Capitalizing Black As A Cultural Identifier

    The last time The New York Times made a sweeping call to capitalize how it referred to people of African ancestry was nearly a century ago.

    W.E.B. Du Bois had started a letter-writing campaign asking publications, including The Times, to capitalize the N in Negro, a term long since eradicated from The Times’s pages. “The use of a small letter for the name of twelve million Americans and two hundred million human beings,” he once wrote, was “a personal insult.”

    The Times turned him down in 1926 before coming around in 1930, when the paper wrote that the new entry in its stylebook — its internal guide on grammar and usage — was “not merely a typographical change,” but “an act in recognition of racial self-respect.”

    Decades later, a monthlong internal discussion at The Times led the paper on Tuesday to make, for similar reasons, its latest style change on race — capitalizing Black when describing people and cultures of African origin.

    “We believe this style best conveys elements of shared history and identity, and reflects our goal to be respectful of all the people and communities we cover,” said Dean Baquet, The Times’s executive editor, and Phil Corbett, associate managing editor for standards, in a memo to staff.

    Conversations about the change began in earnest at The Times and elsewhere after the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests, said Mike Abrams, senior editor for editing standards. Several major news media organizations have made the same callincluding The Associated Press, whose stylebook has long been an influential guide for news organizations.

    “It seems like such a minor change, black versus Black,” The Times’s National editor, Marc Lacey, said. “But for many people the capitalization of that one letter is the difference between a color and a culture.”



    From the article, "Then there are those troubled that our policy will now capitalize ‘Black’ but not ‘white.’"

    This is the only point that matters. If White and Caucasian are capitalized then Black and Negro should also be capitalized. If white or caucasian isn't capitalized then neither should they capitalize black or negro. Grammar rules on capitalization should simply be standardized, no more, no less.

    Negro is capitalized by Merriam-Webster

    And Caucasian is also. If, as is likely the case, at one time they capitalized Caucasian but didn't Negro that was wrong and racist.

    white is not being capitalized by the NYT. brown is not being capitalized 

    The Times also looked at whether to capitalize white and brown in reference to race, but both will remain lowercase. Brown has generally been used to describe a wide range of cultures, Mr. Baquet and Mr. Corbett said in their memo to staff. As a result, its meaning can be unclear to readers; white doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does, and also has long been capitalized by hate groups.

    “To be parallel does make sense usage-wise when talking about grammar and usage, but we can never just go on these sorts of standards,” Ms. Royal said. “Language doesn’t work that way. You have to consider the other factors.”

    The NYT uses Black and Caucasian, but brown and white. Black is an update to Negro.

    That's garbage reasoning. No ethnic group has a 100% shared history but Whites do have a much longer shared culture and history. Much of Black culture and history isn't shared by many Blacks unfortunately due to being interrupted by slavery. Non immigrant Black Americans share a culture and history and so do non immigrant White Americans. White Americans share much culture and history with White Europeans but most Black Americans don't share any culture or history with Black Nigerians or Black Africans even if their ancestors came from there as slaves.

    It doesn't matter if White Supremacist hate groups capitalized White. Should we search their literature and make a list of words  capitalized and a list of words not  capitalized and do the opposite? 

    I suggest you take it up with the NYT. They also raised the issue of capitalized white being used by supremacists.


     They also raised the issue of capitalized white being used by supremacists.

    And I also addressed that in my reply. You really should read what people say before you respond. 

    It's a trivial issue that I don't care about. But you decided it was important enough to you to post here so I addressed it. Have you decided to turn into Wattree? Posting so your words will be saved for posterity but unwilling to discuss what you post

    I pointed you back to the Times rationale which included the white supremacy link. It is their new policy. 
    I stated that Black replaced Negro. I discussed the NYT decision. I don't have a problem. Caucasian remains available to soothe your feelings. 

    As I said I don't  care about it at all. It was done to soothe your feelings. One more dumb ass response likely from guilt over past generations mistakes. They made a symbolic gesture and rationalized it with bogus reasoning. I read the article before you posted it, had a laugh about how stupid it was and forgot it within seconds. But you're so pleased with this nothing symbol you had to post it here. 

    I posted it and look who responded.

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