NASA drops nicknames of racially charged celestial bodies

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Grocery stores, professional sports teams, and country music groups have all removed the race-insensitive names.

Now NASA is adding celestial bodies to the list which includes Aunt Jemima, the Washington football team and hitmakers The Chicks and Lady A.

“Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy” came out, for example.

“Nicknames are often more accessible and accessible to the public than the official names of cosmic objects, such as Barnard 33, whose nickname ‘the horse’s head nebula’ refers to its appearance,” NASA said in a statement this morning. week. “But often seemingly innocuous nicknames can be harmful and undermine science. ”

NASA is examining its use of phrases for planets, galaxies and other cosmic objects “as part of its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The space agency says it “will only use official designations from the International Astronomical Union in cases where the nicknames are inappropriate.”

Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Science Missions Directorate in Washington, DC, said, “Science is for everyone and every facet of our work should reflect this value. ”

In June, Dreyer Grand Ice Cream said he was abandoning the “Eskimo Pie” brand after a century. The word is commonly used in Alaska to refer to Inuit and Yupik, according to the Alaska Native Language Center at the University of Alaska. “This name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit and meant ‘raw meat eater.’ The people of Canada and Greenland prefer other names.

“Siamese twins” is an outdated phrase for Siamese twins, based on brothers from Siam (now Thailand) who were used as show monsters in the 19th century.

The name change trend followed global protests against racism and police brutality after George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police.

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