The Associated Press recently posted an announcement on their website detailing their decision to capitalize the ‘B’ in Black when used in the context of race and culture.‘These changes align with long-standing capitalization of other racial and ethnic identifiers such as Latino, Asian American and Native American,’ writes AP’s Vice President for Standards, John Daniszewski in a blog post on the AP website.The following day a further announcement was made explaining why they had taken the decision to continue to use a lowercase ‘w’ in ‘white’ when used in the same context.Predictably, this has upset a lot of white people (or as I like to call them ‘racists’) who obviously cannot understand that when it comes to race, they really need to stay in their lane and get used to not ‘capitalizing’ (haha!) from the labor of Black and Minority Ethnic people.‘There was clear desire and reason to capitalize Black,’ explains Daniszewski in a second blog post. ‘Most notably, people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world and even if they now live in different parts of the world. There is, at this time, less support for capitalizing white. White people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color.’What John Daniszewski is saying here is that white people come from a wide range of cultures and social backgrounds, whereas Black people are one homogenous group with the same outlook and experiences and only one distinct identity: Black. Every Black person I know enjoys rap music and supports Black Lives Matter. I am fairly sure of this. When it comes to white people, their likes and dislikes are all over the place. You just can’t pin them down to anything specific. It’s like trying to nail ants to a wall. Horrible mess.‘We agree that white people’s skin color plays into systemic inequalities and injustices, and we want our journalism to robustly explore those problems,’ Daniszewski continues. From this we can deduce that although white people come from many different cultures and backgrounds and experience no meaningful shared experience regarding their skin color…they DO share a propensity towards slave-ownership, white privilege and racism due to their, well, skin color. This makes perfect sense. white people benefit universally from Black slavery, they each have a duty to accept and dismantle their white privilege, they need to recognize the injustices that their lack of melanin have brought against Black people and strive to make amends. Only last week I made my grandfather go to his nearest KFC and apologize to any Black people he came across (apparently they can’t get enough of fried chicken which is another shared experience of theirs) for the death of George Floyd. He’s 83 and suffers from dementia, so he ended up telling a black Labrador that he killed George Foreman. The Labrador didn’t seem to pay him much heed but I still feel this was a valuable step towards making reparations.
So with all this in mind, I fully support non-capitalization of the word ‘white’ when used in conversations surrounding race issues. white people need bringing down a fair few pegs, and this would be a damn good start. In fact I think it would benefit us greatly if we took this a bit further and have outlined a few suggestions for a less white-oriented society:
- Petition paint companies to not capitalize the word ‘white’ on any of their products
- Create a typeface that automatically makes the ‘w’ smaller when used before the letters ‘h’, ‘i’, ‘t’ and ‘e’
- Get rid of the ‘w’ altogether so that the term ‘hite people’ contains fewer letters than ‘Black people’
- Force editors to print the word ‘Black’ in gold lettering on all magazine and newspaper articles, and have the word ‘white’ handwritten in cheap crayon
- Completely remove the word ‘white’ as a descriptive term, so that when we are discussing matters of race, the conversation becomes centered on ‘people’, and ‘Black people’.
- Capitalize every letter in ‘Black’ on everything everywhere to address the inequality and oppression BLACK people deal with every day.
I feel confident that we will begin to make huge strides towards true racial equality once we learn to treat people differently according to our preconceived notions regarding their skin color, and I would like to thank the Associated Press for taking that first brave step.