The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has come under fire for taking part in ongoing efforts to rid the federal government and other entities of “systemic discrimination and inequality.”
The agency announced on Wednesday that it would stop using the terms “Eskimo Nebula” and “Siamese Twins Galaxy”. Instead, the agency will refer to the celestial phenomena by their International Astronomical Union designations — NGC 2392, NGC 4567, and NGC 4568.
“‘Eskimo’ is widely viewed as a colonial term with a racist history, imposed on the indigenous people of Arctic regions,” NASA said in a statement. “Most official documents have moved away from its use.”
The changes are part of a broader “commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“As the scientific community works to identify and address systemic discrimination and inequality in all aspects of the field, it has become clear that certain cosmic nicknames are not only insensitive, but can be actively harmful,” the statement continued. “NASA is examining its use of unofficial terminology for cosmic objects as part of its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.”
Many Twitter users ridiculed the change. Writer Christina Hoff Sommers tweeted: “Dear NASA: Will you also address the following hurtful and insensitive terms: Big Bang Theory, Uranus, black holes, dwarf stars, and dark matter.”
“Who runs @NASA that they would allow this government agency engage if [sic] leftist race baiting?” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said.
NASA’s decision followed an uproar over a graphic from the National Museum for African American History and Culture which broke the “aspects and assumptions of whiteness” into categories such as “rugged individualism” and “history.”
For example, under “future orientation,” the graphic listed “delayed gratification” and planning for the future as ideas spread by white culture. It eventually removed the graphic but maintained a webpage warning about microaggressions and other issues.