Should you capitalize White? (yes)

I gave a written interview to questions posed to me by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, that asked for my thoughts on the recent Duke symposium the hosted “Living While Black at Duke.

I capitalized both White and Black in my response to questions, but the interview was edited to capitalize Black, but not white following Duke University’s style guide. Many style guides are in the process of changing and this debate has been ongoing for some time.

I have come to capitalize Black and White, because both are identities. It has taken me some time to understand White as an identity–I used to think of it as a fact, or a default, or I really didn’t think about being White at all.

Both White and Black are identities, whose meanings differ across people, and that change across time. This isn’t bad, just a reality.

White and Black are identities.

white and black are colors in the pallette.

About Don Taylor
Professor of Public Policy (with appointments in Business, Nursing, Community and Family Medicine, and the Duke Clinical Research Institute), and Chair of the Academic Council at Duke University . I am one of the founding faculty of the Margolis Center for Health Policy. My research focuses on improving care for persons who are dying, and I am co-PI of a CMMI award in Community Based Palliative Care. I teach both undergrads and grad students at Duke. On twitter @donaldhtaylorjr

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