The Associated Press on Monday announced that it will continue to keep the term “white” lowercase “in racial, ethnic and cultural senses.”
The move follows the outlet’s decision last month to capitalize “Black.”
What are the details?
John Daniszewski, the AP’s vice president for Standards, noted in a blog post that the news outlet “consulted with a wide group of people internally and externally around the globe and considered a variety of commentary in making these decisions.”
“There was clear desire and reason to capitalize Black,” Daniszewski continued. “Most notably, people who are Black have strong historical and cultural commonalities, even if they are from different parts of the world, and even if they now live in different parts of the world. That includes the shared experience of discrimination due solely to the color of one’s skin.”
He added, however, that at the moment there’s “less support for capitalizing white.”
The reason? “White people generally do not share the same history and culture, or the experience of being discriminated against because of skin color,” Daniszewski noted. “In addition, we are a global news organization, and in much of the world there is considerable disagreement, ambiguity, and confusion about whom the term includes.”
While the AP acknowledges that “white people’s skin color plays into systemic inequalities and injustices, and we want our journalism to robustly explore those problems,” Daniszewski said “capitalizing the term white, as is done by white supremacists, risks subtly conveying legitimacy to such beliefs.”
More from the outlet:
Some have expressed the belief that if we don’t capitalize white, we are being inconsistent and discriminating against white people or, conversely, that we are implying that white is the default. We also recognize the argument that capitalizing the term could pull white people more fully into issues and discussions of race and equality. We will closely watch how usage and thought evolves, and will periodically review our decision.
How did folks react?
Commentary has been coming in fast from the AP’s Twitter post about its decision to keep “white” lowercase while capitalizing “Black” — and as you can imagine, not everybody views it as a helpful or fair-minded move:
- “They should both be lowercase, as that is the grammatically correct way,” one commenter noted. “This doesn’t make any sense.”
- “Wow, that’s not racist at all, except for the racist part,” another commenter said.
- “Capitalizing things to show some sort of respect is gratuitous,” yet another individual opined. “Proper nouns are capitalized and adjectives derived thereof are capitalized. Common nouns and adjectives derived thereof are not. Period. Paragraph.”
- “Total and complete racism, bigotry, and just flat out idiocy,” another person said.
- “The woke mob cannot be satiated, @AP,” one commenter added. “This does nothing other than signal your irrationality, intellectual weakness, and dishonesty. Congrats!”
Oh, and if you want an idea of what support for the AP’s decision looks like, one commenter in the thread offered frequent defenses. Here’s one of them: “My love, this is not what racism is. Uppercasing ‘Black’ is a symbol to make up for all of the history, culture, and knowledge that the world robbed from them when we enslaved them. We don’t do it for white people because we don’t need to. We are celebrated already.”