Why Is black capitalized and not white?
capital black: short answer
Black is now being capitalized, but white isn’t. Why? The short answer given by the New York Times is “white doesn’t represent a shared history.” But to understand that you’ll need to keep reading.
who made "capital black" official?
It’s official. The “Associated Press stylebook,” AKA the Bible for journalists has decided to capitalize the B in Black.
Now major news outlets, companies and people in general from all over the world are following the lead and capitalizing the B.
The world is told to capitalize words such as- Native American, Latinx, and Asian but black was always lowercase.
Media giant, The New York Times, decided that they were going to capitalize the B.
They said: ‘Black was a better fit for representing, shared history, identity and respect.’
They also mentioned that this decision was made after seeing the world’s response to the death of George Floyd and others around that time.
Associated Press saw this as a great step and did the same stating: “The lowercase black is a color, not a person.”
AP also said that they will now capitalize Indigenous as well.
This move got the world to follow.
Including major news outlets like: NBC, LA Times, NYT, Wall Street Journal and more.
But I left one thing out! These companies were capitalizing the B in Black, but keeping white lowercase. This is where things got heated.
the origins of black
In the 14th century the term black was used to describe evil.
White people started to use this as an excuse to turn Africans into slaves. Many people realised black people weren’t evil but they liked having slaves. However, that still wasn’t the term for black people yet.
Fast forward centuries later, to the 1800’s, when slavery in America was booming. Was Black the most common word used? Nope.
The most common was colored people, negro and… you know the one.
Black was starting to be used in 1863 and became the popular term in 1865, after the Emancipation of 1863, and the Civil War. (AKA when Lincoln made the move to free slaves.)
So why were they called Black now?
White people back then couldn’t deal with Black people being free so they said, you know what…nah.
Black people had to follow laws called the Black Codes. These codes severely limited their rights. Basically they weren’t really free.
The term black was then used to mock and dehumanise Black people by referring to them as a color.
Which is a big reason why people now are saying one version of black is a color and the other Black is people whos ancestors came from Africa. And why one Black is respectful and another black is dehumanising.
african american or black?
Black was a hated term for years. This is why in 1988, activist Jesse Jackson moved for black people to be called African American.
This term stuck for years, you still see it now, but many people don’t like to identify as African American.
Think of the Black people that you know. Do most of them say I’m African American or do they say I’m Black?
A huge chunk of Black people feel misplaced and don’t identify with being called African because they don’t have African ancestry to trace back to.
Another issue was those that were calling a Black person African American, may not know if that person was born in Nigeria or Jamaica or in New York City, etc.
Also no one would agree that Indian, Chinese and Filipino are the same because they share Asian ancestry right? They have different cultures. Same for Black people.
So other Black people decided to reclaim the word Black.
Famous examples of that are the Black Panthers, instead of using negro they chose Black, Black Lives Matter, as well as civil rights leader, W.E.B. Dubois who wrote the book “Souls of Black Folk” which talked about race in America.
White people tried to ban this book from Black people because it called out so many racist tactics and got Black people to become aware. This was a time when the popular opinion was race determines your intelligence. In other words if you were black then you were labelled as stupid.
why isn't white being capitalized?
Which brings this back to why you see Black being capitalised and not white.
This is why NYT told the world that white doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does.
They also mentioned that White supremacists took over the capital W in white, and they didn’t want that to cause any confusion.
Furthermore, NYT, AP, and others, made it a point that they listened in to what many people in the Black community was asking for and in return, provided it.
So in result, you’ll most likely see a majority of publishers capitalizing Black and keeping white lowercase.
But there are a select few that aren’t following this new style, as they want white capitalized too, so it doesn’t seem less of an identity.
Which goes against the point that NYT as well as other outlets and activists were trying to make.
the controversy and the answers
There are a few people saying that this new wording of Black is unnecessary and a distraction from more important problems.
But many have shut that argument down. Stating that two things can happen at once. The world can fight for equality in America and also fight for a respectful language for race.
They also pointed out that these small wins have large impacts on how black people view themselves and how others view them.
Was this article able to help you find your stance on if Black should be capitalised or not, or if white should be capitalised?
Feel free to express your opinions on the comment section of this YouTube video. It’s an open discussion, and we can only grow if we listen to each others views. So whichever way you’re siding, there are people here to listen to you.
Hope this helped!
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