After years of controversy over birds being named after individuals connected to racism and slavery, one of America’s premier bird science and conservation organizations, the American Ornithological Society (AOS), will be abolishing human-related bird names. "The AOS commits to changing all English-language names of birds within its geographic jurisdiction that are named directly after people (eponyms), along with other names deemed offensive and exclusionary, focusing first on those species that occur primarily within the U.S. or Canada," the AOS announced on Wednesday about its English Bird Names Project. AOS President Colleen Handel, Ph.D., declared in a public statement, "There is power in a name, and some English bird names have associations with the past that continue to be exclusionary and harmful today." She went on to write, "We need a much more inclusive and engaging scientific process that focuses attention on the unique features and beauty of the birds themselves. Everyone who loves and cares about birds should be able to enjoy and study them freely—and birds need our help now more than ever." Another high ranking of the organization spoke about the initiative as well. WASHINGTON POST REPORTER TROUBLED BY 'RACIST LEGACY' OF SOME BIRDS "As scientists, we work to eliminate bias in science. But there has been historic bias in how birds are named, and who might have a bird named in their honor. Exclusionary naming conventions developed in the 1800s, clouded by racism and misogyny, don’t work for us today, and the time has come for us to transform this process and redirect the focus to the birds, where it belongs," AOS Executive Director and CEO Judith Scarl, Ph.D., said. "I am proud to be part of this new vision and am excited to work in partnership with a broad array of experts and bird lovers in creating an inclusive naming structure." "Sometime next year, the society is expected to appoint a committee to explore up to 80 new names," the Washington Post (The Post) reported. The same piece noted, "The group said it will prioritize birds whose names trace to enslavers, white supremacists and robbers of Indigenous graves. Among them is one of the most famous birders in U.S. history, John James Audubon." Audubon, according to the society named after him, "enslaved Black people and wrote critically about emancipation. He stole human remains and sent the skulls to a colleague who used them to assert that whites were superior to non-whites." Both Audubon’s shearwater and Audubon’s oriole are currently still named after him. Racial controversies in modern times have reportedly spurred bird enthusiasts to take action. BIRD DROPPING: PORTLAND CONSERVATION GROUP ABANDONS ‘AUDUBON’ OVER HISTORY OF ‘RACISM’ "We have seen a lot of changes in our world in the recent past," Sara Morris, the AOS' president-elect, said, reportedly referring to the wave of protests that occurred after the death of George Floyd. "For the time being, birders of color who spot the Townsend’s warbler and the Townsend’s solitaire might be startled by the history of its namesake, John Kirk Townsend," The Post wrote. "His journals describe his collection of skulls, stolen from the graves of Native people in the 1800s, to promote his theory that they were racially inferior." ROBERT E. LEE STATUE MELTED IN SECRET, 'SYMBOLIC' CEREMONY, TO BE REMADE INTO 'INCLUSIVE' PUBLIC ART The Post also cited that Bachman’s sparrow and Bachman’s warbler are named after naturalist and Lutheran minister John Bachman and quoted one of his speeches, "That the Negro will remain as he is, unless his form is changed by an amalgamation, which ... is revolting to us. That his intellect ... is greatly inferior to that of the Caucasian, and that he is, therefore ... incapable of self-government. That he is thrown to our protection. That our defense of slavery is contained within the Holy scriptures." But rejecting the concept of birds named after humans goes beyond removing the memory of controversial figures. To some, it is about removing the association with White people themselves. The same piece also quoted Bird Names for Birds group founder Jordan Rutter in a 2021 interview, noting, "White people are credited for discovering [the birds]. White people were the ones to name the birds after other White people. And White people are still the folks that are perpetuating these names." Others have argued that naming birds after anybody implies problematic ownership of a species. "They imply possession of a species," Erica Nol, co-chair of the society’s Ad Hoc Committee on English Bird Names said. "They are overwhelmingly from a particular time and social fabric, they are almost all White men, few women, and women were almost all first names. Our main goal was to increase the birdwatching public." For more Culture, Media, Education, Opinion, and channel coverage, visit foxnews.com/media.
02 Kasım 2023 - 02:00
Prominent bird group to rename avians connected to racism, slavery, 'robbers of Indigenous graves'
The American Ornithological Society announced it is moving forward in renaming many birds because of their association with people deemed racist by today's standards.
02 Kasım 2023 - 02:00