Wednesday, June 4, 2008<

"Black" v. "Black Candidate"

I checked the NY Times and Washington Post websites last night after Obama officially clinched and they both said something to the effect of "first black to lead a major party."

This struck me as a somewhat brusque way of addressing Obama's race. I would have expected something more along the lines of "first black candidate for President from a major party" or "first black nominee on a major ticket."

There is something harsh about referring to someone as a "black" rather than a "black candidate." While the substance of the statement is the same, using race as a noun rather than as a adjective makes it seem so all defining, rather than simply acting as a modifier.

Interestingly, the NY Times story online now uses the "black candidate" construction.

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At August 2, 2008 at 2:50 AM , Blogger NG said...

I see that you've done the same thing occasionally, including in a previous post about race.

In the case of the newspapers, it probably has everything to do with the nature of limited headline real estate and nothing to do with journalists thinking it's acceptable to call someone "a black."

As much to my ears as to yours, "black" and "white" sound crude when deployed as nouns in the singular and, oddly, a little less crude in the plural.


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