My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Learning from the “Negro” controversy

The word “Negro” has appeared on census forms for at least 60 years, but many African Americans are taking offense to the Census Bureau using the word as a response choice in a question about race.

On Ad Age’s Big Tent blog, Pepper Miller has some good insights on the controversy surrounding the wording. Here’s an except, and check out the full post here.

After having conducted research for the 2000 and 2010 Census African-American ad campaigns, I was neither surprised nor turned off by the Census Bureau’s intent to develop inclusive options, especially given that more that 50,000 people wrote in “Negro” as their race during the 2000 Census.

I’m not the only one who thinks Wilson’s allegation that some first-timers may not participate because of the “Negro” option may be an overreaction.

“I doubt that younger voters would be that turned off, given that terms like “Ho and Ni***ga are acceptable to many of them,” says a consultant on the African-American consumer market, Jacklynn Topping. “While the word ‘Negro’ has certainly fallen out of favor, it’s more dated than offensive.” Topping adds. “In my opinion, had it never been brought up, many young people might laugh at the term, if they noticed it at all, and check it anyway.”

She concludes:

The community is more united on participating in the Census than not, but are divided on this issue. In this case, there will be some tension arising from a younger generation not necessarily keen on the word ‘Negro,’ but I don’t expect it to become a huge issue.

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