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A necessary conversation on colour, culture and country

Gina London


The Communicator

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A campaign sign for U.S. President Donald Trump sits beside a Confederate flag bearing the words "I ain't coming down" in the backyard of a home in Sandston, Virginia, U.S., July 4, 2020.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

A campaign sign for U.S. President Donald Trump sits beside a Confederate flag bearing the words "I ain't coming down" in the backyard of a home in Sandston, Virginia, U.S., July 4, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

REUTERS

A campaign sign for U.S. President Donald Trump sits beside a Confederate flag bearing the words "I ain't coming down" in the backyard of a home in Sandston, Virginia, U.S., July 4, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Without fanfare, the New York Times announced this past week it decided to capitalise the "B" in the word Black when signifying "people and cultures of African origin".

Other journalistic influencers of writing style, the Associated Press and the Columbia Journalism Review already made the 'B' upgrade last month and shared the rationale of the Times to keep "white" lower case. "Black reflects a shared sense of identity and community. White carries a different set of meanings; capitalising the word in this context risks following the lead of white extremists," wrote the CJR.

The recent death of George Floyd and the global protests it sparked have prompted dramatic changes like NASCAR banning Confederate flags and Mississippi finally becoming the last in the US to eliminate the rebel emblem from its own state flag, so the simple CapsLock shift of a lowercase letter to upper case might not seem like a big deal.