We know that, say, Maya Angelou is African American, but is she Black or black?
I’ve come across several documents lately, written by colleagues and others, who’ve referred to African Americans (as well as people of African heritage living in other countries outside Africa) as Black. Ditto, I’ve seen people like me – a member of the Caucasoid race – referred to as White or white.
I get the caution – one person told me she thought lowercasing a color when referring to race may connote disrespect – though I'll admit I also roll my eyes at it. Seriously, people, we’re talking about uppercasing and lowercasing letters. Let’s all stay calm.
With all due respect to people everywhere, the answer is that both black and white, when referring to people’s race, are lowercase. This is AP style as well as that of most mainstream media outlets. “Lowercase black and all racial designations derived from skin color (white, brown, yellow, red),” notes The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage.
While we’re on the subject, I’ve also come across several instances of writers referring to black people en masse as African Americans. Go USA and all that. But keep in mind that people of African ancestry live around the world and that not all black people are African American.