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Understanding Labels: The Terms We Use to Describe Groups of People & How These Evolve To Reflect Societal Values

Elvert Barnes

This is a rebroadcast of an earlier show (original air date April 21, 2021); no calls will be taken.

The labels and terms we use to describe groups of people are ever evolving. While this is intended to more accurately describe people’s identities, it can be confusing, especially in this divisive world. We discuss what the current preferred terms are, from LGBTQIA+ to Latinx and BIPOC, and how these reflect the changing norms of society.

This is part of our ongoing series of shows exploring the use of language in our world today.


Theo Greene, assistant professor of sociology, Bowdoin College
Nicollette Mitchell, director of equity and education, Bates College
Marpheen Chann, president, Cambodian Community Association of Maine; development, communications, and education associate at the Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine


Jennifer walked into her college radio station as a 17-year-old freshman and never looked back. Even though she was terrified of the microphone back then — and spoke into it as little as possible — she loved the studio, the atmosphere and, most of all, the people who work in broadcasting. She was hooked. Decades later, she’s back behind the radio microphone hosting Maine Public Radio’s flagship talk program, Maine Calling. She’s not afraid of the mic anymore, but still loves the bright, eclectic people she gets to work with every day.