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NABJ Style Guide S-T
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Sambo: Historically, term was used to describe a happy black slave. Today, it is an offensive term. Do not use in copy.

Scottsboro case: In 1931, two white women stepped from a train box car in Paint Rock, Ala., and falsely accused nine black teenagers of rape while on the train. The case became a cause celebre and a symbol of racism and injustice in the South; the teenagers came to be known as the Scottsboro Nine or Scottsboro Boys. After several retrials, worldwide protests, two Supreme Court rulings, four of the nine were freed after six years in jail. In 1976, Gov. George Wallace pardoned all nine.

Sea Islands: Low-lying chain of more than 100 sandy islands off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, extending between the Santee and St. Johns rivers and along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. Considered the center of Gullah culture, the islands became home to many former slaves, similar to the maroon colonies in Jamaica and other areas. Islands within the boundaries of South Carolina include Parris Island, Port Royal Island and St. Helena Island. Those within Georgia include Cumberland Island (largest in the chain), St. Simons Island and St. Catherines Island (no apostrophes) and Sea Island. Amelia Island is within Floridas boundaries. (See Gullah.)

sickle cell anemia: Inherited chronic anemia found chiefly among blacks, characterized by abnormal red blood cells. Unlike normal red cells, which are usually smooth and donut-shaped, sickle-shaped red cells cannot squeeze through small blood vessels. Instead, they stack up and cause blockages that deprive organs and tissues of oxygen-carrying blood. The disease has no cure but can be treated with drugs and or blood transfusions.

Sister, sista: Terms used to refer to a family member or an affectionate, respectful name for a church member, sorority member or another black woman. Be mindful of appropriateness in news copy. May use in quotes.

slavery: The first black African slaves in the American colonies arrived in the early 1600s. As the colonies grew, the demand for slave labor also increased. By 1750, 200,000 slaves lived in the colonies, the majority of them living and working in the South. Hundreds of thousands of slaves were brought to America during The Middle Passage and millions others died along the way. Slaves were forced to work farms and plantations, enduring brutality, cruelty, abuse and suffering. As injustices of slavery grew, resistance efforts formed, including the Underground Railroad. This secretive system of transporting slaves from safe house to safe house, helping them escape to free states or Canada, operated for years with Harriet Tubman, a former slave, as one of its leading figures. In 1861, the Civil War pitted the South, which favored slavery, against the North, which opposed it. [Several other political and economic factors also caused the conflict.] President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, declaring an end to slavery. In 1865, the 13th Amendment formally abolished slavery in the country. (See Juneteenth, Middle Passage and Underground Railroad.)

sports stereotypes: Avoid characterizations of black athletes as naturally being better than athletes of other ethnic backgrounds. Such depictions are reminiscent of slavery, when owners described their male slaves as bucks and tried to breed them with female slaves to produce superior slaves.

Southern Cross: Confederate battle flag used during the Civil War, which remains offensive to some black Americans because it represents the Confederacy and the era of slavery. The flag has a red background, with two blue stripes in a cross, and 13 white stars inside the stripes. Some have described the Southern Cross as a proud symbol of Southern heritage. The Ku Klux Klan and other racist hate groups have also appropriated it. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, more than 500 extremist groups use the Southern Cross as one of their symbols.

soul food: Items popular originally in the South and traditionally eaten by black people. The cuisine originated during slavery when slaves were given leftovers or undesirable cuts of meat by their owners, which was supplemented by vegetables the slaves grew themselves. Today, the dishes include collard greens, fried chicken, ham hocks, black-eyed peas, yams and cornbread.


Third World: Commonly used to describe underdeveloped countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. These nation's and the people there are often cast as being uncivilized or primitive. Avoid using term because of its negative connotations. Better to say developing countries. Use in quotes only if necessary.

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