the singular “you” was also once considered incorrect. In 1660, George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, wrote an entire book about how people should use “thou” and “thee” and not the singular “you”—but it was too late. The use of “you” gained in popularity, and later, anyone who was still using “thou” and “thee” was considered out of touch. The same linguistic development is happening today with the singular “they.” Just as the singular “you” is now unremarkable, the singular “they” might be on its way to becoming the norm as well.
Dr. Andre Perry, a David M. Rubenstein Fellow at the Brookings Institution, says researchers and advocates have to stop “begging [technology] companies to let black people in the door.” He says a better approach to diversifying the tech industry is shifting the focus from majority-white, west-coast cities—where tech is currently thriving—to majority-Black cities that boast high percentages of Black STEM graduates. Dr. Perry outlines the benefits of such an approach: “Cities that can show how they are free of barriers such as discrimination, which stunts economic growth, and encourage diversity, will be at an advantage as compared to other cities.” He adds that inclusive companies in such cities attract high-quality talent, make better products, and are better equipped to serve ever more diverse consumer markets because “they allow for a plurality of perspectives.”
Come November elections, former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairwoman Debra Haaland could be the first Native American woman to serve in Congress. Following her win in the primaries back in June, she is now campaigning against Republican Janice Arnold Jones and Libertarian Lloyd Princeton to fill Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham’s seat. Haaland is “one of a record number of Native American women running for office this year—a record number of women among a record number of Native American candidates.” This swell in indigenous political representation is attributed in part to rising concerns over the Trump Administration’s policies. Haaland’s campaign will focus on healthcare, education, and environmental policy. She also has plans to address the U.S. government’s approach to treaties and trusts, which affect Native people in particular. Of her possible tenure in Congress, Haaland says, “I’m going to make sure I do everything…I can to make sure that those voices are at the table and their perspectives are considered when any policy that [affects] Indian tribes [is] put forth.”