Sunday, May 22, 2022

I’m a Black Scholar Who Studies Race. Here’s Why I Capitalize ‘White.’

I haven’t always capitalized the ‘W’ in my own writing, but I do now

In recent days, multiple well-respected journalistic outlets have announced to much fanfare that, having reflected on the rapidly shifting American racial landscape, they will be capitalizing “Black” as designations for people and cultures. Some have also clarified why they’re not capitalizing “white.”

“Black is an ethnic designation; white merely describes the skin color of people who can, usually without much difficulty, trace their ethnic origins back to a handful of European countries,” wrote Mike Laws in the Columbia Journalism Review on June 16, before the article was updated with revised language. Dean Baquet and Phil Corbett of the New York Times wrote that “there is less of a sense that ‘white’ describes a shared culture and history.”

Unfortunately, this choice runs the risk of reinforcing the dangerous myth that White people in America do not have a racial identity.

I haven’t always capitalized “White” in my own writing, but I do now. Here’s why.

Whiteness is not only an absence. It’s not a hole in the map of America’s racial landscape. Rather, it is a specific social category that confers identifiable and measurable social benefits.




1 comment:

Norse said...

Some do not like that others find evidence and let it be known what they have found, for example, that a specific and clearly identified group of students do better than others in a country.

As far as skin color goes, at the end of the day it is about the individuals that reside in different dressings, and in that way the color of one’s skin is as important as the color of one’s shoes.