a reader writes

A reader commented on how, in A Sane Woman, you don't know right away that Sam and Sarah Little are Black, then he also commented on the fact that I always capitalize "Black" when I'm referring to a person's race.

I remember when I read Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein, and I realized more than halfway through the book that the protagonist was Black. It was a wonderful way of showing that, in that future society, race really didn't matter anymore. Later on, Samuel R. Delany wrote that reading Starship Troopers, and realizing the same thing, was one of the things which made him want to write science fiction.

As for why I capitalize "Black" (and not "white"), that goes back to the early 1990s, when I was on a group of local BBSs in this area, and I encountered a man named Earl. Earl always capitalized "Black," and when people asked why, he said that, in this country, to be Black is to be part of a shared history and culture and experience, in a way that being white is not. He said that being Black, in this country, is more like being Italian-American, or Jewish, or Puerto Rican. This was a persuasive argument.

Also on the question of capitalization, I'm waiting for somebody to comment on the fact that the word "god" is not consistently capitalized in the novels. Sometimes it's initial cap, sometimes it's lower case. There's a reason for that.

When somebody who believes in god uses the word, they are referring to something specific, as if they are saying "Jan Sleet," or "The Lord of the Rings," or "The Chrysler Building." Those are all capitalized, because they are the names of specific things.

On the other hand, if you don't believe in god, it is a generic term, like "person," or "book," or "building." In the history of the world, there have been many different gods.

So, when Jan Sleet, who is an atheist, says "god," it is not capitalized. When someone else does, if they believe (in any particular god), it is capitalized.

Oh, and why is "starling" never capitalized, even when it begins a sentence? I have no idea. If you have a problem with that, take it up with her.

I think eventually I will put together a FAQ (or, really, a SAQ, since the questions are hardly "Frequently Asked").

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