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To B or not to B*

Do Black lives matter or do black lives matter? The Beacon editorial staff was conflicted about whether or not to capitalize “Black” when referring to the racial group. In our February issue, The Beacon staff decided to capitalize “Black.” By doing so, we were hoping to start a discussion among the Wilson community and to give students the opportunity to think about the issue and formulate their own opinions. While we generally follow the style guidelines of the Associated Press, we want our important and controversial grammatical choices to reflect the student body we represent.

Many argue for the capitalization of Black because they believe the word “Black” is symbolic not just of a racial group, but of a unique culture and identity. They believe that by not capitalizing Black, the mainstream media is ignoring an integral part of American culture, a culture that has been oppressed for generations and deserves recognition with a capital letter.

People are opposed to capitalizing black primarily out of desire for grammatical consistency. The Associated Press capitalizes both “African-American” and “Caucasian,” two terms for people of a geographical origin that are often connected to the racial terms, black and white. Racial groups are typically not capitalized, there is no national argument for the capitalization of white, so many news organizations argue that black should not be an exception to the rule.

The Beacon has an ambiguous position on capitalizing black. While our own style guide previously said that we should capitalize Black when used as an adjective and keep it as lower-case when it was used as a noun, we often did not obey our own rules and stuck to the norm of lowercase. We want the input of Wilson students to help us make our decision on capitalizing Black. Please read the various links below and give us your opinions when we come to your class with a survey or send us an email at

The Beacon strives to represent the voice of the student body; speak up and let yours be heard.