Why we’re capitalizing the B in Black
National Association of Black Journalists updates its style guide, and we are, too.
Last weekend, I received an email from Karen Lincoln Michel, our former publisher and executive editor, who was getting in touch to share the good news: The National Association of Black Journalists had released the statement our team at Madison Magazine had been waiting for — NABJ announced it’s time to officially capitalize the B in Black.
“The organization believes it is important to capitalize ‘Black’ when referring to (and out of respect for) the Black diaspora,” the June 11 release reads. NABJ had been integrating the capitalization of the word in its communication for the last year, and formally updated the organization’s style guide and recommends it be adopted across the news industry.
This was welcome news to our team. Madison Magazine adheres to the Associated Press Stylebook, but consults the NABJ Style Guide as well as the NAJA Style Guide (developed by the Native American Journalists Association) on certain word usage, punctuation and style.
The AP Stylebook has yet to update its style (after releasing its latest edition last month), and there as been criticism. “The call to capitalize Black follows a longstanding struggle for Black respect and justice,” writes David Lanham, the director of communications at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, in an open letter to AP.
Madison Magazine takes word usage seriously and strives to tell stories using correct and appropriate language. We’re not waiting for AP to make the call to change our in-house style, but we surely hope AP recognizes the need for an update soon. Editor’s Note: Hours after this article published, AP announced its style change:
July was our last issue in which you will see lowercased usage — the word “Black” when referring to race will be capitalized moving forward. We are unable to update every one of our archived articles on the web, but we will make updates as often as we’re able and as we come across those stories in which the word is referenced.
In addition to introducing this new style change, I’d like to introduce the magazine’s Black Lives Matter page. We’ve created this in an effort to elevate and celebrate Black stories, articles related to racial justice and other topics that have to do with today’s conversation surrounding equality, equity and representation. We have compiled cover stories, profiles, Q&As and other pieces of content that have run in the magazine and on channel3000.com or madisonmagazine.com.
We hope this page helps readers stay connected to what’s happening today, as well as learn about local Black people, businesses and efforts that add vibrancy to the community. Black stories are Madison’s stories, and the magazine will continue to share Black voices within our pages and on our website.