In February, something amazing happened out of San Francisco. The bright blue city overwhelmingly recalled three school board members. It wasn't just because of the anti-Asian racism from member Alison Collins, but also the handling of school closures over the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic and renaming schools, with figures such as George Washington and Abraham Lincoln being deemed too controversial. The latest move the school district is making shows lessons might not have been learned after all. As Sam Whiting with the San Francisco Chronicle reported, job titles in the district will no longer contain the word of "chief."
"While there are many opinions on the matter, our leadership team agreed that, given that Native American members of our community have expressed concerns over the use of the title, we are no longer going to use it," a district spokesperson, Gentle Blythe, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "By changing how we refer to our division heads we are in no way diminishing the indispensable contributions of our district central service leaders," Blythe also said, confirming they were not being demoted.
Cultural sensitivities and such appeasement tactics are not new for the district. "The elimination of the term is not the only action the school district has taken to appease some members of the local Native American community. Every school district board meeting begins with a 'land acknowledgment' in which the board reads a statement 'that recognizes the Indigenous peoples who have been dispossessed from the homelands and territories upon which the District is built, currently occupies and operates in,'" Jeremiah Poff noted for The Washington Examiner.
A replacement term has not been issued.
Omgosh, they don’t even know the origination of the word. It’s not native ??— Kambree (@KamVTV) May 26, 2022
But native Americans did not originally speak English. They had/ have their own languages. Chief is an English word.— Fiona (@DerryBanShee) May 26, 2022
You did it, you solved racism pic.twitter.com/W1yL88LkZw— Billy Gribbin (@BillyGribbin) May 26, 2022
it’s much easier to put out press releases than educate students.— Perspicuous (@chaos_sonata) May 26, 2022
The San Francisco Chronicle tweeted out the story on Wednesday night. As of Thursday afternoon, it has over 3,600 replies. Of the 2,009 retweets, 1,784 are quoted retweets mocking the name change. Many people pointed out that the origin of "chief" is French.
One more etymologically ridiculous language tweak and we’re going to have this social justice thing sorted https://t.co/4paEiLFA0y— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) May 26, 2022
Thank you. Now fold that racist Kansas City football team. https://t.co/yvD220sH5J— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) May 26, 2022
"Chief" is also the name of the Kansas City Chiefs, which has no plans to change its team name, though an entire Wikipedia Page dedicated to the "Kansas City Chiefs name controversy," as part of a series on "Discrimination" noted that the team has made changes when it comes to headdresses and Native American face paint being banned from Arrowhead Stadium.