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Message Rick Lanahan

We use them every day to describe nouns (person, places, animals or things). When we use them to describe places, animals or things, then most of us use colorful words (attributes). When we use colorful words to describe people, then sometimes it can offend people.

The other day I was speaking with a very articulate young man at a local Starbucks while he was on his break. I said to him, "I love your pirate look". He wore a blue paisley bandanna to hold his dreadlocks back. He took what I said well and we started talking about various topics including TV series and exercise. We talked about "Game of Thrones" and how well the author develops the characters and plot. I said that I enjoyed the TV series "Outlander" for the same reasons. I especially liked how the author bridges two time periods, showing the prejudices that the people of each period had to deal with and how they had to overcome them.

Later we talked about exercising. I indicated that I believe it is important for people to exercise because it often give them confidence as they build strength and sculpt their bodies. I went on to say that I saw a woman that was in terrific shape and that "I learned a new exercise from her". Now....if I said it just like that, then I wouldn't be writing this today. Instead, I referred to the woman as a young black woman that was in terrific shape and that I learned a new exercise from her. Little does she know that she also taught me that some attributes are not necessary to convey the same thought.

Are their attributes that you use to describe people that are really not necessary or can be misinterpreted as being offensive?

Like the biases in the two time periods in the show "Outlander", are their any biases that we can learn from in this time period?

Do you use attributes to describe people because of the region of the world and time period in which you grew up?

It is human to make mistakes. Are you correcting your mistakes or recognizing when you do make a mistake?


In my career, I have held many positions. One of them was a Data Modeler. One of my objectives was to make sure that we captured the appropriate data in database tables. Each table was an entity (noun) that described a particular part of the business like a person or employee. The key to identifying the entity was always a unique key like social security number or employee ID. The person's nationality, position, salary level, marital status, race are referred to as attributes that further describes the entity (person).

I understand that we need to capture and monitor the attribute called "Race" because we need ensure that we are providing an equal opportunity for everyone. I look forward to the day when we can eliminate this attribute and reference everyone as members of the "Human Race".

Some businesses and government databases use the attribute called "Marital Status".

Should Marital Status be either "Married" or "Single"?

Do the other statuses have a bias associated to them?

Are they really necessary? Do they provide more benefits to those that are married or widowed; or used to label others for failed marriages or that they are the main income winner?



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A former conservative turned independent. I tend to lean with Progressives. My more recent articles are written to give readers an insight, but not to take a particular position necessarily. The goal is to get readers to use critical thinking (more...)

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