Capital Punishment

This is the first time I’m reading a book that follows the new rule about capitalizing “black,” and it’s confusing.

“She had Black skin and brown eyes.”

“Jimmy and two Black girls came up to her.”

It’s a good thing there isn’t a character whose last name is Black. “Johnny Black was Black.” Or better yet, “Johnny Brown was Black.”

10 thoughts on “Capital Punishment

  1. Hey, Clarissa, a definitely clever play on the term Capital Punishment!

    And a relief — I thought when I saw the post title that I was going to have to state my position on the U.S. death penalty, right after opposing the apparent majority view on your blog that we should turn the other cheek when our deployed personnel are militarily attacked by bad actors like Iran.

    Now I can give a less controversial answer to your specific Capital Punishment meme: Follow standard grammar rules, and keep non-proper adjectives like “black,” “brown,” “white,” “yellow,” and “red,” (assuming the latter two are even allowed anymore) in lower case where they belong.

    (3:30 a.m. in Arizona, so it’s bedtime. Goodnight!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so like my cool post titles but nobody notices them. So thanks for noticing. 🙂

      I wonder why I always struggle so much with titles for my published work.


  2. Is this an academic text or a usual novel for mass consumption?

    If it’s the latter, I imagine the confusion among Israeli and other foreign readers, who know English well enough to read w/o translation. Quite a few will be confused and think it’s a typo at first.

    If the capital Black designates belonging to African-American culture, why should ‘B’ be capitalized when describing not Americans with not white skin? It’s not like there is one African culture of ‘Blacks’; there are hundreds. And many Middle-Eastern peoples don’t look white.

    As for Johnny, why not “Johnny White was Black” ?


    1. It’s a mystery novel from a bestselling author. And it is, indeed, very confusing, especially since the Black characters in the novel aren’t even African Americans.


      1. // It’s a mystery novel from a bestselling author.

        I am a bit surprised an established, successful author went there among the first. One would expect YA / ‘minority’ novels new authors to do it.

        May be, this author didn’t even want to do that, but was strongly advised to do so by publishers.


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