OLD Media Moves

WSJ is now capitalizing Black

June 29, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

The Wall Street Journal editor for standards and ethics Emma Moody sent out the following on Monday:

The Wall Street Journal, as part of an A-to-Z review of its stylebook that began last year, now uppercases Black, and will use the adjective as the default reference to people and descendants of the Black African diaspora, rather than the less-precise African-American, when race is relevant in an article (Black person, Black literature, etc.) African-American remains acceptable in names of organizations and for people who state a preference for that term. The decision to capitalize Black recognizes the primacy of a racial, cultural and ethnic identity of American descendants of people who were uprooted from sub-Saharan Africa, enslaved and stripped of the diverse identities of their homelands. It can also be used as a broad description for immigrants from Africa and their descendants anywhere in the world. Black, moreso than African-American, is an inclusive term that covers people of African descent whose more-immediate roots are in the Caribbean or South America. As such, Black should be capitalized in the same way that other ethno-racial groups (Latino, Native American) are. It is important to note that when possible, use an individual’s more-precise preference — Nigerian-American; Jamaican-American; Haitian.

Note that Black isn’t used as a noun. Until now, the Journal and other news organizations had allowed that use in headlines, if needed to be concise. The Journal will no longer do so.

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