San Francisco School Officials Say Acronyms Are Symptoms of ‘White Supremacy’


The San Francisco school district’s art department removed an acronym from its official name in the name of antiracism.

The paperwork: Sam Bass, director of what was previously known as the “Visual and Performing Arts” Department, or VAPA, announced the change this week in a memo explaining that acronyms are “symptoms” of “white supremacy culture.”

  • Henceforth, VAPA will be known as the Arts Department.
  • “We are prioritizing antiracist arts instruction in our work,” Bass told ABC7 on Monday.
  • “The use of so many acronyms within the educational field often tends to alienate those who may not speak English to understand the acronym,” he said, citing a 1999 paper by antiracist education consultant Tema Okun.

The school district, whose website contains widespread use of acronyms, says it has no official plan for ending the use of acronyms.

Whoops: In elaborating on the name change, Bass appeared to contradict his anti-acronym stance when he used “SFUSD” to refer to the San Francisco Unified School District.

  • “It is a very simple step we can take to just be referred to as the SFUSD Arts Department for families to better understand who we are,” Bass told ABC7.

Zooming out: The crusade against acronyms comes on the heels of the San Francisco school board’s decision to rename 44 schools whose namesakes were allegedly involved in colonization, genocide, slavery, queer oppression, worker exploitation, or racism.

  • Figures deemed potentially problematic included George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who reportedly replaced a vandalized Confederate flag in front of San Francisco’s city hall while serving as mayor in 1986.
By We'll Do It Live