A. Rafael Johnson talked about how the complicated history of the word "work" and why we need to consider its origins and current use. On AEA365.
I’m A. Rafael Johnson, Director of Creative Evaluation & Engagement, an initiative of Inspire to Change. I use the methodologies of the arts to gather, analyze, and report data for communities, arts organizations, and non-arts organizations. But I’m a writer and novelist before I’m an evaluator. Words matter to me.
For me, words carry meaning. In fact, words are a type of social contract. Words mean what societies agree they mean, such as benchmark, formative, and reliability. Each word carries a socially agreed-upon meaning that communicates values, emotions, taboos, and power relationships. Some words, such as indicator, meta-evaluation, and qualitative, withhold knowledge from some while transmitting to others.
So instead of retiring a word, I want to encourage evaluators to use a particular word to...
Hi! My name is Nora Murphy Johnson, CEO of Inspire to Change.
Our blog posts this week are written by Minnesota evaluators working in justice and equity spaces, focus on words–words to retire, discard, or include. I am writing about words that make me cringe because the “cringe” feeling is a message from my body to my brain. “STOP! Reflect on what you just said.”
Lesson Learned: Some words should make me cringe. Growing up white in the United States, I had the privilege of experiencing the English language as neutral. Many uncomfortable and regrettable experiences have taught me that language is anything but neutral. Language shapes the way I see, think about, talk about, and experience our world. When I don’t interrogate the roots and multiple meanings of words, I risk being complicit in...