After more than a century, the U.S. Census has finally decided to drop the word ‘Negro’ from its surveys. The Census surveys will now use the words “Black” and “African-American” as its primary designations.
Nicholas Jones, chief of the Census Bureau’s racial statistics branch, told the Associated Press that after much public input, the Bureau had decided that “negro” was no longer needed on its forms, mainly because some people find it offensive.
Former Census director Robert Groves had previously stated that Negro remained on the Census because a 1990’s study showed that over 50,000 people self-identified as Negroes.
“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,” Groves said. “Full inclusiveness was the goal.”
For many Generation X and Y African-Americans, however, the term Negro is a throwback to a time when blacks were viewed as second-class citizens. Still, the term ‘Negro’ can still be found in the names of civil rights groups like the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). And even the NAACP still uses antiquated word “colored” in its name.
During the 2010 Census, some black groups protested the term Negro, which led the Census to reexamine whether to continue using the designation on its official forms.
In the first census in 1790, racial categories were “free white”, “all other free persons” and “slaves.” The Census has vastly expanded its categories since then.