The heart-wrenching events of the last few weeks and resulting protests and social reflection have launched a collective awakening about racism in the United States.
This article will present common phrases with racist origins that have crept into business discourse. Likely, you are unaware of the origin of these terms -- many were unfamiliar to us as well before studying the phrases' etymology.
Language is an evolving organism that reflects history and culture. Words have the power to disarm racism or arm it. Let’s look at terms we all must eliminate:
Sold Down the River
Today, if someone "sells you down the river" in a business deal, he or she betrays or cheats you. However, the phrase has a much more sinister meaning and literally refers to the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.
During slavery in the US, slaves would be sold at slave-trading marketplaces and "sold down the river" and transported to the cotton plantations in states further south.