The Daily will commit to a change in its style guide pertaining to the capitalization of the word “black.” We will start capitalizing the word black when using it to describe racial, ethnic, and cultural identities. This change will be made out of respect for and in recognition of Black being not just a skin colour, but a cultural identity.
In Canada and the U.S., Black identity is often based on cultural and communal histories, wherein racialization has played a significant role. When peoples of the African diaspora first arrived in the Americas, colonizers grouped them together homogeneously as African, and later black – as a means of distinguishing from whiteness. Over the years, however, Black thinkers have imbued this arbitrary label with a powerful meaning, and have been calling for capitalization. Out of respect for this long history, we will be capitalizing black when referring to people who self-identify as Black.
This change – discussed, though not yet accepted, by major newspapers in Canada and the U.S. – is widely accepted in academic style guides, such as the American Psychological Association (APA) style guide. Following The Daily’s Statement of Principles, we are mandated to take on anti-oppressive stances not only in our coverage, but also in our language. While we recognize that The Daily is not an anti-oppressive space yet, we see this as part of working toward fulfilling our mandate.
As a majority-white editorial board, we do recognize that this style guide change should not be strictly enforced, but rather serve as a guideline. We would like to emphasize that self-identification is paramount to our style guide and that we will respect people’s own terms of identification over our style guide, as best as we can. We would like to encourage discussion, questions and criticism on this topic. With this in mind, you can leave a comment online, email us at email@example.com, or send a letter (300 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
—The McGill Daily Editorial Board