There’s no question that Times editors heard readers’ voices loud and clear. Retiring this phrase and expressing regret about using it has nothing to do with political correctness. It’s about recognizing the history of slavery in America, at a time when race is at the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. Language matters. This is the right call.They shouldn't have used that phrase to describe Julian Bond's great-grandmother in the first place. It's hard to believe that professional, thinking people would've given the go ahead to publish it at all.
That's why it's imperative to have a diverse pool of employees who can provide perspectives from different cultural experiences. They'd be able to tell editors that things like this aren't a good idea before they're even published. Then they wouldn't have to keep apologizing after the fact.
But only after they get called out. Let none of us forget that part.