Recently I noticed that Associated Press articles in the MDJ were capitalizing “black” when describing a person’s race but not capitalizing “white.” The Associated Press and many other news organizations have updated their style guides to mandate this new convention.
The rationale is that “black” is more than a description of someone’s skin color, but is also an ethnic description of a people with a tightly shared identity. On the other hand, white people are viewed as more diverse and as not having an equivalently shared ethnic identity. I agree that people with white skin or who are described racially as “white” are diverse. However, I would also contend that people with black skin or people who are racially referred to as “black” are also diverse and should not be stereotyped as somehow having a tighter-knit cultural identity than people who are racially described as white. Additionally, for most readers, who are not going to do an in-depth study of the convoluted logic behind this new racial capitalization convention, race-based capitalization will itself be seen as an instance of racial discrimination. This convention will also be taught in our schools, further promoting prejudice and resentment.
I believe that it is high time that we love and respect each other for who we are rather than how we look or from whom we are descended. Certainly, each of us should understand our heritage, but our heritage and the influences on our lives transcend race. For the most part, it does not even make sense to talk about people in terms of their race. Our racial and ethnic backgrounds themselves are often blends based on people who started families based on love for each other rather than racial purity. In fact, describing people as black, white, or in some other way should be done in the same way as other descriptors (blonde, gray-haired, brown-eyed, etc.). Let’s value each other as persons and stop foolishly dividing and dissecting each other based on race.