AP changes writing style to capitalize ‘b’ in Black
The Associated Press changed its writing style guide to capitalize the “b” in the term Black when referring to people in a racial, ethnic or cultural context, weighing in on a hotly debated issue.
The change conveys “an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa,” John Daniszewski, AP’s vice-president of standards, said in a blog post yesterday. “The lowercase black is a color, not a person.”
The news organization will also now capitalize Indigenous in reference to original inhabitants of a place.
Daniszewski said the revisions aligned with long-standing identifiers such as Latino, Asian American, and Native American. He said the decision followed more than two years of research and debate among AP journalists and outside groups and thinkers.
“Our discussions on style and language consider many points, including the need to be inclusive and respectful in our storytelling and the evolution of language,” he wrote. “We believe this change serves those ends.”
The AP said it expects to decide within a month on whether to capitalize the term white. Among the considerations are what that change might mean outside the United States.
An ongoing debate over capitalization of Black accelerated in many US newsrooms in recent weeks as journalists grappled with massive protests and sweeping changes in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police.
The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and NBC News last week embraced capitalization, and the National Association of Black Journalists urged other news organizations to follow.
The AP stylebook of usage policies is highly influential in the industry, with many news organizations, government, and public relations agencies using it as a guide.
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