Associate Press changes writing style to capitalise ‘b’ in Black

(Photo: Atlantic)

The Associated Press has changed its writing style guide to capitalise the “b” in the term “Black “when referring to people in a racial, ethnic or cultural context, weighing in on a hotly debated issue.

AP’s vice-president of standards, John Daniszewski said the revisions aligned with long-standing identifiers such as Latino, Asian American and Native American. He said the decision followed more than two years of research and debate among AP journalists and outside groups and thinkers.

According to Daniszewski, the change conveys “an essential and shared sense of history, identity and community among people who identify as Black, including those in the African Diaspora and within Africa,”

“The lowercase black is a colour, not a person.” he added.

The news organisation will also now capitalise Indigenous in reference to original inhabitants of a place.

“Our discussions on style and language consider many points, including the need to be inclusive and respectful in our storytelling and the evolution of language,” he wrote in a blog post on Friday. “We believe this change serves those ends.”

The AP said it expects to make a decision within a month on whether to capitalise the term white. Among the considerations are what that change might mean outside the United States.

An ongoing debate over capitalisation of Black accelerated in many US newsrooms in recent weeks as journalists grappled with massive protests and sweeping changes in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police.