We keep emphasizing, "say what you mean," so we'll do just that.
This is the Voice123 dictionary, a living, breathing document updated with words and terms we avoid using because they are regarded as hurtful and insensitive by some of our users.
We’ll be looking out for them in project proposals and when they are found, our customer success team will recommend more suitable alternatives. It follows by implication that we aim to educate, not regulate. We strive for concise and descriptive clarity in the project proposals our clients submit so voice actors can better understand what is expected of them when they audition.
Please expand the sections to read more about why we’re refraining from using these terms.
Widely used in the music industry for musical genres predominantly created by Black artists. Urban is rooted in US sociologist Elijah Anderson’s notion of the iconic ghetto, where the image of the streets, the hood, or the endz dominates how we see and interpret black communities. Urban denotes black and thus perpetuates stereotypes by erasing the diversity of both the black experience and the music. (See The Guardian, 2018).
Back in the early 20th century, educator and activist Fannie Barrier Williams spoke of a “lively discussion … whether to shed the label Negro in favor of terms like colored or Afro-American. Colored, she wrote, was a “name that is suggestive of progress toward respectful recognition” (New York Times, 2020). Times have changed and Afro is a hairstyle, and not a race nor ethnic group. If you’re looking for a Black voice actor, just say so.
Tell us what’s missing! Are there any terms you’d like to see on this list? Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or concerns.