web analytics
Your Independent Alternative!

NAACP Supports Use of ‘Negro’ on Census Forums

The push to get all Floridians to fill out the U.S. Census forms trumps all other considerations including antiquated racial terms and who runs marketing efforts, the Florida NAACP Florida Chapter President told reporters Wednesday.

Calling it a term recognizable to many, though not part of contemporary lexicon, Adora Obi Nweze defended the use of "negro" as an ethnicity category in the U.S. Census form. The term's inclusion has come under fire from critics who say it is derogatory and a throwback to an era of segregation.

Nweze also said the advocacy group would do all it could to encourage black respondents to participate in the once a decade survey despite sympathizing with a lawsuit filed last week challenging the award of a minority outreach contract to a white-owned firm.

Nweze made both comments as she appeared with Gov. Charlie Crist to promote widespread participation in the once-a-decade count, which plays a critical role in determining the distribution of federal funds.

The term "negro" is among a laundry list of descriptions on the form. Others categories include "Black" and "African American." Census officials say they included the term because more than 56,000 respondents in 2000 wrote in the term on the 2000 Census. Including the category makes the forms faster to count.

"Some people are always going to object," Nweze said. "I think people will mark it if they are comfortable with it. If not, they will put in what they want to be called. "

The NAACP leader also said the group will again spearhead efforts to boost compliance, among both black and Hispanic residents.

Last week, black-owned communications firms sued Crist to block the award of a $420,000 contract with Moore/Ketchum Partnership to provide outreach efforts in the black community, saying the award reflects "lingering aspects of discrimination."

The firms said white-owned companies appear to have been favored in the award since Moore/Ketchum "lacked the plaintiff's vast depth and varied experiences with respect to service and outreach to the targeted communities." The Florida Black Chamber of Commerce also is part of the lawsuit.

A Moore/Ketchum affiliate in the minority-reachout effort, black-owned ESP Media Corp., is led by lobbyist Sean Pittman. But those suing said it was unfair that a minority company was not chosen as a prime contractor.

Terrie Ard, with Tallahassee's Moore Consulting Group, said ESP Media is expected to complete 85 percent of the awareness campaign aimed at black Floridians. The firms combined in submitting the winning bid in a pair of categories focused on assuring that black Floridians are accurately counted in this year's census, she said.

Asked about the contract, Nweze said the two issues are separate and distinct. The lawsuit will work its way through the courts, the immediate concern is making the count accurate and efficient.

"We would hope that always diversity would be the top order of the day, but whether it is or not does not stop our responsibility," Nweze told reporters

6 Responses »

  1. This really upsets me! I am 32 years old and i feel as if using that word can only take us back another 50 years. I have never met anyone that feels that beening called a "negro" is okay! I can not express how upset i am by this!

  2. I think you meant to report that the local NAACP official doesn't object to "Negro" (with a capitalized "n") as a category on the U.S. census.

    The NAACP has long objected to the use of the word Negro whenever (as you used it) it starts with a lower case "n." Negro, when referring to a person, is always Negro, and NEVER "negro", or "Negroes"--but, NEVER "negroes."

    Michael Meyers, Executive Director
    New York Civil Rights Coalition
    Manhattan, New York

  3. Earnest:

    Bless you, but you are a young man.

    I am not that much older than you but history was that plenty of blacks "way back when" took exception to being called "black." "Negro" of course means black.

    When Malcolm X arrived on the scene and the younger crowd starting rejecting the tactics of the elders, many of them adopted "black power" as their mantra and "Black" as their national or ethnic identity. Afros and dashakis followed. Old-line leaders like Roy Wilkins of the NAACP and Whitney Young of the National Urban League, and James Farmer of CORE, among others, had fought for a very long time to have blacks referred to as "the Negro people" (with a capital "n"). They fiercely opposed segregationists and any others who mispronounced and misspelled Negro(es).

    Soon the fashion changed to "Afro-American." Eventually "Afro-American" waned and was replaced with "African-American." Many nevertheless self-identified as "Black," taking pride in what was once regarded as a racial epithet. Still, even today, many Blacks do not wish to be regarded as "blacks" or as hyphenated Americans; so, they do not use "Black," or "African-American" or even "Afro-American."

    The current generation prefers to be referred to as Blacks or as black Americans and as African-Americans, interchangeably. Nevertheless, there are many older black Americans who still identify woth "Negro" as their preference and the U.S. Census is intended to be as inclusive as possible. It offers a range of choices for self-identification. Incidentally, none of those choices are "Colored" (a sign of social progress), even though the NAACP still has in its name "Colored People." Go figure.

    Michael Meyers
    New York Civil Rights Coaliiton
    Manhattan, New York

  4. I am not a Black person, but I did find this term outdated and unnecessary in the 2010 Cesus Form. For what I know of the history of African Americans, I can not help but to think that this term is taking us back to those moments where they were not respected in this country. I support the idea of taking this word off of the form, otherwise, I guess we might start seeing this word used again in any application form that we fill out from now on.

  5. I am 32 and beong that I grew up in the generation that I have, I do not think it is tactful to call anyone negro, with a capital"N" or not!Whow our mothers,mothers,mothers fought for us to do what? Allow a nation to c us refer to ourselfs as Negro!!! I completely disagree!!!!

  6. 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'd really like to know how Uncle Sam wants adopted persons will sealed identities to answer the race question. Does the U.S. Government want us to lie or does it expect us to be psychic?