I am really quite fascinated with the outrage over the word “negro” being on the 2010 census. I have found a numerous Op-Ed pieces where the media seems to be fueling the fire, making us believe that there is some sort of negative connotation to the word negro.
Erin Aubry Kaplan of the Los Angeles Times said in his op-ed titled “The term ‘Negro’? Color it obsolete”This controversy may be new, but the angst about what to call ourselves is ancient. Over the last 40 years, we have self-identified as “black,” “Afro-American” and “African American” in an attempt get out from under the subjugationrepresented by “Negro” and, before that, “colored.”
Okay, I can go along with the word “colored” as being offensive, although I don’t know why because I am routinely called “white” which if I am not mistaken is a color provided in a box of Crayola Crayons, even though I am not white I’m Italian, which according to Wiki answers make me a Latino. But I digress.
My only concern here is that in a country that has an ever expanding Hispanic population where the word negro literally means “black” in Spanish, I hear the word multiple times every day.
My question would be this. If whites are whites and Hispanics are self described “browns” (Brown pride bumper stickers and T shirts are the norm here in Los Angeles) then what are African Americans? Am I color blind or are they black?
The African American people I work with rarely if ever call themselves African American. Just yesterday I heard a coworker say “I’m a middle aged black man” when talking about a young woman he met in a bar.
My point in all of this is that it seems that most of this hyper-sensitivity is media driven. Its as if the mainstream media seeks to divide us into groups according to the color of our skin, then pit each group against the other by writing columns like the one today in the Los Angeles Times.
I would not have a problem with the census if it called “white” people “blanco”, yet another word I hear daily to describe me because I am white.
I just don’t see why there is a problem here. The word “negro” is not obsolete. The English language is based largely on the Latin language. This is the same English language spoken by African Americans in America today. The word “Black” translates to “Negro” in Latin.
People like Erin Aubry Kaplan of the Los Angeles Times calling the word and the term “obsolete” is just a silly waste of page space. JD