Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
kike vega F2qh3yjz6Jk unsplash?width=719&height=464&fit=crop&auto=webp
kike vega F2qh3yjz6Jk unsplash?width=398&height=256&fit=crop&auto=webp
/ Unsplash

4 Buzz Phrases I Removed From My Vocabulary

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Toronto chapter.

We’ve all heard those popular overused phrases or words (which I like to call “buzzwords”) that everyone and their best friend are using. Some of these buzzwords are completely harmless (fetch, anyone?) but others have underlying meanings or cultural significances that make them offensive to be using as everyday street talk. Often when made aware of these offences the general response is “its just a word” or “stop being an swj (social justice warrior)” , but no one deserves to have their race, culture, or sexual orientation disrespected or used as the butt of a joke so that you can use “just a word”. Here are some of the buzzwords and phrases I’ve removed from my vocabulary;


“My Tribe”

With a quick Pinterest or Google search of “cute friendship” or “girl power” quotes its likely the quote “Every strong woman has a tribe of women behind her supporting her.” Looking at this quote at first glance it may seem completely harmless. But the term tribe is associated with Native American and Canadian populations who did not originally coin the term, but rather white anthropologists used the term tribe to refer to their divisions as “primitive”. Further, using the term tribe to describe your friend group undermines the variety of groupings among Indigenous populations and their unique rituals, cultural practices, and fight for equality. Using the term tribe to describe your friend group reinforces this harmful belief of Indigenous populations as subhuman and whitewashes their culture. Although terms like my crew, my friends, and my social circle may sound less hip and trendy, it’s a fair trade off to avoid being culturally offensive to other people.




Your pre football game tailgate party or office board meetings are not “powwows”. Powwows are Native American celebrations of culture that include dancing, singing, food, and crafts, believed to have first been done by Southern Plains Native Americans. Equating activities involving (pre) drinking, business transactions, or meeting with friends to Powwows undermine the cultural significance that these events. If your participating in any event that isn’t specifically an Indigenous powwow celebration, refer to sed event in its proper name.


Black Girl Magic

This one is definitely a bit controversial, as some black women have adopted this as a term of empowerment for themselves. Often “black girl magic” is used to describe when African American or Canadian women accomplish big feats such as getting into a prestigious law school, graduate program, medical school, or high-ranking company. However when women of other races accomplish these feats their hard work, intelligence, and smarts are credited rather than some form of “magic”. Personally, I believe this term undermines the hard work black women put into accomplishing great things, – and frankly we possess no magic, as no one does.


Yasss Queen

Often “Yass Queen” is what people will comment to hype up their best friend on Instagram, however many fail to understand the meaning of where this phrase comes from. The phrase “yass Queen” was used as a term of encouragement in 1980s Ball Culture- which is a precursor for current drag queen culture. Often it was used to hype up people of colour in Ball culture. Although this term is less inherently offensive then the others presented in this article, I have chosen to take this phrase out of my vocabulary as I am not involved in drag culture or a member of the LBGTQ+ community.

Even after reading this, some people may continue to use these buzz phrases as they are just “harmless words”. I’d ask you to consider how offensive slurs may be seen as “just words” but are truly psychologically harmful to communities of colour and LGBT+ individuals and at times accompanied with physical and verbal abuse. When considering using a buzz phrase associated with a specific race, culture, or sexual orientation, use this as an opportunity to engage in dialogue with individuals of these communities and give them the opportunity to express their beliefs and opinions.

(Hons) BA Candidate at the University of Toronto. Olivia is a well-versed content writer having written and edited for Her Campus U Toronto for three years and now serves as the Managing Editor. Olivia is currently working as the Content Manager for Enso Connect and as a social science research contributor at U of T. In her spare time, Olivia competes and trains for long-distance road races with local run clubs in Toronto.