Thanks to enough stress in my personal life, I have intentionally been lying low when it comes to what’s going on in the world. However after hearing about the Census Bureau’s decision to add the seemingly outdated term Negro to the 2010 Census forms I feel the need to speak up. First off, I understand many younger folks are miffed about this, after all if you are under a certain age, Negro is a term you read about, not something you were called.
That said, there are still quite a few older Black folks who well never quite got the African-American thing…I know because I have several in my family. I am old enough to remember being Black, briefly Afro-American and later African-American. Personally I have always had a love/like/dislike feeling when it comes to the term African-American. As a Black woman who couldn’t tell you where in Africa my folks came from, the use of African-American never felt quite right. After all I have friends who I truly consider African-American, first and second generation immigrants from countries in Africa. I however, have folks who come from Arkansas, Texas, and Tennessee.
My beloved Granny who passed four years ago, never called herself African-American, generally she stuck to Black or Negro or the occasional colored. From what the Census folks are saying it seems she was not the only one and to create an inclusive environment, the Census folks decided to add Negro. Inclusion happens in many forms.
Frankly I don’t have a problem with it and I hardly doubt the use of Negro is going to bring back terms such as Mulatto, Octoroon, etc. While we have made some progress racially in this country, I think we would be remiss to forget the past. Now if that form said Nigger, then I’d be the first one say oh hell to the naw. Instead it uses a term that is still used by a certain segment of the Black population, a population that felt so strongly about it that many of them wrote it into the last census form.
I think focusing on issues like whether Negro is outdated takes away from the larger issues. How many of the folks getting worked up about this are actually involved in the Black community? The Black community has a lot of issues we are facing, our unemployment rates are well above the national average. High percentage of single parent homes, our kids die younger, shit we die younger. So instead of getting worked up over the use of a word I say channel that energy into more positive avenues.