For The Culture: The Seattle Times Elects To Capitalize the “B” In Black

Black isn’t just beautiful, it’s also capitalized.

This month, the Seattle Times announced that they would capitalize the “B” in Black in standard usage when the publication is referring to a culture, ethnicity, or group of people.

“The time was overdue for this kind of reassessment,” said Seattle Times Managing Editor Ray Rivera. “We felt this was an important move. It is increasingly clear this is the preferred term among many Black publications and presses. It seems appropriate and respectful for us to follow suit.”

Members of the Seattle Times’ Diversity & Inclusion task force along with the news copy desk, came up with an updated description for their style guide.

Black (adj.): Belonging to people who are part of the African diaspora. Capitalize Black because it is a reflection of shared cultures and experiences (foods, languages, music, religious traditions, etc.). Do not use as a singular or plural noun. When ethnicity is relevant to the story, ask the source which ethnic identifier they use. Black is not necessarily synonymous with African American; some argue the term Black is more inclusive of the collective experiences of the U.S. population, which encompasses recent immigrants.

The decision is a significant one given that Seattle only has around a 7% Black population, according to SeattleGov.com.

Now, in one of the Northwest’s largest publications, Black is on par with other race identifiers such as Native American and African American, which are also capitalized.

Carron J. Phillips, Senior Columnist with The Shadow League, hails from Saginaw, Michigan. In 2016, he was named Journalist of the Year by the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. Phillips graduated with honors from Morehouse College in 2006 and received his Masters in 2011 from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.