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.

Posts Tagged ‘negro’

First biracial president? Nope! First black president? Yes!

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Though MyTwoCensus would have classified President Obama as biracial, he views himself as “black” and his kids as “black” too. The following confirmation to our inquiries was first reported by the New York Times:

It is official: Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president.

A White House spokesman confirmed that Mr. Obama, the son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, checked African-American on the 2010 census questionnaire.

The president, who was born in Hawaii and raised there and in Indonesia, had more than a dozen options in responding to Question 9, about race. He chose “Black, African Am., or Negro.” (The anachronistic “Negro” was retained on the 2010 form because the Census Bureau believes that some older blacks still refer to themselves that way.)

Mr. Obama could have checked white, checked both black and white, or checked the last category on the form, “some other race,” which he would then have been asked to identify in writing.

There is no category specifically for mixed race or biracial.

Instructions for the census’s American Community Survey, which poses the question in the same way as the 2010 form, say that “people may choose to provide two or more races either by marking two or more race response boxes, by providing multiple write-in responses, or by some combination of marking boxes and writing in responses.”

In the 2000 census, when Americans first were allowed to check more than one box for race, about 6.8 million people reported being of two or more races.

Census Director Apologizes for the word “Negro” on the Census form

Monday, March 29th, 2010

From the New York Times:

When Robert Groves, the director of the Census Bureau, appeared on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” program Friday morning, he found himself having to defend the racial designations on the census form.

A female caller posed this question: “I am black. I did not appreciate the black, the African-American, and Negro. … I do not like that…. It really hurt my feelings … that to me is racist.”

Mr. Groves, who has dealt with the ‘Negro’ designation before, apologized once again, explaining that before the 2000 Census began, there were many older African-Americans who called themselves “Negro.”

He also said he doubted that the category would still be around for the next census:

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. […] It was not to be offensive, and again I apologize on that. My speculation is that, in 2020, that word will disappear, and there are going to be other words that are going to change.

Learning from the “Negro” controversy

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

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.

“Negro” has been on census forms for 60 years

Friday, January 8th, 2010

News organizations across the country have reported on the controversy surrounding the word “Negro” on forms for the 2010 Census.

But a Census Bureau official tells NPR that “Negro” has been on the forms since at least 1950.

NPR also reports that 56,175 respondents wrote in “Negro” on their forms in the 2000 Census, even though the word was also included as a response choice.

One of our commenters asked when the Census Bureau last studied the wording for the question, which asks about race, and when we might see some new data. The Bureau told NPR it would examine the effects of removing “Negro” this year.

Use of “Negro” on census form causes stir

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

A question on forms for the 2010 Census uses “Negro” as a response choice, and some blacks are taking issue with the Census Bureau‘s wording.

The New York Daily News reports:

The census form for 2010 features a word more often heard in 1966: Negro.

For many New York blacks, the word conjures visions of Jim Crow and segregation – even if the Census Bureau says it’s included to ensure an accurate count of the nation’s minority residents.

“It’s a bad vibe word,” said Kevin Bishop, 45, a Brooklyn salesman. “It doesn’t agree with me, doesn’t agree with my heart.”

Pamela Reese Smith, visiting the city yesterday from Rochester, said the term was outdated.

“I don’t think my ancestors would appreciate it in 2010,” said Smith, 56. “I don’t want my grandchildren being called Negroes.”

Question No. 9 on this year’s census form asks about race, with one of the answers listed as “black, African-Am. or Negro.”

Census Bureau spokesman Jack Martin said the use of “Negro” was intended as a term of inclusion.

“Many older African-Americans identified themselves that way, and many still do,” he said. “Those who identify themselves as Negroes need to be included.”

The form was also approved by Congress more than a year ago, and the word has appeared on past forms.

Readers, weigh in: Is “Negro” inappropriate or inclusive?