Use Of Word ‘Negro’ On 2010 Census Has Some Up In Arms


census-formThe census form for 2010 features a word more often heard in 1966: Negro. For many New York blacks, the word conjures visions of Jim Crow and segregation – even if the Census Bureau says it’s included to ensure an accurate count of the nation’s minority residents.”It’s a bad vibe word,” said Kevin Bishop, 45, a Brooklyn salesman. “It doesn’t agree with me, doesn’t agree with my heart.”

Pamela Reese Smith, visiting the city yesterday from Rochester, said the term was outdated.

“I don’t think my ancestors would appreciate it in 2010,” said Smith, 56. “I don’t want my grandchildren being called Negroes.”

Question No. 9 on this year’s census form asks about race, with one of the answers listed as “black, African-Am. or Negro.”

Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin said the use of “Negro” was intended as a term of inclusion.

“Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do,” he said. “Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”

The form was also approved by Congress more than a year ago, and the word has appeared on past forms.

The use of Negro began disappearing elsewhere with the civil rights movement of the 1960s, as black or African-American became the preferred terms.

Although Martin noted that some older blacks still use the term, younger blacks feel it’s a term that’s passe.

“If you look back in the day when Jackie Robinson was playing, it was called the Negro Leagues,” said Ryon Goulbourne, 28, of Mount Vernon.

“The N-word branched out of Negro. … These days, African-Americans wouldn’t like the term.”

Greg Melvin, 41, of Queens said he wasn’t offended by the word’s inclusion on the form – he just didn’t think it was proper.

“They don’t need it,” he said. “It should just be black or African-American. It’s definitely unnecessary in this day and age.”

{NY Daily News/ Newscenter}


  1. Clarification on Comment 2. Matzav did the correct thing and eliminated the original Comment 2. My admonition was Comment #3, but got bumped up to Comment 2, when the original Comment 2 was removed. Thank You Matzav.

  2. A mulatto is someone who has one white parent and one black parent. Years ago, Negro was the respectful term to denote a black person. Even today, we hear about the Negro College Fund. Not all black people are of African descent. The term is highly inaccurate. Also, the term negro is defining in the same way that caucasian and oriental are. there is no pejorative connotation to it. I would never use the term ‘nigger’ which is very insulting, just as I wouldn’t appreciate being referred to as a whitey or Himey or Kike, but I have no problem being referred to as a caucasian, and don’t see why people of color should have a problem with the term ‘negro’.

  3. I don’t find the term offensive. My grandparent’s birth certificates say “Negro.” My mother was born in 1957 and her birth certificate says “Negro.” That’s what black people were for much of the 20th century. And that’s how many black people referred to themselves and each other from the post-emancipation period on through the 1960s when the term began to disappear.

  4. Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races.

    Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.”
    How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be?

    Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know”.

    It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops.

    Adoption is a 5 billion dollar, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates”.

    Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society.

    If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated. Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself.

    I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.