[R] [EXT] Re: Inappropriate color name

Andrew Robinson @pro @end|ng |rom un|me|b@edu@@u
Fri Nov 20 00:15:31 CET 2020

I see a lot of reasoning in this thread that I consider specious at best.

What seems clear to me, writing as a cis-gendered grey white male, is that we need to make more room.  How do we do this?  We do it by listening, reflecting, and responding.  If words that we use are hurtful, then we must change them.  This process will not be perfect. It will be messy.  Our feelings may be hurt, our principles outraged. Treasured words may disappear. That is how we make room.

I find appeals to etymology to be irrelevant. History is rife with examples of innocent symbols and words being co-opted.  We abandon those symbols and words, rightly, because the taint clings to them, rightly or wrongly.

I find appeals to broad usage to also be irrelevant.  Change starts where and when we all decide that it starts.  The R community is its own thing.

Finally, I find appeals to stakeholder group size to be irrelevant. The point is not to count the people who won't be offended.

Here's a personal example: more than 10 years ago, a co-author and I submitted a package to CRAN that was designed to make R a little easier to use.  We called it R-assist.  It sailed through all the checks, and was published on CRAN.  We were then besieged with complaints from native German speakers.  So we changed the name.

Best wishes,


Andrew Robinson
Director, CEBRA and Professor of Biosecurity,
School/s of BioSciences and Mathematics & Statistics
University of Melbourne, VIC 3010 Australia
Tel: (+61) 0403 138 955
Email: apro using unimelb.edu.au
Website: https://researchers.ms.unimelb.edu.au/~apro@unimelb/

I acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land I inhabit, and pay my respects to their Elders.
On Nov 20, 2020, 9:28 AM +1100, Heinz Tuechler <tuechler using gmx.at>, wrote:
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inline - David Wright wrote on 19.11.2020 12:39:
Appropriation of Indian Red as 'Chestnut' (or other alternative) will
be viewed by some as 'making appropriate' the label for a colour, and
no doubt by other groups as cultural theft by excising reference to
its origin.

Seems the best option is to recognise the actual etymology carries no
semblance of offense whatsoever, and leave well alone.

One may remember that people who might feel offended by "Indian Red"
(Native Americans) make up less than 0.5 percent of all "Indians".
It is hardly the fault of the people of India that Native Americans were
called Indians by an Italian navigator who thought he had landed in India.

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