Those of you who opened Friday’s issue of The Christian Science Monitor Daily will have glimpsed Ken Makin’s column. From the 1870s to today, it charts the efforts of African American leaders to demand the word “Black” be capitalized.
There are a variety of arguments, but Ken focuses on the one that matters most: Language is not simply a collection of grammatical rules; it conveys how we see the world.
To many in white America, “black” might seem simply a modifier – a description of color. To many African Americans, the word “Black” is a declaration of defiance – an insistence on the humanity and value of a community that too often has been made to feel like strangers in their own country. “The capitalization of the ‘B’ in Black when it comes to race is a cultural, political, and spiritual act,” Ken writes. “It gives power to the idea of being Black in opposition to and defiance of white supremacy and a white-dominated society.”
The power of recent weeks has been the demand to listen humbly – the Monitor included. So after considering the decision from different perspectives, the Monitor is now capitalizing Black. The goal is not to value one race over another, but the opposite. In better cherishing the Black experience in America, we recognize its unique role and seek firmer footing for genuine equality and freedom.