The Washington Post announced that it will uppercase the B in Black to identify the many groups that make up the African diaspora in America and elsewhere.

According to The Post: “This decision comes after extensive discussions with members of our own news organization, consultations with editors in other newsrooms nationwide and evaluations of commentary and analyses by numerous thought leaders and organizations of influence in the Black community. The use of Black is a recognition and acknowledgment not only of the cultural bonds and historical experiences shared by people of African heritage, but also the shared struggles of the descendants of enslaved people, families who immigrated generations ago and more recent immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and other corners of the world.

“In addition to the use of the uppercase B for Black, Post coverage recognizes there are individuals who prefer not to confine themselves to identity based solely on the color of their skin. Just as the U.S. Census asks individuals to categorize themselves by race, ethnicity and nationality, in our journalism, people will have the opportunity to identify as Black, African American and biracial, or something more ethnically specific, such as Afro-Latino, Ethiopian American or other national identifiers, a reflection of the many cultures and backgrounds that constitute this vast community.

“This style change also prompts the question of how America’s largest racial community should be identified. Stories involving race show that White also represents a distinct cultural identity in the United States. In American history, many White Europeans who entered the country during times of mass migration were the targets of racial and ethnic discrimination. These diverse ethnicities were eventually assimilated into the collective group that has had its own cultural and historical impact on the nation. As such, White should be represented with a capital W. In accordance with our style change, people who do not want to be recognized as a color also have the choice of representing themselves by their cultural background, as they currently do, identifying as German American, Irish American, Italian American or other representations of national heritage.

“Separately, we will limit the uppercase version of the racial categorization Brown to direct quotations and use it sparingly in other instances. Although the term has gained general acceptance, the designation is seen by many as a catchall to describe people of color of vastly diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds who are not Black.”

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