“Negro” to be dropped from census surveys

The controversial term appeared as an ethnic identifier as recently as the 2010 census

Topics: Race, Census, negro, African American, Racism, ,

"Negro" to be dropped from census surveys (Credit: Shutterstock/Susan Montgomery)

The news that the term “negro” has remained on census surveys up until now seems even bigger than the news that the Census Bureau is dropping it. But, as recently as the 2010 census, “negro” appeared as one of five options for respondents to identify their ethnicity.

“Instead of the term that came into use during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, census forms will use the more modern labels ‘black’ or ‘African-American’,” reported the AP. The terms “black” and “African-American” were already present on recent census surveys, but “negro” was included too, reportedly for the benefit of “a small segment, mostly older blacks living in the South, [who] still identified with the term,” noted the AP.

“The intent of every word on the race and ethnicity questions is to be as inclusive as possible so that all of us could see a word here that rings a bell for us,” Robert Groves, then-Census Bureau director, told journalists in 2010. In the most recent surveys (2010), information provided to the AP indicated that 36,000 people chose to identify as “negro.” However, the term’s inclusion also drew a significant number of complaints.

As the Guardian noted Monday, “the census has a history of inciting controversy over its race-identification section, because it can oppose respondent’s personal feelings about their race.” Via the Guardian:



Until 2000, respondents were not allowed to mark more than one race on the form; in 1960, some census takers could identify people’s race for them. In 2010, people who identified themselves as being of hispanic, latino or Spanish origin had to choose from white, black, American Indian, asian or Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. The census then determined that “hispanic origins are not races”.

In the first census, which was taken in 1790, racial categories were “free white”, “all other free persons” and “slaves.” These divisions continued until race categories were expanded in 1850. “Negro” appeared for the first time in 1900, as “black (or negro or negro descent)”. In 1910 and 1920, those who identified as mixed race had the option of selecting “mulatto”.

 

 

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 10
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie

    A contemporary romantic comedy set to Elvis Costello and lots of luxurious and sinful sugary treats.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Welcome to Temptation" by Jennifer Crusie

    Another of Crusie's romantic comedies, this one in the shadow of an ostentatiously phallic water tower.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "A Gentleman Undone" by Cecilia Grant

    A Regency romance with beautifully broken people and some seriously steamy sex.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Black Silk" by Judith Ivory

    A beautifully written, exquisitely slow-building Regency; the plot is centered on a box with some very curious images, as Edward Gorey might say.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "For My Lady's Heart" by Laura Kinsale

    A medieval romance, the period piece functions much like a dystopia, with the courageous lady and noble knight struggling to find happiness despite the authoritarian society.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Sweet Disorder" by Rose Lerner

    A Regency that uses the limitations on women of the time to good effect; the main character is poor and needs to sell her vote ... or rather her husband's vote. But to sell it, she needs to get a husband first ...   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Frenemy of the People" by Nora Olsen

    Clarissa is sitting at an awards banquet when she suddenly realizes she likes pictures of Kimye for both Kim and Kanye and she is totally bi. So she texts to all her friends, "I am totally bi!" Drama and romance ensue ... but not quite with who she expects. I got an advanced copy of this YA lesbian romance, and I’d urge folks to reserve a copy; it’s a delight.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "The Slightest Provocation" by Pam Rosenthal

    A separated couple works to reconcile against a background of political intrigue; sort of "His Gal Friday" as a spy novel set in the Regency.   Read the whole essay.

    Romance novels need a canon

    "Again" by Kathleen Gilles Seidel

    Set among workers on a period soap opera, it manages to be contemporary and historical both at the same time.   Read the whole essay.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>