This post set off a lot of conversation around the Afrosphere and elsewhere and is obviously a hot button issue. The discussion has run the gamut from those who follow the Associated Press' stylebook in reference to capitalization of ethnic groups, to those who just don't capitalize the word at anytime, for any reason. In a comment left at the post and in a posting at the American Journal of Color Arousal, Francis Holland, elaborating on his theory of Color Aroused Ideation stated:
When "Black" is not capitalized, it conforms to the idea that there is a "black race" that is fundamentally biologically different from the "white race", biologically in significant ways, ways other than skin color. When Black is capitalized, it is an assertion that "Black" is really a different political and social identity rather than a biologically different sub-genus of the human species.
Hmmm. An interesting theory and analysis, no doubt. But there were other opinions expressed as well. In reference to why he doesn't capitalize the letter "B'" in Black, the Field Negro wrote:
...because it's a color designation and not a reference to a race or nationality. ...If i am referring to an Asian, a Native American, a Caucasian, or a Negro, i will always capitalize, because that is an ethnic designation. But if i am referring to someones supposed color, well, as my man Borat says; "not so much"
Well, obviously we don't agree on that point, but that post set off one heck of a discussion in his comments section. Take a look for yourself. This is a hot button issue for sure, so I want to take the time to lay out my position on this issue in as clear a fashion as I can to hopefully advance the discussion. My opinion can be boiled down to one sentence.
--If you don't know ya name, anybody can call you anything and you'll answer.--
Reading over the various comments from bloggers, I have come to the conclusion that perhaps one of the most fundamental issues facing our community is “What ARE we??”
Are we "Blacks", "African Americans", "African-Americans", "Negroes", "ni--ers" "niggas", or what?
Should it be capitalized? Should it not be capitalized? Why was our preferred racial designation selected? Why were others rejected? WHAT and WHY? How can you expect people to call you by your name if they don’t know what your name is? How can they know your name if YOU don’t know?
Come on, People!” (Or, should I say, “Come on, people.”) It’s time. WHAT ARE WE?
And, let’s try to settle it for good this time. Changing racial identity every generation only creates the environment for oppressors to "de-niggar-rate" us every chance they get. Let's stop letting others define us as they see fit according to the "policies" they set pretty much for that exact purpose. Let’s also stop defining our own selves by monikers.
Don’t you at least want to leave that inheritance to our children?
Because, I assure you, if you were born in American with dark skin pigmentation, you’re a n---er if they can’t call you anything else. So, what do you want the world to call you?