When 3.5 million representative Americans receive their U.S. Census surveys next year, they will no longer be confronted with the word “negro.” After more than a century of use alongside “black” and “African-American,” the Census Bureau has finally decided to eliminate the antiquated term.
Nicholas Jones, chief of the bureau’s racial statistics branch, told the Associated Press that the organization made the decision after months of research that told them many African-Americans found the term “offensive and outdated.”
The AP story describes the history of the term, from its first use in the 1900 Census, replacing the word “colored,” through its use by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in speeches and ultimate rejection during the 1960’s civil rights movement.
The Census Bureau first addressed the term publicly in 2010, when former Director Robert Groves wrote in a blog post about the decision to leave the term in that year’s survey. He said then:
“I think some research on the sensitivity of answers to the presence of “Negro” should have been done last decade, but I am unaware of what limitations there were on the research program then.
Some of the commentary on the question comes from people offended by the term. I apologize to them. I am confident that the intent of my colleagues in using the same wording as Census 2000 was to make sure as many people as possible saw words that matched their self-identities. Full inclusiveness was the goal.”
[Image of 2010 Census Survey via The Grio]
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