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I am trying to express the idea of equality between blacks and whites.

What I want to say is:

black people were not able to live on the same block or study at the same school with white men when they were alive. Ironically, the only moment black people were treated "equally" with white people was when they died together in the Vietnam War.

This is my passage:

It is ironic that black men were not able to live on the same block or study at the same school with white men. However, black men were able to die together with white men in the war, which was the only moment blacks and whites were treated “equally”.

  1. Should I quote equally or not?
  2. Should I use the word "moment" or " time"?
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    Proofreading passages of text is not on-topic here at ELU. If you have a specific concern about your text relates to language usage, not argument content, please edit your question to indicate it. – vpn Aug 7 '17 at 23:46
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    Whether to use quotes on 'equally' is a style decision more about tone of voice(teacher or publication guidance) and how you plan to explore "equally" in following passages. There are options of opinion/style referring to a entire war as "moment in history", "moment" alone('time'? not sure that's better- 'period'?). I'm not sure I'm fond of a "moment" actively "treating", vs 'moment when .. were treated' but that is also a matter of opinion. Proofreading a whole segment is beyond this here but "~at~vs~on~ the same block" might be one other part I'd consider revising. – Tom22 Aug 8 '17 at 0:46
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    I'm not sure they take this sort of thing on but you might try writers.stackexchange.com for style questions. – Tom22 Aug 8 '17 at 0:58
  • Because your question did not specifically refer to the line Ironically, the only moment black people were able to treat "equally" I fixed the grammar, that way users wouldn't be distracted and be tempted to say this is a proofreading question. It's not. Your question is not asking users to read through the passage and correct any errors, it's really asking about the usage of an expression and word choice. – Mari-Lou A Aug 8 '17 at 5:27
  • You might want to modify the question title, the use of capital letters for Whites and Blacks is not obligatory, and some might object to the term "black men" and "blacks". Consider using the term African American instead. – Mari-Lou A Aug 8 '17 at 5:36
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You'd put quotation marks around a word or phrase when quoting someone;

... or when referring to a word as a word ("'Dog' has three letters") or naming something ("We named him 'Spot'");

...when referring to some types of thing by title ("Let's sing 'Clementine'");

...or you can also use it around words you consider dubious -- "scare quotes," they're called. But in your case: if they weren't treated equally in death, what is the purpose of the sentence? It seems to say that they were, but also that they weren't, and I don't know which you mean.

If it's the former, this works better:

This was the only moment blacks and whites were treated equally.

That is, in death, everything's the same. But if they weren't treated equally in death, tell us that:

This was the only moment blacks and whites might have been treated equally -- but they really weren't, because ...

Whichever one you mean.

Here's a legitimate use of scare quotes:

"Separate but equal" public schooling held sway until Brown v. the Board of Education.

This is scare quotes because you'd want to make it clear you don't think it was really separate but equal.

I personally think scare quotes should only be used if the quoted term was actually said by somebody somewhere, as it's illogical to use a dubious term if nobody agrees with it! But I don't know if you'd find that in a style book anywhere.

More on using quotation marks around words.

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