Announcement from Multiplatform Editing Chief Jesse Lewis, Deputy Multiplatform Editor Courtney Rukan and Multiplatform Editor Brian Cleveland:

Beginning immediately, The Washington Post will uppercase the B in Black to identify the many groups that make up the African diaspora in America and elsewhere. This decision comes after extensive discussions with members of our own news organization, consultations with editors in other newsrooms nationwide and evaluations of commentary and analyses by numerous thought leaders and organizations of influence in the Black community. The use of Black is a recognition and acknowledgment not only of the cultural bonds and historical experiences shared by people of African heritage, but also the shared struggles of the descendants of enslaved people, families who immigrated generations ago and more recent immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and other corners of the world.

In addition to the use of the uppercase B for Black, Post coverage recognizes there are individuals who prefer not to confine themselves to identity based solely on the color of their skin. Just as the U.S. Census asks individuals to categorize themselves by race, ethnicity and nationality, in our journalism, people will have the opportunity to identify as Black, African American and biracial, or something more ethnically specific, such as Afro-Latino, Ethiopian American or other national identifiers, a reflection of the many cultures and backgrounds that constitute this vast community.

This style change also prompts the question of how America’s largest racial community should be identified. Stories involving race show that White also represents a distinct cultural identity in the United States. In American history, many White Europeans who entered the country during times of mass migration were the targets of racial and ethnic discrimination. These diverse ethnicities were eventually assimilated into the collective group that has had its own cultural and historical impact on the nation. As such, White should be represented with a capital W. In accordance with our style change, people who do not want to be recognized as a color also have the choice of representing themselves by their cultural background, as they currently do, identifying as German American, Irish American, Italian American or other representations of national heritage.

Separately, we will limit the uppercase version of the racial categorization Brown to direct quotations and use it sparingly in other instances. Although the term has gained general acceptance, the designation is seen by many as a catchall to describe people of color of vastly diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds who are not Black.

In the three above cases, our style guidance recognizes these racial demographics have been inexorably linked when analyzing America’s development and treatment of its citizens. As such, they should be treated similarly in terms of capitalization. However, other colors as racial identifiers have not been commonly adopted by members of the ethnic groups they are often used to portray, as many consider the terms insults or slurs. Those identifiers will remain lowercase.

In general, racial identification and ethnic background should not be mentioned unless they are clearly relevant, such as in stories about civil rights, problems or achievements of people of color, cultural history and similar topics.

Separately, political terms used to promote racist ideologies or to advocate ethnic superiority or separation should remain lowercase (i.e. white supremacist, black nationalist). And in crime stories, where cultural and historical identity aren’t key to a suspect’s actions, use the lowercase versions of black, white and brown as race descriptors.

The Post will use other racial and ethnic identifiers as follows:

American Indian, Native American or Alaska Native – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.

Asian American – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Hispanic or LatinoHispanic refers to people who speak Spanish and/or are descended from Spanish-speaking populations. Latino and Latina refer to people who are from or descended from people from Latin America. Use the gender neutral Latinx if someone identifies that way. This category includes Spaniard, Chicano and Puerto Rican, as well as other national identifiers.

Indigenous or Aboriginal peoples – Both are uppercase when referring to the original peoples of other nations.

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander – A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands.