Thanks to National Public Radio (USA) for bringing this to our attention:
Is It Insulting To Call This A ‘Hut’?
The complaints came in shortly after we ran a story on a government aid program that gave cash to the poor in Zambia. The piece included a profile of a young woman who, along with her husband, had used the money to start a business that had lifted their family to a level self-sufficiency they’d never enjoyed before.
Several readers — okay, just two, but still, it made us take note! — wrote to take issue with my use of the word “hut” to describe the family’s dwelling.
Here’s the paragraph in question:
Take Nasilele and her husband. They live in a tiny village called Yuka, in a round hut made of sticks and mud. Before the cash program, the couple mostly worked day jobs in construction, pulling in about $30 a month. Not even enough to cover basics like soap or shoes or food, says Nasilele.
“We would have one meal a day and maybe in between we would just have mangoes from our tree,” she recalls. “The thing that saved us were our mangoes.”
Our two commenters questioned why I didn’t just refer to the structure as a house or a home. The word “hut” wrote one of them, is “such a pejorative term, implying something ‘lesser’ and comes from a time when African culture was belittled and seen as inferior. I think you can do better than that — especially when you do such a great job highlighting the dignity and worth of the people you write about. We all live in homes or houses, whatever the shape, size or building materials.”…
Read the whole story here.