Capitalizing Race

Momentous Institute has decided to capitalize all references to race including Black and White. Read more...

By Momentous Institute | Jul 10, 2020
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At Momentous Institute, we pay careful attention to the language we use to describe the students, families and communities with whom we collaborate. We aim to be respectful, inclusive and strengths-focused. We also aim to be learning-centered, which means we recognize that we are not the experts on how other people choose to self-identify, and we have to be prepared to adapt to a changing landscape.

With this in mind, Momentous Institute has decided that in our internal and external communications, we will capitalize all references to race including: Black, Latino/Latina/Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, Indigenous, Native and White. We will continue to capitalize ethnic or nationality identifiers such as Mexican or Canadian. We will also be proactive about allowing individuals to self-identify.

The Associated Press recently changed their writing style guide to capitalize Black and Indigenous when referencing a person of people’s race ethnicity or culture. However, they did not choose to capitalize White. While traditionally we follow The Associated Press’ capitalization rules, we disagree with their decision to not capitalize White. We feel it is critical to listen to the nonprofits and organizations working in this space as thought leaders. Both Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) and the Center for the Study of Social Policy recommend capitalizing White. Many organizations, including The New York Times, are choosing not to capitalize White as it is often capitalized by white supremacy groups. However, we believe that widely capitalizing White in the same context as Black takes some of that power away.

We know this is a divisive decision as there are many schools of thought on what is appropriate. We also acknowledge that we have not previously had an agency stance on this issue and recognize that as we continue to learn more, we will need to acknowledge past missteps and strive to continually do better. We will continue to be learning-centered in our posture towards our agency voice and will continue to monitor trends, elevate the voices of communities and adapt to an ever-changing landscape.