Stacks Image 174
For 50 years, starting at its inception in 1971, our dive club was known as the NYC Sea Gypsies. Then in March 2022, the club’s executive board was presented with a motion to retire the name of “Sea Gypsies” based on the fact that the word “gypsies” is an ethnic slur against the Romani people. This was prompted by an article describing how the scientists of the Entomological Society of America had decided to change the name of the "gypsy moth" to the “spongy moth” because it contained the slur.
From that article: "For the Romani people -- an ethnic group originating in northern India that was at one time misidentified as Egyptian -- the word 'gypsy' has been offensive, dangerous and dehumanizing since it first appeared in the 1500s, Margareta Matache, director of the Roma Program at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University, told CNN in July 2021. … Changing the name of this insect is very relevant in rectifying the mainstream, White narratives about Romani people. I hope that the decision to give up the G-word gets to be followed by others who also need to change the names of businesses, events, websites, fashion collections, cakes, food, drinks and college parades that include the G-word."
For some of us, this was surprising to hear. We had all been in the club for years and some had never considered the word to be a racial epithet. I personally thought the name cast us as a group of tight-knit explorers who roam the seas in search of underwater adventure. But upon learning that young people and people from other countries viewed the name as so taboo they wouldn’t even wear our t-shirts, and that we were even prohibited from sharing the name of the club on certain forums, we had to face the fact that the name has negative connotations that were hurting the club as we move forward. There were other issues with it too, such as the fact that it did not immediately identify us as a scuba diving club.
For these reasons, the club’s executive board voted unanimously to retire the name and begin the process of finding a new name.
After that vote, the board began a dialogue with the club membership, which included the following steps:
1. An explanation to the membership of why the name was unanimously voted by the board to be retired.
2. A formal request to the membership for ideas for new names.
3. An online survey asking for thoughts about retiring the name, another request for new name ideas, and requesting feedback on some existing name ideas.
4. A formal vote of the membership on the most popular name ideas, based on the aforementioned survey.
We’re thrilled to announce that the winning name of that vote was Big Apple Divers, a name originally suggested by 30-year club veteran and diver Merrilee Fiedler. To Merrilee, the club is more than just a name. In her words, “For the better part of this almost 30 years I’ve been with the Club and gone on some awesome adventures and learned oh so much about diving, warm water and cold (freezing cold). [I] became a dry suit diver, dived the local wrecks, met the captains and crew, and got to experience diving as few others can by being a member of this awesome club!”
Our thanks to Merrilee for our wonderful new club name and appreciation to the membership for continuing with us during this four-month process. 
Wishing Big Apple Divers another 50 years of awe-inspiring dives and fantastic time spent together!
Join us on social media via: Twitter @bigappledivers
Instagram @bigappledivers
Meredith Massey, Club President
Big Apple Divers