The 2010 Census: Black, African-Am., or Negro???

Question No. 9 on this year's census form asks about race, with one of the answers listed as "black, African-Am. or Negro."Every 10 years, as required by the United States Constitution, the Census Bureau takes on the daunting but very important task of determining how many people reside in the country. The data collected aids in determining every states representation in the House of Representatives. Additionally, it helps determine how many federal dollars will be allocated to communities to spend on building and improving things such as roads, schools, parks, housing and public safety.

2010 is a census year and in March the Census Bureau will begin sending out census forms to each and every American household. Some of you may be surprised and even a little offended by question #9 on this year’s census form. Question # 9 relates to race, and asks:

“What is person 1’s race?” with one of the selections being “Black, African-Am., or Negro.

The word “Negro” when used in America, the melting pot of the world, seems, antiquated, offensive, and downright insulting. For some younger people, like myself, that were not part of the civil rights movement or that never experienced segregation and/or slavery, the term is almost a slap in the face especially when the leader of the free world is African-American.

For some older Americans, however, the word isn’t offensive but rather “inclusive”. According to Census Bureau spokesman, Jack Martin, “Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do. Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included” (McFadden et al). While I can understand the reasoning behind including that term I don’t agree that it should be used.

We are a nation that has come a long way from the days of slavery, segregation, and Jim Crow and by allowing that term to appear on a formal government form it is giving the appearance that it is acceptable to use the term. The fact that a handful of Americans identify with the term “Negro”, does not make the use of it acceptable. It is a word much like the other “N” word that is rooted in hate and conjures up images of inferiority and inequality in most of our minds. To say that it is being used as an inclusive term seems spurious but if it is genuine then why stop at “Negro” and not add “Boy”, “Colored”, “Coon”, and all those other outdated and racists terms that some others may identify with.

I am in awe that some individuals in a country that has come so far feel that the use of that term is acceptable. What do you all think??

McFadden, K. & McShane, L. (2010).  Use of word Negro on 2010 census forms raises memories of Jim Crow. Retrieved from

2 thoughts on “The 2010 Census: Black, African-Am., or Negro???

  1. Thanks for your comment Cindy and I think you’re right. As long as “we” continue to use the word amongst ourselves there will always be individuals that will think it is ok to use. However, I think that most Americans feel that the government should know better. But then again, maybe not, when considering that this same country made it lawful to own another human being. I guess we’re still a work in progress.


  2. I would have to agree that the word “Negro” should not have been used, However I feel that we become appalled when we see it on a form but when we hear one Afro-American calling another Afro-American “Negro” we let it be. It is disgusting to use the word considering we know where it’s rooted from but I wouldn’t put much mind to it because, who knows the person who worded the census was probably Africian American him/herself. Therefore it just might be justified.


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