Duluth, MN – Duluth city leaders are considering banning the word “chief” from city job titles in order to avoid potentially offending indigenous people.
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson said during a press conference on Wednesday that dropping the word “chief” from job titles would create “more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization,” the Star Tribune reported.
Larson urged the Duluth City Council to approve the measure when it comes before them on June 22.
If approved, the word “chief” will be swapped out for other verbiage, such as “director” or “administrator,” according to the Star Tribune.
The mayor said that the city is also considering renaming the fire and police chiefs’ positions, but that they haven’t figured out an appropriate terms for those jobs as of yet.
Duluth Community Relations Officer Alicia Kozlowski, who is a member of the Grand Portage and Fond du Lac Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa, said she supports Larson’s push to amend the city’s job titles.
According to Kozlowski, the word “chief” can be used as “a racial epithet, and it turns into a microaggression,” the Star Tribune reported.
“I think that there are other titles that we have the opportunity to use to steer away from language that may put people down based off their race or culture,” Kozlowski added.
Although no residents have brought up concerns about using the word “chief” in the city’s job titles, Kozlowski said that the city wanted to be sure to address it before anyone realizes that they could be offended by it.
Larson said the title change is just one way she is pushing the municipality to become “more inclusive, more reflective, more accurate, and more modern,” the Star Tribune reported.
She has also called on the city’s legal foundation to incorporate more “gender-neutral language to better reflect that the mayor is not always going to be a man.”