Storify: Why I use Enby and not NB

Storify is shutting down in May and has informed users that we have to migrate our content elsewhere if we wish to save it. This is one of my old threads.

"Enby" is a vocalized word for "NB", which is short for "nonbinary" gender.

I use "enby" because "NB" already means several things, including "non-black" as in NBPOC ("non-black people of color). This is a term created by Black activists online and one which I was specifically asked not to co-opt as a white nonbinary person. People ask me a lot about the term, so here's a rundown.

Language evolves fast online and I'm not an authority on any of this, but this is how I experienced this particular evolution. "NB" as in non-Black, as in NBPOC ("non-black people of color) is a term that was coined by Black women activists. Here is a good article that uses the term and explains why it's important: Non-Black People Of Color Perpetuate Anti-Blackness Too. Here's the opening paragraph in case you can't/don't want to click over:

"In social justice spaces, online and college campuses alike - Non-Black People of Color (NBPOC) use the words, us, we and the acronym “POC” when discussing issues that pertain to or disproportionately impact Black people. This may be their well-intentioned way of proclaiming solidarity, but when one begins to equate their experience with the Black struggle it ignores the peculiar plight of Black people in America."

So "NB" (non-Black) refers to non-Black people, it is a term originated by Black Americans to talk about racism.

When I became involved in the nonbinary community, we began using "NB" for ourselves. Some Black people and NBPOC asked us to reconsider. There is a tendency in social justice spaces for white-defined terms to dominate the discourse. If we continued to use "nb" for ourselves, people would start reading "NBPOC" as nonbinary people of color (who also exist!).

"Enby" was created to avoid using NB. It is, in my mind, a successful example of white people agreeing not to appropriate Black language. It wasn't "cutesy". I understand it reads as "cutesy" to some people now, but I am frankly proud of the fact that white people listened. Low allyship bar met!

So while I think there's still room to discuss this in the community, I think it's more important to not steal Black activists' terms. That is why I use "enby" as an umbrella term and try to avoid using "NB" for nonbinary unless it's absolutely necessary.

If I say "enby" and someone doesn't feel that applies to them, that's fine. I'm talking about enbys, not everyone on earth. :)


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