I’m Black, not black…Aren’t I???

So, the title of this post could be interpreted in a couple of different ways. However, no I’m not confused about my race or ethnicity but rather the way my race is described in the context of literary writing and grammar.

Often characters in novels are described by their physical features. You know, long flowing blonde hair or curly dark hair. Tall and slender or short and curvy. When the skin color of a character is described authors often use words like bronze or olive. Occasionally an author will describe a person by their race and say black. Am I wrong in believing that there is a difference between black (lower case b) and Black (upper case B).

I would say that I am Black. I am a person who belongs to a group of other people who use this title to describe ourselves, therefore, am I not a proper noun and should be described with an uppercase B? When I think of black, I think of the color, an adjective, and just like naming any color or adjective it should be a lowercase b.

Yet, when I often read novels I see Black characters described as black. You may think I’m being too literal or too politically correct. But, this truly bothers me as a Black person. To lowercase my race and describe me as black feels belittling. It feels like a put down. It feels like an interpretation of less than. I have even seen other Black people describe themselves in their writing as black. Why? Is this a grammatical shortcoming? Is this an accepted part of writing? Or maybe no one has cared enough to bring it up.

This post is for all of my writers: past, present, future. For all of you literary enthusiast and avid readers. The next time you read a novel or book and they describe a person as black, I want you to think of this post and implore them to change it to Black. Especially, if you find my points have some validity. If they need a reason, please refer them to this post. I’m tired of reading a novel and then come across black as a description of a character. Every time  I see that lowercase b used to describe a character’s race, I feel a little tug in my chest and it turns me off to the rest of the story. It’s my gut instinct telling me that this isn’t right.

So, what do you think? I’m Black, not black…aren’t I?


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