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28 March 2023



"Black"-- especially for Black Americans, as we have had our ethnic identities stripped from us and have had to create our own-- is an ethnicity and a culture. We would capitalize any other ethnicity, so Black should be capitalized as well. It's also a matter of respect and a nod to the history of Black folks, not only in the U.S., but worldwide.


Well said, Tea. As Kathryn put it, we all agree about the capitalization of Black. It's really just white vs. White that's still an open question. Authoritative sources are very split on it, and there seem to be good arguments for either approach.


This is absolutely ridiculous.

‘Black’ is an adjective therefore the rules of the English language means it is not capitalised - unless it is used as the first word in a sentence, as I just did. The same is true for every other adjective used to describe any other group of humans.

If you want the DDC to be truly international, you really have to put aside all this American political nonsense. American racism, the woke response to it, and the anti-woke response to THAT, is irrelevant to *every other country in the entire world*. The insanity of American identity politics has no place in a library catalog.


While I wouldn't quite put it in the same terms as Susan, I do think it's an important question to consider - what does the international community need/want? The discourse in North America is very different from the discourse in other parts of the world, and the DDC is striving to become less West-centric, right?

I certainly don't see a problem with capitalizing "Black", just like Tea said - I capitalize "Jewish", "French", etc. There are many different "kinds" of Black people, just like there are many different "kinds" of Jewish people, so I think we can make this equivalency. Capitalizing "White" seems fair, although (as a Eastern-European Jew), I don't like it because it does seem to draw attention to racial constructs. That said, let's think about when the word would be used. It seems that it would mainly be used when discussing racially constructed groups: Black, Asian, etc. So it does make sense to extend the capitalization practice to White as well.

More broadly, I do hope that this endless worrying and debating over terminologies will become less heated and less central in the near future. Whether you would refer to me as a Jew, or Jewish person, or person of Jewish ancestry - I don't care one bit, as long as you treat me as a fellow human being deserving of respect.


Alex, yes, you're correct. I typed and re-typed my response several times, so I ended up deleting my point about "white". As it is not a culture, it shouldn't be capitalized. Racially white folks tend to identify with their culture, so it's not quite the same.



"Black is an adjective"... meanwhile, so is French, yet IT is capitalized.

I have no knowledge of this "woke response" of which you speak. Racism isn't a uniquely American phenomenon and neither is anti-Blackness. If racism were irrelevant to every other country in the world -- especially anti-Black racism-- we wouldn't be seeing football fans throw bananas on the field while Black players are playing.


Black is term that has been widely adopted by many Africans and people of African descent to describe themselves and so the capitalization makes sense. On the other hand "white" is a relative term often used to mean "non-Black", non-person of colour", "non-Asian looking", etc. Perhaps theoretically it means "of European descent", but it is usually applied according to what is perceived as a person's skin colour. It is simply a catch-all term and does not refer to a cultural, ethnic, national or heritage self-identified group, so it should not be capitalized

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