RAW can't be anything except color. If you tell your camera to shoot in black-and-white but only shoot RAW, you may see a black-and-white LCD image, but when you open the file in software that works with your file, it will change to color (an exception may be the RAW software made by the camera manufacturer, although it can be changed to color).
This allows you to compare your color and black-and-white images side by side on your computer, plus you can even use the RAW file to get an improved black-and-white photo. You're starting with a photo originally shot to look good in black-and-white, then you can convert that RAW file to black-and-white to gain more flexibility and potentially more image quality. (Note: To display RAW + JPEG files in Lightroom, you have to tell Lightroom to recognize both in Preferences before you import the shots.)
Sharpness Contrast Sharpness contrast can really help define a black-and-white image, especially with close-ups and wildlife. Sometimes in these situations, you might not be able to find a position or a light that will show off a tonal or textural contrast. By shooting with very limited depth of field, you can still define that subject and make it show up in black-and-white.
Just because something is out of focus in the background doesn't mean it's necessarily giving a good sharpness contrast. You need to make sure the contrast is strong enough that the subject really does show up in black-and-white. This is enhanced by using a telephoto lens, a wider aperture and looking for space between your subject and the background. Don't be afraid to shoot "wide-open" with your lens, whether that's ƒ/2.8, ƒ/5.6 or something similar. When you do this, you do have to be careful that you choose your focus point carefully on something that's important, such as the eyes of an animal.
Sometimes when you're shooting this way, the subject will seem to jump out at you because it's so sharp and the background is so out of focus. This is when you have to watch out for unwanted tonal contrasts showing up in the background. Even if it's out of focus, a bright spot, for example, will fight for attention because of how strong tonal contrasts can be.