Why is Black spelled with a capital ‘B’ and white lowercase? It’s divisive

Opinion: The decision to spell ‘Black’ with a capital ‘B’ and lowercase ‘white’ in a racial context is well-intended, but it may be doing more harm than good.

By Greg Moore | Arizona Republic

The intent is good and the explanation reasonable for why the press capitalizes ‘Black’ and lowercases ‘white,’ but it creates unncessary confusion and division.

Have you noticed that most mainstream media outlets capitalize the “B” in “Black” when writing about Black people? Have you noticed the “w” in “white” doesn’t receive the same treatment?

It’s a well-intended but confusing practice that might be doing more harm than good.

Decision came at the height of Black Lives Matter

The decision from the editors of The Associated Press Stylebook and Briefing on Media Law, which sets the standard for the language of journalism, came at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020.

Ahmaud Arbery had been killed in February of that year. Breonna Taylor was killed in March. And George Floyd was killed in May.  

The nation spasmed, with disaffected Black people and their allies from other races taking to the streets in what has been called the largest protest movement in world history.

There’s no coincidence that it came during the peak of pandemic lockdowns and quarantines when there were no sports, no commutes and few obligations to distract people from the reality that was getting beamed into their televisions, computers and cellphones on a never-ending loop.

By summer, race experts had emerged like worms after the rain, producing lists of documentaries and books that they said would contextualize the chaos for confused people who didn’t know how to help.

Donations poured in by the tens of millions from corporations promising diversity initiatives and support for grassroots programs to ease the socio-economic disparities that undergirded the uprising.


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