And it is all happening in North America.
The wake of global Black Lives Matter protests woke up many other souls, and the NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association) is now reviewing the whole list of allowed words in order to understand wether to eliminate and ban for good, all those racist, homophobic and transphobic slurs.
John Chew, NASPA CEO, wrote a letter – that you can read here – to the association’s advisory board, where he said:
“I have felt for a long time that there are some words in our lexicon that we hang onto in the mistaken belief that our spelling them with tiles on a board strips them of their power to cause harm. […] I am thinking specifically of those words which are used primarily as slurs: that is, words that are used to label someone as being of less value than the speaker based on some innate trait such as gender, race or sexual orientation – not words that are used to cause offence on scatological, prurient, profane or other grounds. […] When we play a slur, we are declaring that our desire to score points in a word game is of more value to us than the slur’s broader function as a way to oppress a group of people.”
This did not stop here, in fact Chew told Reuters:
“We are told when we get for the first time to a Scrabble club or tournament that words have no meaning on a Scrabble board. Most people accept that without question. Some people find they cannot accept … the ‘n-word’ being treated as though it has no meaning. […] Those people end up not being part of our community, which is the fundamental problem we’re trying to address.”
NASPA is not alone in this fight, as also The World English Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) is considering whether to remove slurs from its official dictionary.
It looks like it is going to be a well played game!