"But really, it’s less about what you say you are (“I merit a capital B!”) than what you show you can do.”

Take 1: In moviemaking "show, don't tell" is a maxim. I could interpret that as saying that performing admirably, or just well, is the more effective path to genuine respect and success, than changing the labels in minor symbolic ways. A reasonable belief.

Take 2: There are a number of changes being pushed by the Elect which do not appear to have much real traction on changing behaviors or outcomes, this among them. Consider the real estate industry working to remove "master" (as in master bedroom) from all of their literature and speech - how much will that really change anything on the ground? (There are many other examples). Are there many Black folks who really fail to succeed in society because they are too triggered by continued encounters with the word "master" used in any context, and who now will feel more included and thus successful?

Those "symbolic" demands strike me as more about demonstrating soft yet coercive power in the social domain. "See, we can make you change something by becoming upset if you don't" - the thing being changed in such a demonstration doesn't need to be meaningful on the ground, only visible. Or from the other end, about responding to the demand in a way which doesn't cost very much, an easy way to deflect negative attention or signal political virtue.

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"However, language, as the life it depicts and mediates, is messy, and “White” has been adopted by white nationalists as a label for whites committed to defending their race from the barbarity of other ones in a country that needs to be Made Great Again."

Well, "Black" has been adopted by black separatists and racial tribalists who feel pretty much the same as the white nationalists about the desirability of an integrated nation. The notion that there is something essentially sinister in "Make America Great Again" because of its nostalgia for the past which is inevitably more racist is ridiculous, unless you want to make "Bring Back Better" sinister as well, or all the nostalgia from the typical Biden voter for Roosevelt and the New Deal. The Golden Age for "conservatives" is like the 1950s and the 80s. The Golden Age for "liberals" is the 1930s. The 1930s were not just more racist, but it was also a time when the federal government dramatically expanded in power and the executive specifically exercised an atypical amount of centralized control over policy. And one thing congress and Roosevelt didn't do, despite all the consolidated power, was pass anti-lynching legislation despite it being promoted by Roosevelt's wife and his Republican political opponent Wendell Willkie in the 1940 presidential race. Yet we keep hearing about the "Green New Deal."

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“But really, it’s less about what you say you are (“I merit a capital B!”) than what you show you can do.” Exactly.

“Behavior is truth.” Andrew Vachss

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I think most white ppl would consider capitalizing white as a way to make it equal to the “new Black” without a thought about how “White” nationalists have already taken its capitalization, tarnishing it by association. I myself didn’t think (or know) of that linkage till you brought it up.

What I did feel when I first noticed the new Black with the old “white” - in the NYTimes - was resentful. It came within the peaking context of an undeserved awesomeness conferred upon BLM from the mean streets to Wall Street and a relentless cultural high tide of excessive sensitivity as to how to behave toward or about black people, concurrent with harsh critiques & worse for white people and things associated with them. They were snap judged & worse - canceled/fired - for micro or, really, non aggressions, for, as you said, not “toeing the line”. More of this cultural context entailed the riots & abusive protests that dragged on, unraveling my city’s & other cities’ progress before my eyes (NYCer, longtime) The seeds for all this had been sown & cultivated, built up over time, and were now uncorked by the dreadful killing of George Floyd. Such a non proportional response. So much damage, so stupidly done.

So that - and more, too much to say here - was the context of my brain as the new Black jumped out at me (from the pages of the NYTimes, no less, in all its complicity). I found it artificially aggrandized & offensive. That initially strong reaction has muted over time. Still, since I’m not under editorial management, I won’t be using it.

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Just discovered this wonderful depiction of escaping from wokeness

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The more important part of this is the discussion of “African-American.” I am glad Black is gaining in popularity again. African-American has always been a bit alienating and flattening for Black people in the US of immigrant extraction, who are an ever-growing percentage of Black people in the US.

Caribbean Black immigrants, for instance, who form (with their children) a large plurality or majority of the Black population in cities like New York, Miami, and Boston, have an immediate country of origin that defines them more clearly and represents a culture they were actually raised in. When they hyphenate themselves, they would often be more comfortable calling themselves Jamaican-American or Haitian-American than some very abstract term like African-American. And the word was never really meant to be applied to the “real” African-Americans, like Nigerian or Ghanaian immigrants, who ironically have come to use this term to mean descendants of Black American slaves and rarely apply it to themselves.

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... "Of course, we could decide that more civilized whites could pretend the Nationalists don’t exist and use 'White' anyway." ...

I need not and so I don't "pretend the Nationalists don't exist" but that doesn't deter me from using "White" since, as I see it, there is nothing wrong with doing so.

"However, one senses that today’s idea that one is soiled by even implied association with racists and racism will render this idea beyond consideration, at least for a while."

The foolish assumptions of others and the blinkered misunderstandings which spring from them are not (necessarily) my problem. If others choose to suppose that my use of "White" is a safe indication that I must subscribe to White supremacist groups' beliefs, that's their fault and their problem.

RE: “Say it out loud, I’m Black and I’m proud”

Since, of course and obviously, no one chooses his "race" or skin-color at birth, being "proud" of it has always struck me as frankly, stupid and racistly so just as the same thing said by Whites (or any other supposed racial identity) should have done --or does.

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"So, Black is better. But why not “White” in parallel? I would prefer it, in fact, if Black is here to stay. However, language, as the life it depicts and mediates, is messy, and “White” has been adopted by white nationalists as a label for whites committed to defending their race from the barbarity of other ones in a country that needs to be Made Great Again."

And is it not ironic that the notion of "whiteness" is being drilled into the skulls of the white population by the left in an effort to remind them that white is in fact what they are. Yeah, I know, the left claims that whiteness is merely a state of mind, but that's not what the average white dude who never really had much of a racial identity to speak of is hearing. What he hears is "you're white, you're evil, and we're coming to get you". With the help of the media, the internet, and the god's driving our popular culture I suspect that whites in short order will get the message and awake to their assigned identity. I also believe most won't fall to their knees and in an act of contrition but instead will offer up a collective middle finger and resist with a great sense of resentment . And that scares the hell out of me.

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I'm happy to use Black simply because it creates a nice parallel with other categories of the same type -- Asian, Latino, Indian, etc.

And I'll fine with giving White the same treatment, white supremacist screeds be damned. I don't know what their grammatical habits are because I don't read them.

That said, both are just the positions I take in active contemplation mode. In casual conversation, it's going to end up being black and white nine times out of ten, especially if there isn't an Asian or Latino or Indian around to draw my attention to the incongruity.

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Excellent take on this John. I am writing a post now that touches on this subject obliquely. Much of my writing at riclexel.substack.com explores the topic of tribalism, which is really what people mean when they say racism. I capitalize white or black when I am referring to a specific person. When I am writing about a group of same-skin-colored people, i don't capitalize.

But imagine, if we called every person by their color? Would we stand for that? blacks, yellows, reds, browns, lattes, orange, and, of course, white.

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TK News with Matt Taibbi had an article just before this in my feed talking, in part, about capitalizing "white" and "black." It's behind a paywall, so I'll just point out what I find interesting: here they don't want to capitalize "white" because it is associated with white nationalism, but in the Taibbi article the SJW's suggest white people should have to capitalize "white" to own their "race" and its "history." The Taibbi article is also interesting because it includes an interview with Wesley Yang about what he terms "Successor Ideology," which boils down to a bunch of people justifying their existence by trying to tear down *everything* that came before and tying us all up in knots over words.

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The social justice writer Anne Much had an interesting take on the matter of capitalization: https://annemuch.medium.com/respect-for-black-lives-starts-with-capitalizing-the-n-word-bb9beb943047

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I would recommend people look at Eli Steele's film "How Jack Became Black" to see the level to which the bureaucracy of racial categorization has reached in the U.S. Can something like the Nuremberg Race Laws be far behind? We all know how badly that ended.

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I agree with the writer who said capitalizing "Black" leads to othering. I prefer lowercasing both "white" and "black" to take the emphasis off race. I'm looking for a return to the belief in a colorblind world in which hearts and minds are won and persons, not groups, are held responsible for their beliefs and actions.

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I remain comfortable always using black to refer to African Americans.

However, recently I am starting to baulk at being called "white". The term is becoming synonymous with "white supremacist" and implying skin colour privilege. I'm sensing that “white” is segueing into a slur.

If I referred to all Asians as just “Asians” – ie Filipinos, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese +++ as one big lumped together stereotype, having nothing but skin colour, black hair and slanted eyes in common - I am sure this would cause the same sense of indignation to individual Asians of specific nationality and cultural heritage as I do to be designated into a heterogenous “white” category?

“White” ppl are just as diverse as Asians in our backgrounds, nationalities and world views. Even within national borders groups of "white" people can have distinct regional differences.

I refuse to answer to white anymore. I'm choosing to call myself "pacifica".

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If people want to capitalize Black, that's fine with me. I get that Black people feel a sense of identity (in part because it's been forced on them historically, but nevertheless) and if capitalizing the word as a way of recognizing or validating that identity appeals to people, sure, why not? Personally, for myself, I do not feel any particular sense of identity as a white person, and I'm a bit suspicious of those that do, because they usually seem to be "White Nationalists", i.e. white supremacists, or to reduce it to a word, racists, and I don't feel any connection to such people. So I don't think that capitalizing Black necessarily means we should capitalize white too. The words seem comparable but they really aren't.

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