Monday, February 8, 2010

2010 Census: Is the Use of the Word Negro, Racist or Harmless?

Over the years, I have been taught that the word Negro is racist. The 2010 Census includes the word Negro as a classification for a person's race. Why would the Census use the word Negro along with African-American and black? That doesn't make sense to me. The word Negro harkens back to at least the days of Jim Crow and has a racist connotation, so why would our government be encouraging racism, or such divisiveness among Americans by using the word Negro? Is this one more example of our government muddying the waters? IMHO, it seems like the use of word Negro is racist. But, maybe the word really isn't racist? On one hand, I have heard some people from within the Black Community, and The New Black Panthers who have expressed concerns and outrage over this wording on the census. But, I haven't heard anything from the "big shots", or the black community's spokesman on African-American issues - Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. If Bush was still president today, do you think that Sharpton and Jackson would have spoken out by now and called on an outcry from African-Americans to speak and claim that Bush was a racist because of the census wording? I have a suspicion that both Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson would have spoken out by now if Bush was still the President today. The Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin said the use of "Negro" was intended as a term of inclusion.

But, on the other hand, others believe differently, like Stanley Crouch in his article states:

"As the Census Bureau begins embedding a test in the 2010 census that "will measure the effect of removing the term 'Negro' on reports about a person's racial identity," my preference is not with those who either feel insulted or think "Negro" outdated and derogatory. That actually applies to another N-word.

As a writer, I find the term African-American unwieldy. I use terms like Negro, black, and am sometimes tempted to use colored because that range of skin tones is so undeniably epic. All of them are no more than words, but there is something far from backward about the sound of Negro and the magnificent people who used that word to describe themselves. They gave it majesty; they made it luminous. They inspired, organized and led what amounted to our most recent civil war. They welcomed all comers as they went about removing the teeth from the Grand Dragons of Southern racism."

"Of course, hip hop has demeaned millions for the making of millions and used it at every chance. But that's another story. "

So, is the word Negro a word of praise and inspiration that has been twisted over the years to seem like it has a racist connotation? Or is the word really racist?

Is the word Negro racist or harmless?


Eman said...

Negro is the name given to a race. It may be outdated, but who cares? Blacks call other blacks worse than this.

This has less to do with the color of ones skin and more to do with the thickness of ones skin.

Teresa said...

I tend to agree. But, I had always been taught that negro was a naughty word and was of a racist nature. Although, it may be both racist and harmless depending on how one uses the term.

Always On Watch said...

Is the word Negro racist or harmless?

I was taught that the word denotes race, just as "Caucasian" denotes race.

Why would the Census use the word Negro along with African-American and black?

I think that some blacks go my different connotations. At least, some of my black friends and clients do. I will admit, however, that I don't know of a single one of my black friends or clients using the word "Negro" to refer to themselves. That said, I know that some black Latinos use the term "Negro."

Teresa said...

Always On Watch,
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Your explanations make a lot of sense as to why the census is still using the word Negro to denote race.

paulien said...

Negro is a word formerly used to define one of the human races. All the other words in former scientific use refer to the area people with a certain kind of look came from. Not the word negro. The word negro sets people of African descent apart as not being human. Old terminology, better not use it. The definition of human race changed. There's only one human race living now: we are all homo sapiens. Other races have long been gone: neanderthal and homo erectus for example. New thinking: one human race, coming from different places that may look a certain way.