Drop the I-Word Campaign

Colorlines.com and the Applied Research Center present “Drop the I-Word,” a public education campaign driven by immigrants and diverse communities across the country to eradicate the racially charged slur “illegals” from everyday use and public and political discourse. The “i-word” opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful respectful debate on immigration. No human being is “illegal.”

In a recent public talk at UW-Madison, Jose Antonio Vargas shared his story as an activist and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who has come out as an undocumented immigrant. He says, “When you call another human being illegal, you lose touch of humanity…immigration is the most provocative issue that people understand the least…We need to take back the language.”

The campaign calls on media outlets and elected officials to drop the i-word. Systems like mass media and government have normalized the term. This dehumanizing labelo make it easier to discriminate against immigrants and people of color, deny people basic human rights through written and unwritten rules. It ignores unjust laws.

The movement has attracted a broad-based coalition of endorsing organizations and a growing number of media outlets have pledged to stop using the word “illegals” in their journalism. Follow the campaign and sign the pledge here.  You can also access the online campaign toolkit to get key information, activities, and actions.

Colorlines.com is an investigative reporting and news analysis site that explicitly confronts structural racism to address societal challenges. The site is produced by a multiracial team of writers and published by the Applied Research Center (ARC), a racial justice think tank that uses media, research, and activism to promote solutions. This Thursday, October 18, Rinku Sen, the Executive Director of ARC, will give a public talk and Q&A about electoral politics and racial justice from 7-9pm in the Pyle Center’s AT&T Lounge.

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