By Thomas Mitchell
That’s Discriminatory — with a capital D.
A month ago The Associated Press edited its Stylebook to declare that the word black, “when referring to people in a racial, ethnic or cultural context,” should be capitalized in news stories. The Stylebook is almost universally followed in newsrooms. It is gospel.
John Daniszewski, AP’s vice president of standards, said at the time that this change conveys “an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African diaspora and within Africa. The lowercase black is a color, not a person.”
The AP said it would decide within a month whether to also capitalize white when referring to people. On Monday, the AP announced it would not capitalize white when referring to people. Daniszewski’s rationale was contorted.
“We agree that white people’s skin color plays into systemic inequalities and injustices, and we want our journalism to robustly explore these problems,” he wrote in a memo to staff Monday. “But capitalizing the term white, as is done by white supremacists, risks subtly conveying legitimacy to such beliefs.”
Legitimacy to white supremacists? What about consistency? What about equal treatment?
The dithering and navel gazing began shortly after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, while being arrested by police. This resulted in protests and riots and the tearing down of statues and the near universal presumption of systemic racism, though evidence of this was entirely lacking.
What’s fair is fair. This decision by AP is kowtowing to the blindly stampeding herd and distorting the language in an Orwellian manner, conveying editorialization instead of fair and objective reporting.
The definition of racism is: “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.”
This is tantamount to capitalizing Woman to recognize the gender’s significant contributions and hurdles, but lower casing man lest one
propagates systemic and malignant masculinity.
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Thomas Mitchell is a former newspaper editor who now writes conservative/libertarian columns for weekly papers in Nevada. You may email Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org. He blogs at http://4thst8.wordpress.com/.