Monday, 29 June 2009

Yes, "Black" Must Be Spelled with a Capital "B"

Over at The Study of Racialism blog, they have reposted my discussion of my anger at white newspapers that refuse to capitalize the "B" in the name of the ethnic group "Blacks."

They seem to be trying to figure out what to make of my anger, although I thought I explained my reasoning pretty well. So, I'm going to give it another try: The names of ethnic groups like Italian-American, Irish-American, Latino and Hispanic are always capitalized by newspapers and by others. Everyone understands that the names of ethnic groups are capitalized, just like the names of the countries from which those ethnic groups have come.

Now, the term African-American is always capitalized as well, because African refers to a whole continent of ethnic groups and because American is always capitalized, referring as it does to everything having to do with America and all of the people who are part of this country.

Historically, the term African-American was adopted as an alternative to "Black" for purposes of describing Blacks. It stands to reason, then, that if "African-American" must be capitalized, because it is the name of an ethnic group then the name that preceeded African-American to denote our ethnic group must also be capitalized. If African-American is an ethnic group, then whatever we were called before we were called African American must also have been the name of an ethnic group. That would be "Black" and "Blacks.

The terms "Blacks" is an abbreviate for the term the "Black People", just like "Jews" is an abbreviated way of saying the "Jewish people".

When they called us the "n" word, they sometimes capitalized it and sometimes didn't. Now, they have regressed two hundred years by not spelling Black with a capital "B". When they called us "N****s," were they not referring to an ethnic group? And when they call us "black" aren't they referring to the very same group that they used to call "N****s"? Were they not referring to everyone who was part African, regardless of their actual skin color?

Some newspapers in this nation, like the New York Times and the Houston or Dallas Crapscraper, have made a conscious decision and have announced their conscious decision not to spell the word Black with a capital "B". I haven't read their reasoning, frankly. I think it's enough that for quite some time Black was spelled with a capital "B" and now they've suddenly decided that it shouldn't be.

Luke Visconti at says:

I made the decision not to follow AP style in the case of "Black" and "white" when it applies to describing people. AP style is to capitalize neither; however, terms such as African American, Negro, Caucasian, Italian American or Asian are all capitalized.

Regardless of whether there is adequate representation among the decision makers at the AP, I felt DiversityInc needed to be more accurate.

The word "Black" is used around the world to describe people who have "racial" features indicating African ancestry. Please keep in mind that the convention of race has been discarded by science--genetically, we are all one race, and the human-genome project proves we are all from Africa.
Still, newspapers cannot understand why "Black" should be capitalized. Well, I would like to make a deal with them: If they want to refer to people whose skin is actually black like the typeface of this page using a lower case "b", I can accept that, but only if they are referring to a color. If so, they must not refer to President Obama as "black" because it is as obvious as day and night that President Obama's skin is brown, not black. Likewise, they must not refer to Colin Powell as "black" because it is as obvious the disappearance of the Twin Towers that Colin Powell's skin is NOT "black", it beige.

If the newspapers that insist that "black" is merely a color will differentiate between colors when speaking of people of African heritage, then I can accept the lower case "b" in "black", and in the lower case "b" in "beige", as well as the lower case "k" in "kaki", and the lower case "t" in "tan". These are all specific colors and colors are not capitalized. As long as the colors are distinguished and described appropriately, instead of being bound into an undifferentiated mass, like an ethnic group is, then I will not be offended.

However, these newspapers might discover that this is quite a lot of work to describe people who are not white by their actual specific color, and it also confounds their analysis, because they are usually referring to Blacks as an ethnic group, with distinct political interests, culture and history, and so the "B" must be capitalized. Meanwhile, they would quickly discover that describing each "Black" person's actual skin color with specificity is hard work that would lead to considerably more anger and discord than spelling the word "Black" with a lower case "b".

However, if they are are going to pretend that "Black" is merely a color, and also that ALL Blacks have the color of a piece of coal, or a cast iron frying pan, then that is simply color-aroused ideation, bigotry and stupidity. If they cannot distinguish between colors of "Black" peope and therefore pretend, as America did did during slavery, that even one drop of African blood made a person 100% Black, then I insist that the "one-drop rule" created an ethnic and political and cultural group consisting of everyone who was one hundred percent African as well as everyone who had even one drop of African blood in them. THAT is who the newspapers are referring to when they say "black", and that certainly is an ethnic group whose name must be spelled with a capital letter.

If white Americans can spell Vulcan with a capital "V", I would hope they would find it in their cheap little hearts to spell "Black" with a capital "B" as well. If not, then by God I hope they burn in Hell . . . . with their hellfires burning retroactive to the moment when they began spelling "Black" with a lower case "b".

And I will tell such people right now that if they can't spell the ethnic and political and cultural group "Black" with a capital "B", then as far as I am concerned they can and should go f . . . umigate themselves. And as for their mothers, . . . their mothers . . . should have, but did not, teach them a modicom of decency and polity. Instead, they were permitted to grow up to have profoundly color-aroused ideation and social myopia that makes them behave like stinking rancid anuses.


Kynn said...

This does make sense to me. I'll try to remember to capitalize Black when appropriate; probably won't with "white" though.

(Responding here because I'm banned on PHB -- you know that's probably not the best blog for trying to have an honest and non-racist discussion of this topic, right?)

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