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Minnesota Democrat Mayor Demands 'Chief' Removed from Job Titles: It's 'Offensive'

City Council of Duluth considers removing term to make titles 'more inclusive'

 on 19th June 2020 @ 3.00pm
minnesota democrat mayor demands  chief  removed from job titles  it s  offensive © press

The Democratic mayor of Duluth, Minnesota, is pushing city council members to remove the term “chief” from city job titles, claiming the word is "offensive" to Native Americans.

The city council will take up the measure on Monday that would see Duluth's chief administrative officer called city administrator and the chief financial officer renamed to finance director, the Star Tribune reported.

Duluth Mayor Emily Larson demanded that city officials vote in approval “so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.”

Duluth’s community relations officer, Alicia Kozlowski, told the Star Tribune that “chief” is used as “a racial epithet, and it turns into a microaggression.”

The city is trying to be proactive about the change before residents ask, she claimed.

“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,” said Kozlowski, who is a member of the Grand Portage and Fond du Lac Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa.

duluth mayor emily larson claims the term  chief  is  offensive  to native americans © press
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson claims the term 'chief' is 'offensive' to Native Americans

The StarTribune reported that during a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Emily Larson "implored City Council members to vote to approve the change next week 'so that we have more inclusive leadership and less language that is rooted in hurt and offensive, intentional marginalization.'"

Alicia Kozlowski, the city's community relations officer and a member of the Grand Portage and Fond du Lac Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa, is on board with the initiative. She told the outlet, "I think 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 said the term "chief" is used as "a racial epithet, and it turns into a microaggression." 

The specific measure up for consideration before the council on Monday would change the title of the city's chief administrative officer to "City Administrator," and the title of the chief financial officer would become "finance director."

Mayor Larson said the city is also looking at changing the titles of their police and fire chiefs.

Fox News reported that "Larson who was elected the city's first female mayor in 2015, called for the city's legal foundation to be tweaked with more 'gender-neutral language to better reflect that the mayor is not going to be a man."

duluth mayor emily larson insists that  chief  should be dropped in favor of  more inclusive  job titles © press
Duluth Mayor Emily Larson insists that 'chief' should be dropped in favor of 'more inclusive' job titles

There has been a movement for years to change the mascots of sports teams named after Native Americans for the same concerns over cultural sensitivity and several high schools have made such a switch across the country.

But professional teams such as the NFL's Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Redskins, and MLB's Cleveland Indians have resisted calls to start over with their brands.

One concern about removing the word "chief" from certain professional job titles incrementally is that it could cause confusion regarding positions, as Larson noted in her press conference.

The StarTribune reported that the title of "police chief," for instance, "is used by professional law enforcement associations and to refer to those in comparable public safety roles elsewhere, which makes finding a suitable replacement more challenging" since applicants may not be familiar with the seniority level of the new title.

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