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NABJ Style Guide B
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babys mama, babys daddy: Slang to imply parenthood out of wedlock. Avoid usage.

Baptist church: Black people were allowed to join the Baptist fold starting in the 1770s. Slave preachers were instituted to minister to slaves on plantations in the South while black people in the North slowly became members of congregations. Black Baptists continued to organize their own congregations and associations throughout the 19th century. Today, there are more than 20 Baptist bodies in America. The largest, the Southern Baptist Convention, has 12 million members, mostly in the South, although it has churches in all 50 states. The largest Northern body is the American Baptist Church in the U.S.A., with about 1.5 million members. Blacks predominate in three large Baptist bodies, the National Baptist Convention of America, National Baptist Convention U.S.A. Inc., and Progressive National Baptist Convention Inc. Baptist clergy members may be referred to as ministers. Pastor applies if a minister leads a congregation. On first reference, use the Rev. before the persons name. On second reference, use the persons last name.

bias, discrimination: Bias is a state of mind, a prepossession or prejudice toward an object, person or view. Discrimination is an action that springs from that state of mind; the unfair treatment of a person or group based on prejudice or bias. Discrimination and bias may be for or against something. For example, one may be biased in favor of left-handed reporters and one may practice discrimination in their favor. The two terms are not interchangeable, even for the sake of a good headline count.

Bid whist: A card game popular among blacks. Played with a standard 52-card deck plus two jokers, for a total of 54 cards. The two jokers must be distinct: one is called the big joker, the other the little joker. There are two two-player teams with each partner sitting opposite the other. The games object is to score seven points, or force the other team to go minus seven. Bidding for and winning tricks, also called books, score points.

biracial: Combination of two races. May be used to describe people or things. Not all biracial individuals self-identify in this manner. Do not used mixed as an alternative.

black: See African, African American.

Black Church: Collective noun that refers to the more than 65,000 Christian churches that have a predominance of black members and clerical leadership. The Black Church has served as a major institutional foundation in the black community. It generally refers to Protestants, who themselves represent a variety of denominations and sects. It does not generally encompass Catholics, Muslims or others. In some cases the term black churches may be more accurate, but also be mindful that many blacks worldwide belong to churches and to denominations that may not be predominantly black.

black collectibles: Objects and memorabilia created by or about African-American culture, usually acquired as a hobby. Some items are seen as perpetuating stereotypes.

Black Codes: Statutes curtailing rights of African Americans during early years of Reconstruction and instituted by Southern legislative bodies in 1865 and 1866. Also known as Negro Codes, the statutes aimed to restore the political powers and economic structure of slavery by, for example, forbidding blacks from owning or renting farmland. (See Landmark court decisions, Reconstruction.)

Black Diaspora: Black people of African descent who are scattered throughout the world; refers to blacks whose ancestors were removed from the African continent through slavery and colonization, and dispersed worldwide.

Black Greek letter organizations:

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. - Founded Jan. 15, 1908, at Howard University in Washington, by nine students as the first intercollegiate Greek-letter organization established by black women. May use AKAs on second reference.
  • Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. - Founded Dec. 4, 1906, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., by seven college men as the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African Americans. May use Alphas on second reference.
  • Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. - Founded Jan. 13, 1913, at Howard University in Washington by 22 black college women. May use Deltas on second reference.
  • Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. - Founded Jan. 5, 1911, at Indiana University at Bloomington by 10 black college men. May use Kappas on second reference.
  • Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. - Founded Nov. 17, 1911, at Howard University in Washington by three black college men assisted by their faculty adviser. May use Omegas on second reference. Informally known as Ques or Q-Dogs.
  • Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. - Founded Jan. 9, 1914, at Howard University in Washington by three college black men. May use Sigmas on second reference.
  • Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. - Founded Nov. 12, 1922, in Indianapolis by seven schoolteachers. The group became an incorporated national collegiate sorority on Dec. 30, 1929, when a charter was granted to Alpha chapter at Butler University in the same city. May use Sigma women on second reference.
  • Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. - Founded Jan. 16, 1920, at Howard University in Washington by five black college students. May use Zetas on second reference.
  • Iota Phi Theta Fraternity Inc. - Founded Sept. 19, 1963, at Morgan State College (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore by 12 black college students. May use Iotas on second reference.

    black leader: Avoid using the term. It implies that one person is the spokesperson for all black people. When referring to a local black person in a leadership position, state the organization that he or she belongs to.

    Black national anthem: Lift Evry Voice and Sing, also commonly known as the Negro national anthem, was composed by James Weldon Johnson in 1900.

    black Muslim: Archaic term to describe members of the American Muslim Mission. Muslim is sufficient.

    bling-bling: Slang for wealth, big jewels and success associated with hip-hop culture. Note hyphenation.

    boy, girl: Use boy to describe a male person who is 17 or younger. From 13 to 17, youth, teenager or teen also may be used. Man is preferable for someone 18 and older. Avoid calling someone a young man or young lady in news copy; it is vague and implies judgment. Avoid names such as old boy or old girl, too. A girl may be 17 or younger, but from age 13 through 17, teenager or teen is also suitable. At 18, she can be referred to as a woman. Do not refer to black adults as boys or girls.

    brim: Slang for hat.

    brother, brotha, bro: When not referring to a family relationship, brotha or bro is used as slang for brother, an affectionate term or greeting for a male person. Be mindful of appropriateness in news copy. May use in quotes.

    buck: Archaic derogatory term for a healthy, strong black male during slavery times. Slave owners would breed their bucks with young female slaves to produce superior slaves. Do not use to describe a person.

    buppie: Young, black upwardly mobile urban professional. Mirrors the term yuppies coined for white professional persons under 40 who prospered during the 1980s. Avoid use in news copy because it is vague and outdated.

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