Today is my birthday. I am over age 40. I own my home, have three healthy children and a job I absolutely love. In a nutshell, I don’t need any presents this year, but still there’s something I want more than anything in this world. And that is respect. I am still waiting for the mainstream media, specifically publishers of printed materials, including magazine, newspaper and book publishers to agree to capitalize the B when referring to Black people in the United States. I have written blog posts and opinion pieces about this lack of respect for Black Americans. I have appeared on a radio show and started a campaign on Change.org. So, today I’m taking my cause a step further.
As of today, February 10, 2015, I am demoting myself to the lowercase. I will no longer use the uppercase when signing my name. Until the New York Times and the Associated Press changes their policy to capitalize the B in Black, I will be known as lori l. tharps. I will not go on a hunger strike, nor will I march in the streets (yet), mainly because I have to protest in a way that I know I can continue to fight until the battle has been won. As a mother, an educator and a writer, I feel my protests are most effective on the page.
I begin this journey of living my life in the lowercase, hopeful that it will be over in weeks not years. I am adamant that I will not be moved until my people have been granted the respect of the uppercase. (Ironically a respect that was granted to us when we were Negroes and Colored.) I have a new book coming out in 2016 and I hope I will be able to see my name on the front cover in the uppercase and that every signature I sign will also be written with capital letters. I am a writer. I know words matter. Labels matter. Black life matters. And it should matter in the uppercase.
lori l tharps