The backlash was predictable after the June 19 story, “Duluth seeks to scrub 'chief' from job names.” Like others, I was baffled at first by the city’s objection to such a widely applied word. Curious, I sought out reasons.
I can now see how the title rubs some Native people the wrong way. But whether I can relate to the reasons doesn’t really matter. The change would have hurt no one, and would have helped some. That would have been a good thing (“Council tables title change: Councilor questions whether term ‘chief’ is offensive,” June 23).
What was troubling, though, was the visceral reaction in letters to the editor and in scornful online comments. Notably, I saw no complaints about the proposed title, "city administrator." If the same people had read without any context that Duluth wanted to replace one generic job title with another, they undoubtedly would have yawned and skipped to the next article.
The reaction was so strong only because the context included consideration for Indigenous people. In effect, the backlash said, “It doesn’t affect me, but if it might make those people feel better, then I’m opposed.” I have to wonder what gets some White people so rankled about making adjustments for neighbors of another race.