The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #7003   Message #2116155
Posted By: Azizi
31-Jul-07 - 11:59 PM
Thread Name: Origins: When the Saints Go Marching In
Subject: RE: When the Saints
When I wrote my comment about the Black version of the song "When The Saints go Marching In", I didn't mean it to refer to the composer J. M. Black. I meant that word as a group referent for people of African descent. The fact that that White composer's last name was Black was something I had skimmed over and forgotten when I wrote that comment.

Mostly off topic:

As a matter of information, I capitalize the first letter of the group referents "Black" and "White" because I recall the strenous efforts that folks made in the 1950s to get "Negro" [the former referent for Black Americans] capitalized as other group referents such as English, Scottish, Chinese, Spanish were routinely capitalized while "Negro" was almost always written with a small "n". The position of folks who successfully advocated for the first letter in the word "Negro" to be capitalized was that failure to do so conveyed the message that folks thought that "Negroes" were less than people who "belonged to" other racial and ethnic groups.

Since "Black" is an informal referent for the same group of people as "Negro" {though the informal term "Black" includes people other than Americans having some African descent}, it seems logical to me to capitalize that word. And since I capitalize the "B" in "Black" when I'm using it as a group referent, it also seems logical to me to capitalize the "W" in "White" when I'm using it as a group referent. However, I'm aware this is not the norm in mainstream media or even in Black oriented media, though I have seen the group referent "Black" capitalized by other Black writers and sometimes also by non-Black writers. Btw, when the uncapitalized word "negro" is used by Black writers to refer to other Black folks, it's meant as an insult which speaks to that person's social/political "Uncle Tom-ism" [and/or "Aunt Jemima-ism" attitudes and/or actions or lack of actions on behalf of themself and/or other Black people. The same negative connotations aren't associated with the uncapitalized group referent "black".

As a matter of record, for at least 20 years now, "African American" has been the formal group referent for Black Americans.


And just as there are White people whose last names is "Black", there are Black people whose last names is "White". Here's an example of a Black man whose last name was White:

Walter White


Here's a clicky for the song that Q mentioned which was composed by J. M. Black: