The Word “Negro”

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

There’s been some controversy over the race question wording in the 2010 Census form. The race question has often changed over the decades, as the country has changed and racial terms have evolved.

The 2010 Census form offers 15 categories for race:

  • White
  • Black, African Am., or Negro
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Asian Indian
  • Japanese
  • Native Hawaiian
  • Chinese
  • Korean
  • Guamanian or Chamorro
  • Filipino
  • Vietnamese
  • Samoan
  • Other Asian (print race in box below)
  • Other Pacific Islander (print race in box below)
  • Some other race (print race in box below)

The category “Black, African Am., or Negro” was used in Census 2000, based on research in the late 1990’s that showed there was an older cohort of African-Americans who self-identified as “Negro.” Surprisingly, about 56,000 persons took the time to write in under the “some other race” category the word “Negro.” Above half of them were less than 45 years of age in 2000.

The Census Bureau didn’t do any research on the respondent reaction to the word “Negro” in the 2000’s, but did do tests that showed answers to the ethnicity and race questions tended to change depending on the order of the questions. I think some research on the sensitivity of answers to the presence of “Negro” should have been done last decade, but I am unaware of what limitations there were on the research program then.

Some of the commentary on the question comes from people offended by the term. I apologize to them. 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. Full inclusiveness was the goal.

Nonetheless, my review of our other demographic surveys showed that we don’t use the term in them. A few calls around the country showed that the term is not used in most other household surveys. We are currently using the term in the American Community Survey questionnaire (to make it consistent with the decennial census), and a 2010 Census test of the effects of removing the term on answers will inform the next version of the question. My expectation of the test result is that omitting the term has little effect on the response distribution, but we must do the test to make sure about this.

African-Americans need to be fully counted in the 2010 Census, and I hope this controversy doesn’t reduce their participation.

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86 Responses to The Word “Negro”

  1. pds says:

    I believe that there are many who would be offended enough by the use of the term “Negro” that it will have an effect on Census.
    It’s not only that the offensive, but it is also that the African American community is skeptical of the Census as a whole. Including the term “Negro” further separates you from the African American community.
    Those who would hand-write in “Negro” would do so.
    But now you’ve alienated a group significantly larger than 56,000. African Americans across the country aren’t reading this blog. They will get the form, see “Negro” and think, “What is this, 1950?”. They will continue to believe that the Census does not really care about them, and that is certainly bad for the Census as a whole.
    I am disappointed in this choice.
    p.s. Disappointed is the mild word choice.

  2. Jerry English says:

    Why can’t Caucasian people have a real race category instead of a color? Color is not a race. Besides Caucasian people are not white, they are more pink.

  3. My grandaughter is mixed race, Asian and Caucasian, how is she reported in the Census?

  4. WM says:

    The appropriate term is “Black”, period. There’s nothing African about it. There are black Americans and white Americans. And you need to get over the attitude.

  5. Jerry says:

    What about Caucasian people? We don’t even get a choice of race, we are put into a color category. At least people of African decent get a choice. In fact white is not a race it is a color and it isn’t even the color of Caucasian people.

  6. Jerry L. Goudy says:

    Who is the person “I” in the information regarding race?
    “I am unaware of what limitations there were on the research program then.”

  7. Charles Burger says:

    I am “white”, but I should be referred to as “European American”, if the phrase “African American” is used. How many of those living now immigrated from Africa to become American citizens? Hence, African American. This applies to European Americans as well.
    Charles Burger

    • Wilbur Holmes says:

      When the census taker came to my home I told her that I am Euro American
      and she seemed a bit taken aback. After doing the Other category and writing in Euro American I can only hope I was counted. I believe that Euro American is a better category for “white” Americans! It reflects more accurately our lineage.

  8. Jerry English says:

    White is not a race, its the same as black is not a race. Why do people of very dark skin or African decent get to use a real race category but people of lite skin or Caucasian race have to check a box of color? Do you have a box labeled red for American Indians or a box marked yellow for Asians? Why is it only the Caucasian people have a box of color?

  9. kev@censusstaff says:

    Carolyn Morgan,
    An individual’s response to the race question is based upon self-identification. The Census Bureau does not tell individuals which boxes to mark or what heritage to write-in. For the first time in Census 2000, individuals were presented with the option to self-identify with more than one race and this continues with the 2010 Census.
    The Census Bureau will use two approaches in its standard 2010 Census data products to present data for people who report multiple races. These approaches follow the tabulations that were provided in Census 2000. One approach is to show the 57 possible combinations of the six race groups (White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian, Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, and Some Other Race). This includes information on people who report they are “White and Asian,” such as the example you raised for your granddaughter. A second approach is to show the number of times a respondent reports one of the six race categories, either alone in or combination with the other five race categories. Thus, the tabulation category “Asian alone or in combination with one or more other races” will include all people who reported only “Asian” and people who reported “Asian in combination with any of the other five race categories” such as “Asian and White.”
    For more a detailed discussion on the ways in which data on race is collected and tabulated, you may wish to read the Census 2000 Report, “Overview of Race and Hispanic Origin” . A similar report on this topic will be released as part of the 2010 Census results.

  10. Sarolite says:

    Why is there no option for “Hispanic?” I plan to check other and write it in. I am not comfortable calling myself a “White” person “of Hispanic descent.”

  11. Rhonda M Hill says:

    Well, I’m Arab-American and I don’t see anything for that either.
    When will we recognize the world has gotten so small that delineations of ‘race’ are redundant? We are, all of us, of the HUMAN race.
    Perhaps someday the census will recognize that as the ‘only’ race…

  12. cedric@censusstaff says:

    These terms are what people feel they are. As an employee, I’ve asked many people their race and many would say Negro. People have complained that Negro was not listed in our forms and for it to be encluded, they consider themselves Negroes not us. Depending on when and where a person was raised, they call themsleves differently, I am a Black American, I am not african nor negro. But unfortunately in the U.S, color is a big issue. It is not offensive if a many people want to have Negro on the survey versus black or african american. We do what the people ask. This was not a dirrective performed by the government. Honestly..

  13. Cynthia Kendall says:

    Why are North African’s (Moroccans)not allowed to call themselves African Americans? I too will list myself as
    European American.

  14. Sally says:

    The use of the word Negro is VERY offensive. The Census has just effectively alienated millions of black people with this word. I will still complete my Census because I know its important, but things like this give people reason not to support Census.

  15. Whit Gentry says:

    It is so unfortunate and simplistic that people or so sensative to such a subject. Racism would disappear if we stopped using black and white and stopped using color as a crutch. Suggestion for 2020–use ancestry, that is the data you are looking for anyway. You will have to expand your computer codes but you will have more definitive info especially if you allow the use of two codes ie Asian- Hispanic couple- 222 and 333.

  16. pds says:

    Census staff – Nobody is arguing that people would self-identify that way, but there is an opportunity for them to write it in. In the meantime, by including the term, you’ve endorsed it. And that is going to come back to bite you because you’ve alienated a huge portion of the African American community.

  17. Grad Student T. says:

    Dr. Groves- thanks for your work on the U.S. Census! I don’t know how many people who read this web log know how respected you are in your field but those who do can appreciate how lucky we are to have you on this important task for our democracy. May I just put in a word to emphasize that this process is about representing the popular will at its most fundamental level. It would be a shame if many African Americans became so offended by the term “negro” that this caused them to become underrepresented on the census (which has direct implications for political power and representation). It is laudable that an experiment is being conducted to see if inclusion or non-inclusion of the term has any bearing on rate of response and data quality. For the picture is complicated by the fact that we also want to combat “ageism” on the census and so if older African Americans prefer the anachronistic term we should respect that wish on their part. This is a very sensitive line to walk and it is fortunate that we have someone whose reputation for fairness and methodological soundness is heading up this task. And thank you for taking time to work on a web log and to your staff for their responses. Let’s all take a deep breath and remember it’s not about us as individuals and our particular likes and dislikes. It’s about us a nation, a people, an evolving democracy and we should endeavor to be generous of spirit when interpreting each other’s motives during this process.

  18. Chris B. says:

    The turms “black”, “negro”(Latin for black) and “white” should all be taken off of the census. Humans DO NOT realy have white of black skin to begin with. Human complections range from light pint ot dark brown. For the 2020 census, mabe you should take such into consideration.

  19. Greg J says:

    Why isn’t Caribbean and African nations listed under Other/Black as Cuba and Colombia are nations are listed under Hispanic, and the Korea and Vietnam are listed under Asian?

  20. Jerry says:

    I’m with Chris on this. The Constitution requires a count of people not what race/skin color/ancestry/ethnic background/nationality/ we are. Just count the people.

  21. Richard S. says:

    We as a free society will never be completely rid of racial issues as long as our government promotes division and segregation through catagorization in the census and the social programs created by it.

  22. Robert Davis says:

    I will fill out race as an Other: “European American” and will encourage my extended family and friends to do the same. My white physician is from South Africa and is more “African American” than blacks born in the US who are several generations removed from African ancestors. Your problem is the lack of parallel construction in the choices. Either make it black and white, or make it “black, African American, Negro” and “white, European American, Caucasian” and similar choices for people of Asian, Native American, etc. descent. I am offended by the obvious political correctness bias of this questin.

  23. Arthur N. Weaver says:

    I agree with Richard S. Forget about race, we need three (3) categories: Natural Born Americans; Naturalized Americans; and Other (with no option to specify).

  24. Akassabov says:

    This question is terribly poorly worded and therefore is very misleading. This is no longer about one’s race. This question has become about one’s ethnicity and ancestry. Chinese, Korean, Japanese — those are not definitions of a race. If this question is based on people’s responses, then if a bunch of trekkies were to write in ‘Vulcan’, would it appear as a choice on the next census form? And if the census form is available in Russian, shouldn’t Russian be one of the choices, so that next time you can mail English/Russian forms to Russian-speaking households?
    The more I think about it, the more unsure I am of how to answer it. I’m of Jewish-Armenian descent. Does that make me White? My wife is Chinese, so that’s easy. But which category do our kids fall into?
    And most importantly, what impact does it all have on the outcome of the census?

  25. M. RennDawg Renner says:

    What if I do not believe in race. I don’t. There is only one race. That is the human race. God did not make an African Race, a European race or an Asian race etc. etc. etc. I will not answer questions about a subject I do not believe exists.

  26. Denise Gregg says:

    I agree with you Jerry English. As an American-African, I’ve often been disappointed when completing any application, form, or anything that has questions and race/ethnicity is included, and the choice have to do with white and black. Simply and stupidly not a choice for race/ethnicity. Simply it is just a color. Therefore my answer, leave it blank or decline to state on the “other” line.

  27. Denise Gregg says:

    You need to get over your attitude and your racist comment….There is no such race/ethnicity as Black Am. or White Am. Black and white are simply colors, and not fitted to be labled as a category for a human being’s ethnicity type.
    Heck you might as well use “COLORED” AS A CATEGORY, and then save the ink on the paper because that fits everyone. We as a people are a whole hue of colors, NOT BLACK OR WHITE, GET OUT OF THE 1950’S and open your eyes, better yet show me some “white” and “black’ American’s. F.Y.I., you will only find them in a coloring book, with crayons. But wait this is the turn of the century, if you go to LakeShore, you will find that they sell “FLESH TONED” crayons, and guess what, not one black or white crayon in a pack of 30 crayons.

  28. Denise Gregg says:

    IF, YOU consider yourself A Black American, the guess what, in your own words YOU ARE considering or calling yourself, a negro, because “NEGRO IS BLACK in Spanish!!!!!

  29. Tammy says:

    I agree that race should be taken out of the equasion. Americans are Americans regardless of ethnicity or skin color. Perhaps a better category would be born in USA or US Territory (Yes or no)along with a question about citizenship to denote those who are now American through citizenship. Perhaps country of family origin should be included if we want to explore the family tree. We already know that the United States has great ethnical diversity.

  30. Terry says:

    I am offended, White! What is it? Many cultures and mixed? This is stupid Asian are broken down. Blacks should be also.

  31. Greg,
    The Census Bureau collects race and Hispanic origin information following the guidance of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) standards for collecting and tabulating data on race and Hispanic origin. The 2010 Census race question is designed to collect and produce reliable data that are classified into one or more of the 5 OMB race groups: “White,” “Black or African American,” “American Indian or Alaska Native,” “Asian,” and “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander.” The “Some other race” category is included in the 2010 Census race question (mandated by Congress) for respondents who do not identify with any of the 5 OMB race categories.
    Through the use of write-in lines, special instructions, and examples, the 2010 Census race question is designed to reliably elicit American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, detailed Asian groups, and detailed Pacific Islander groups; and the question on Hispanic origin is designed to elicit detailed Hispanic origin groups. The 2010 Census race question does not use any design features such as write-in lines, special instructions, or examples to reliably elicit White ethnic groups (e.g., German, Iranian) or Black ethnic groups (e.g., Haitian, Nigerian, etc.). These groups will be included in the larger categories of “White” or “Black or African American.”
    Many respondents write in national origins and ethnic groups in response to the decennial census question on race. The OMB race definitions will be used to guide the Census Bureau in categorizing national origin or ethnic group write-in responses into one or more OMB race categories or into the “Some other race” category. The OMB Standards define the “Black or African American” category as including persons having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.
    Information on White ethnic groups and Black ethnic groups is tabulated in the question on ancestry, which is collected and tabulated annually in the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Within this data, a number of Subsaharan African groups such as Ethiopian, Kenyan, and Somalian, and a number of West Indian groups, such as Haitian and Jamaican, are tabulated in ACS ancestry tables.
    Alternative formats for questions that collect race and ethnic data are being tested as part of the 2010 Census Alternative Questionnaire Experiment. Some of the alternative formats include features specifically designed to elicit White ethnic groups and Black ethnic groups in response to the question on race. The results of this research will help inform future race and ethnic testing in preparation for the 2020 Census.

  32. pds says:

    As most know, the ACS isn’t nearly as comprehensive as the Census. It’s not designed to be. By failing to ask questions of ancestry, the Census fails to retrieve vital information about the demographics of its people.
    Large groups such as “Black / African American” fail to tell communities about the nuances within it, or the ability to compare community to community.
    Back to the choice of Negro, though.
    You say that there are no write-in choices. Have you surveyed people to find out if they would choose African American / Black if Negro were not available?
    They most likely would have.
    In the meantime, I cannot tell you the number of Black people I know who are upset by the use of this word on the Census.

  33. robert says:

    Just put the country your ancestors were from in the other box. You got question number 8 to show how Hispanic you are.

  34. rob says:

    The Cencus should go back to the way it used to be and have a space for where the mother was born and a space for where the father was born. I found it helpful when I was researching my heritage and I am so glad that this form was not used back then. They should also throw in a colour palat so people can more accuratly show what hue of white, black, yellow, red or green they are.

  35. rob says:

    Your White. Jewish is a religion. Can a black person stop being black by becoming jewish? Im Atheist with catholic ancestors what race does that make me?

  36. says:

    Well said Grad Student T. People are clueless as to how the questions and answers are used. Everyone just seems to wait to be offended by SOMETHING. In my opinion the race question is strictly used for distribution of funding…which as we know is a VERY political issue, another topic for later discussion.

  37. says:

    MY basic complaints is that the UNITED STATES 2010 CENSUS SEEMS to forget that they were mailed in America.
    WHY in OUR Country does the HISPANIC, LATINO, OR SPANISHComer above and before those of us that were born and raised here.
    I find this very insluting.
    I make a phone call here and I have to press a number to get English. I am sick of it.
    I think everyone shoudl be counted, but Remember Washington this is OUR Country not just your politics.
    You don’t ask anything about occupations? YOU ask nothing about how many are UN-EMPLOYED! This is useful information used by trillions of Geneologists. WAKE-UP!!!!!! why CAN’T YOU JUST COUNT THE PEOPLE.

  38. William C. Sinclair says:

    I was wondering when the reports were due. I noticed here the forms would be sent out soon, this answered my question. I’ve seen so much about the census on TV that I thought the forms were already out and I didn’t receive mine. William C> Sinclair

  39. booker says:

    SEE the color paradigm in this country.This is just what the government want’s.

  40. BT says:

    WHY do you care what wording is used?
    You just all want to complain… because if it was written another way, you would complain the other sdie of the coin.
    Stop being so embarrased of your ethnicity… If you are are white…and if you are are black. DEAL with it.

  41. Kerry Hunt says:

    Your granddaughter, like the rest of us, is a member of the HUMAN race. The only excuse to keep race issues alive in this country, is to make a profit from it.

  42. Dena says:

    As an Hispanic, you get your own question. It is not a part of the “race” question as a whole, but rather is it’s own question as in, Are you of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish descent? Why there needs to be two questions on the topic of ancestral descent I do not know. Just another way to attempt to segregate the population into believing that we are not all Americans.

  43. Dena says:

    Wonder what would happen to the “Census” if everyone in the country simply did a write in identifying themselves as “Human” race?

  44. Enrique says:

    For years now I have been avoiding checking Hispanic on my non-mandatory ethnic forms & questionnaires, and I guess now, that I have won my case.
    Unfortunately, very many Hispanics were registering as Hispanics, and I wonder where they will now answer, if the Hispanic/Spanish ethnic coice is not even on the form. IN fact, there were more Hispanics than Negroes, a score of years ago, and unless the Giants ate them all, then we won’t miss “High” at all. So many Hispanics are not required to answer the ethnic question, as I have held all along, and it makes us feel responsible.
    Ty4offingusoffdalist that doesn’t matter, because to most people one’s cultural/ethnic backround is evident, once apparent; and if not, should be motivation for an adaptation, rather than a prosthetization. Cultural groups need to be reminded of that, now and then.

  45. Paul says:

    As to the question to race. My mother is every white race, & also many other races, My Father is 1/2 Spanish 1/2 Filipino, so what does this make me? In short a mix breed. So What would be the best answer to the race question? I have no clue? Why is there a sepreation of Spanish Orgin of that of white? Is there no part Spanish & White peopole in the country? Is it that you can not be White along with another race? Have news for you, I am not the only well mixed race out there.

  46. American says:

    Racism: a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination
    The census is a tool to provide people of different color, different amounts of money. This is based on the judgment that a race has a disposition of poverty, based on color alone.
    I am sickened by this blatant racism that is allowed and celebrated in the United States of America. I am an American. My family is American. I grew up poor in a mobile home. I now live in a 4 bedroom home with a family and a job.
    Stop offering me money because of my race. I’m offended and disgusted that any American would stoop to the level of being placated by politicians. Stop telling me I’m stupid, poor, or “disadvantaged” because of my race.
    Americans unite. Check mark “Other” under the race section, and write American. Refuse the money. Fire the racist politicians that shove money in our faces, like we’re incapable of making a decent living because of our color.
    Fire racist politicians.

  47. American says:

    Deal with this: politicians beat us blacks down every day by giving us hand outs and cheap housing, like we’re too stupid to make our own living. I’m tire of being treated differently because I’m black. White people either apologize for something they never did to me, pat me on the head and give me money like I’m stupid, or hate me because they’re forced to do one of the two things above.
    Stop racism in America. Stop asking me my color whenever I do anything.

  48. Zee says:

    this is the same this i said jerry when i saw it. why is it not “white, european american” This census is jacked up and whoever is in charge of it needs to be removed and get ppl who will create a better one.

  49. Zee says:

    U are exactly right Charles. The color classification has to go when it comes to europeans and african ppl and ppl of that decent. U never see “Yellow” for Asians or “Red” for Native Americans or “Brown” for Latin ppl. I agree with 100%.


    If you want to be inclusive of all Americans, stop using divisive language. How can you claim to live in this country and not know that Negro is offensive as an OFFICIAL question of racial identity to the public at large (not just Black people living in America – be they native or from the diaspora of the world). Would you feel comfortable, Dr. Groves, walking up to me or any person you think may be Black from any part of the world but especially this country and asking me if I was a “Negro” for research purposes and population count? I don’t think you would. Therefore, it should not be on this questionairre. I’ve heard this 56,000 figure repeated over and over and emphasis on the fact that half of the people that answered this way were under the age of 45 in 2000. Why didn’t you all provide the number of people that struck through the word and told you to remove this question like I plan to do? 56,000 is a very small number compared to the complete population of Black people living in America (and sorry, not all of them are “African Americans” which is why I use Black). Do you mean to tell me these 56,000 represent the majority of Black people living in America? Are there that few of us?
    Dr. Groves, I’m appalled. I think that you and your team fail for this gross negligence. Offering your sentiments at the people who are hurt by this is not acceptable. How do you think that sending out 30,000 test forms without the option will rectify the many years this has been going on where no one cared to respond.
    Perhaps some of the 30% of the population that did not respond in past years were largely represented by people who were so appalled at your choice of language, they didn’t trust you to accurately represent anything else you were surveying for.
    “Some of the commentary on the question comes from people offended by the term. I apologize to them. 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. Full inclusiveness was the goal.” — I’M SURE THE INTENT OF YOUR COLLEAGUES WAS MALICE. 56,000 IS NOT A NUMBER LARGE ENOUGH TO REPRESENT A GROUP NEED FOR IDENTITY. DO YOU HAVE 560 BLACK EMPLOYEES AT THE U.S. CENSUS? DID YOU POLL THEM TO FIND OUT IF THEY WERE OFFENDED BY THE TERM ‘NEGRO’. IF 56,000 PEOPLE WROTE IN “SPOOK” WOULD YOU ADD THAT AS A CHOICE AS WELL?!
    How can such an educated group of people be so callous and absurd?

  51. Census is ridiculous says:

    Why don’t you write in pink and ask 55, 999 friends to follow suit, then they will add Pink to bring forth “White, Caucasian Am., or Pink).

  52. Bill Hamilton says:

    I also agree with Jerry English. I am whitish but my race is Caucasian. Also, you didn’t ask anything about my ethnic background, which is mostly German with Dutch, English, Scottish, Irish, French and Spanish thrown into the mix. I like to call myself “Heinz 57”.
    Also, my wife is an American of Japanese decent. Her race is Asian not Japanese – a national group.
    I also don’t understand where the mixed race people fit in. We don’t have children but if we did they’d Caucasian/Asian mixed. One of our nieces is Afro-Asian – there’s no space for her.
    I really find this whole section to be poorly thought out and am reluctent to send any information because of it.

  53. Robert S. says:

    I think it is mostly overly concerned white people that are afraid of the word “Negro”. After all how could a black person be offended by another black person for calling himself a negro? I have, on the other hand, offended black people by calling them “African American.” That term deals more with heritage than race. And black people come from many other countries/continents than Africa. My offended black friend was from Columbia. Lastly regarding this issue, there is much scientific evidence that the whole human race originated in one place (namely Africa).
    This race thing is ridiculous. It has been my experience that racial classification causes separation and hatred. Let us join together as members of the human race. Mark “Some other race” and write in “human” if you identify with what I’m saying.

  54. Aloja Airewele says:

    Why NEGRO in 2010? What is the problem with this Nation? One step forward, ten backwards. I have not heard any person of African origin refer to himself or herself as a negro in decades. America!!

  55. Jim says:

    As long as any group is considered a minority or majority, there will be a delineation between races\color etc…. The purpose of these questions, as I understand it, is to put money towards that minority or majority community. So the terms that should be used on the form are those that are in the laws that make that group a minority or majority.
    Get rid of the fill in and multiple terms for the same group of people. Use the term(s) that are outlined in the laws that makes them a minority or majority.
    If the public wishes to change the terms, then ammend the laws with the new term.

  56. MMR,VA says:

    I totally agree with you. I was very offended when I saw that question. I was furious honestly. I feel that they still see us as the did years and years ago. I am very disappointed and disgusted.

  57. Shellie says:

    I thought the classification of “negro” was like taking a step back in history. What I thought was funnier, not a funny haha, but a funny strange, was the fact that there is a classification of “chicano”. My fiance, who is Mexican American, also found that a little odd and we talked about this very thing last night.
    I am white and of European decent. Why am I just a color? Why is “white” considered a race? Why is it that if you’re “white” everyone automatically assumes that you can’t be offended by just being referred to as a color? I’m German, Scottish, Irish, English, French, and even a little Iroquois Indian – A Euro/American Mutt if you will. Why isn’t there a category for European American? If everyone wants to segregate themselves into these categories,why do we neglect to categorize the Italians, Irish, Scottish, Germans, etc?
    Many categories of “white” people throughout history have had to fight for their rights in this country as well. Irish for example, were treated horribly. Not to minimize what African Americans have gone through, or Native Americans, because prejudice of any kind is horrible and nobody should have to put up with or endure any hardships because of it. But, if we’re going to be equal in this country, then we need to all be “classified” and “categorized” as such and not just assume that if you’re “white” that’s all the further discussion that needs to take place – this is the “melting pot” after all, find out all your ingredients!

  58. Rhoda Hall says:

    Although the word “negro” (with a small “n”) in Spanish means “black” (with a small “b”), it refers to a color. It does not refer to a race of people. Black or African American are the more acceptable terms for the majority of people. Adding the word “Negro” to the 2010 Census Form is definitely causing a lot of controversy. A lot of people are throwing away their forms because of this. There will definitely not be an accurate count. Why can’t they put “Other” with a blank line beside Black or African American for people who want to refer to themselves as “Negro”. This word will give other races the impression that it is okay to call people the “N-word” again.

  59. Rhoda Hall says:

    I agree with pds

  60. Christine Fallon says:

    Well said…bravo.My children are also multiracial and are nowhere represented on this form.I believe the race is human for ALL.No matter what..:))

  61. Cha says:

    Classifying people with colors is ridiculous. How about we include tones of brown and pink? (I was not included!) And let’s not forget about the yellows and reds.
    In all seriousness…why must we identify with a race/ethnicity in the Census? How does that help distribute federal funding? Honestly! “Race data are also used to assess fairness of employment practices, to monitor racial disparities…” (Source: spend too much time classifying people! That’s the problem.

  62. Pamlea says:

    I don’t understand why there are some sub-groups in the Asian race and not the white/caucasian race. I like to know how many people of Russia, Germany, Swiss, Canada, Anglo, Italian, etc.
    And what about people from African countries? Some of them are not Black.
    This census is too crazy

  63. JL says:

    Are you serious? Negro? I cannot believe that in 2010 the term Negro would be used to identify a race of people. Not only are we not moving forward, but we have just taken several leaps back. If you have this group of people, as you say, who want to be identified as “Negro”, then you should just let them write it in. I was going to be a good American and fill out this census as I felt it was my duty to be counted. However, because of your decision to use this word, for that reason and that reason only I will not be filling out this form as I am sure many, many more as well.

  64. nocolor says:

    Yes, this is America and America only. Unfortunately Americans believe that they are a supreme race( There is a lot of racism between immigrants and their descendants, even in the white community). America, however, was made by immigrants who came from many countries centuries ago. Looks like we forget our history, our background. Also we forget to teach our children where we came from. unfortunately the term race is more often use as a racism term than just ethnicity.

  65. PB says:


  66. Karen says:

    I think this form is quite flawed. First, why does the form only ask about people of Hispanic origin? How is the term “Origin” being defined? Every person completing the form has an origin, why does only Hispanic (which is not really an “origin,” but is a racial category) matter enough to count it? There are people from many different cultures, including Middle Eastern, Arab, and Eastern European, who cannot identify their origin on this form and also presumably get lumped into the “White” racial category in Question 9. Next, Question 9 regarding race is ridiculous. Again, I ask how is the term “Race” being used on this form? It certainly is not being used consistently. “White” is not a race– period. The race would be Caucasian. Further, people of Hispanic origin are no more “White” than people of Asian decent. Still, Asian races have several nationalities (China, Japan, etc.) listed as options to select for race in Question 9. National origin is not a race, but is an origin and should be listed in Question 8, not Question 9 (like Cuban, Spanish, Mexican, etc., which for Hispanics is requested in Question 8). Likewise, what if the person (like we are) is of a native/indigenous North American race (e.g., Huasteca Indian)? These tribes are not members of the arbitrary racial category of “American Indian” because those are only tribes that the US recognizes that it took land from and/or put on reservations and which are on a list that the US has compiled. However, long before the US existed, all of these tribes lived throughout North America without the modern borders we now recognize (e.g., US, Canada, Mexico, etc.). So, should we list ourselves as American Indian? We are of one of the many tribes/peoples residing in North America. If Hispanic were an option for “Race,” we would select that option and this issue would not arise. I just don’t understand how any Asian nationalities are considered to be “Race” and Hispanic nationalities somehow become “Origin(s)”. THIS FORM DISCRIMINATES IN ITS OWN APPLICATION OF RACE/NATIONAL ORIGIN! If the US Census bureau is considering removing the antiquated label “Negro” from the form, they should also consider adding “Hispanic” (and or the national origins currently listed in Question 8) to the race question (Question 9) and deleting Question 8 altogether. Ideally, Question 8 should be deleted and Question 9 should be revamped to define what “Race” actually is for purposes of this form, then apply that stated definition equally to all populations being counted and then expand the list of the potential races (including mixed race categories) under that same question with a broad “Other” category. Still, the most important consideration is HOW WILL THIS INFORMATION BE USED? If the numbers from the census are going to direct government attention and/or money to remedy problems that exist in society (e.g. education, social services, etc.) in particular geographic areas, why would the government not want to identify Hispanic as a race too? Does Question 8 regarding origin also direct government funding or is it just Question 9 regarding race? Treat all people equally on this FORM as we strive to in real life!

  67. Karen,
    The Census Bureau collects race data as guided by the OMB statistical policy directive 15, OMB defines these guidelines for consistency across federal programs. The collection of race and Hispanic origin data is important and required. The Census Bureau collects race and Hispanic origin information in order to provide data required by various federal programs, laws and regulations.

  68. Shere says:

    Dear Cedric, I don’t believe many people would say to you that they are Negro. Why would you ask someone’s race. That’s rude, even if you are an employee.

  69. A_DIVA_LAWYER_RMW says:

    I believe that race classifications should have been excluded from the Census. First, associating a human being with a color is dehumanizing. What human is actually “black” or “white”? I’ve never met a “black” or “white” person. I’ve meet people from different ethnic backgrounds. Although, I’ve met people from different ethnic backgrounds, they are either AMERICANS or NON-AMERICANS. Perhaps, the most accurate question to pose would be “Are you an AMERICAN?” Second, race classifications have always been a controversial issue in America. When there are race classifications, then stereotypes, generalizations, and prejudices are perpetuated. History has taught us that the term “NEGRO” is a slang word for “Negroid”. However, the term “NEGRO” evolved into a negative term associated with people of African descent. (1)NEGRO = inferior,savages, slaves, and uneducated (2)BLACK = death, inferior, plague, and a fatal disease (3) WHITE = pure, innocent, and superior (4) RED = savages, barbaric, unruly, radical. Do you see those stereotypes associated with those race classifications? We are all constantly confronted with these classifications at work, school, local communities, and the government. I can safely assume that regardless of the changes in history – WE, the people are still reminded of our place in society.

  70. Gary says:

    You are explaining the collection and categorization and that is fine. My question is what possible use of this data could there be? Those of us who are multiracial can’t seem to figure out how to fill out these forms. The purposes stated on the registration forms regarding distribution of Federal Dollars makes sense if you are just counting people and maybe male/female status. Unless you are the Gestapo why would you want to know race/ethnicity?

  71. Dolores Medina says:

    I am Mexican American but yet in question #8 It states that Hispanic origins are not races.If Hispanic origins are not races then what am I going to answer to #9? I am not White, Black, American Indian…etc. Even my ass which has not seen the sun in a while could not pass for white.
    I agree that this whole section is poorly thought out too.

  72. Ray C says:

    I would like to see the word “Negro” eliminated from the 2020 census in the future. I was very offended by the term. I don’t know any “Negro’s” or anyone that identifies themselves as such. I was seriously considering not filling out the census because it is racist and offensive.


    As this is an actual count/scientific measurement, scientifically, there are only 3 “races” that make up the entire population of the world!!! They are Mongoloid, caucasoid and negroid. The question is what is your race, not what you want to be identified as!!! I am an american black man, who obviously has a decent from Africa. But my race is negroid. I am 48 and will be 49 later on this year. As far as I am concerned, NEGRO IS MY RACE AND THAT’S WHAT I REPLIED IN MY CENSUS HERE IN WYOMING!!! WHAT IS OFFENSIVE TO ME IS THE LACK OF EDUCATION THAT IS SHOWN WITH REGARD TO THIS!!!


    As a 48 (49 in october)_black man, born and raised in this country, served in the Army and now live and work in Gillette, Wyoming. What OFFENDS me is the lack of education of my own people!!! I was taught many years ago, and to my knowledge it has not changed, that there are only 3 “races” that make up the entire world, Mongoloid, caucasoid and negroid. As this count is a scientific measurement, and the question is what is your race, NEGRO OR NEGROID IS THE CORRECT ANSWER!!!! ALL BLACK PEOPLE,AMERICAN AND AFRICAN ARE NEGROID OR NEGRO!!!! LIKE I SAID, I HATE IT WHEN MY OWN PEOPLE MAKE US LOOK STUPID!!!

  75. Carla R says:

    Alfred, (I hope I did not post this twice)
    We all are not stupid! Additionally, that statement does not make you any better than the next person. We all have differences of opinions. It is called agree to disagree.
    Any any event, the word Negro was used in the English-speaking world to refer to a person of black ancestry or appearance, whether of African descent or not, prior to the shift in the lexicon of American and worldwide classification of race and ethnicity in the late 1960s. The word “negro” means “black” in Spanish and Portuguese[1], from the Latin niger (“black”). The Usage WAS Accepted As Normal, Even By People Classified As Negros, Until The Civil Rights Movement.
    During the American Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, some African American leaders in the United States objected to the word, preferring Black,[2] because they associated the word Negro with the long history of slavery, segregation, and discrimination that treated African Americans as second class citizens, or worse. During the 1960s … See MoreNegro came to be considered an Ethnic Slur.
    Ethnic Slur – used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or insulting manner in the English-speaking world.
    How can Census justify their use of the term Negro? If it is not a big deal, why weren’t other ethnic slurs used for other nationalities?

  76. Angela says:

    I agree with Gary, why is the race/ethnicity important? Schools in the African American communities have lower funding and it makes me wonder if you all did a count based on people instead of ethnicity maybe they would get more funding to provide better education. We are all people and I believe that America is the only country that focuses so much on race/ethnicity. Times have changed drastically and everyone has a little of almost all ethnicities that they could claim on these forms so why not just do away with it all together.

  77. CS says:

    Why would the word negro be used on a census form in the 21st century? We are definitely going backwards instead of forwards. The race category needs to be taken out of the census immediately.

  78. a Chicago enumerator says:

    Choose multiple categories.

  79. a Chicago enumerator says:

    I’ve thought that too. As an enumerator rephrasing the question, I usually use the term Caucasian. This debate over “white” and “negro” simply reflects our changed culture. I’m shocked that there is so much offense over the term “negro.” I simply assumed that it was listed because there are still people today that would use that term to identify themselves, not with any intent to offend.
    To me, separating the Hispanic/Latino question merely acknowledges that someone can come from a South/Central American country and not “look” it. It’s merely a way of looking at the population change in this country’s newest immigrants.

  80. ChadJC says:

    I am Caucasian, but my wife and I have adopted children who are not. This has led us to hundreds of interactions with people about race. I have not as yet seen or heard any overwhelming preference toward “Black,” “African American,” “Colored,” or “Negro,” referring again to people identifying themselves or their families. It is true that “African American” seems to be used more frequently, but I have heard all of them. When the census says that 56,000 people self-identified as “Negro” it means that there are probably 10 times that number who still use the word regularly. The word can certainly be used as a slander, but when used in support of the people it represents it is not automatically racist, degrading, or dated.

  81. Esther says:

    Dear Dolores,
    Mexico’s population is as racially diverse as that of the United States, it is just that the percentages are different. The Mexican government has choses not to classify its population by the standard anthropological races, rather it has chosen to classify its population by skin tone–light, medium, dark.
    Indeed, Latin Americans are as racially diverse as non Latin Americans, and whenever Latin Americans enter the United States no magic happens that somehow morphs Latin Americans biologically and behaviorally into a uniformity that erases their diversity.
    As for the Spanish surnames of Latin Americans, well…one can determine nothing about Latin Americans who have a Spanish surname, because in Latin America a Spanish surname was automatically given to the indigenous and to the Africans as a precondition­ to being baptized.
    To assume or force any racial classification through the US Census because of an Individual’s Spanish surname or Latin American heritage would be bigoted, to be sure, as such bigotry brings to mind the same type of correlation­ legally put forth by the Nazis in Germany, back in the day: If Jewish surnamed then one must be non white. Interesting­ how history repeats itself…
    You clearly know you are not white, but there are many Mexican who clearly know they are are white. The fact is that in Mexico the word Hispanic stands for white European as it does in all of Latin America. Latin Americans use that word in the same manner as we in the United State use Anglo Saxon. All educated Mexicans know this.
    So Dolores, your dilemma is unique to you and your family and cannot and should not be attributed to all Latin Americans via the US Census. My personal guess is that you are Aztec, and if you are, you should be beaming with pride.

  82. Richard Cushon says:


  83. Thaxton Waters says:

    I’m of African ancestory, but not necessarily from the continent of Africa. I consider myself a True American. When Christopher Columbus first rowed ashore in this land,the first people he saw was the True American (black people),what a shock that must have been. Most people don’t know this,we’ve been told a lie from the very begining. They were called Moors,they’ve been intentionly left out of the history books. So,all slaves did not come from Africa,we were already here. Everyone else is an immigrant. The True American has to stop letting people name us black,negro,colored,African American. Have any of you True Americans ever looked up the definition of BLACK,it’s dispicable,and you still want to be called that. Now,take WHITE on the other hand,the definition is just the opposite. No,don’t call me black,or any of the names that we’ve been named. True Americans will never have a nation of people if we don’t have one name,a true name.

  84. Now we know who the ssebnile one is here. Great post!

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