|Articles, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-02-24 20:24Z by Steven|
Cable News Network (CNN)
Martha S. Jones, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Associate Professor of History
University of Michigan
(CNN) — When the census listed Negro as a race option in 2010, a controversy erupted.
My students at the University of Michigan were eager to denounce the term’s use: “Negro? It has to go!”
To their ears, “Negro” was derogatory, too close in tone to the other, more infamous n-word. I played devil’s advocate, to test their thinking: “But some black elders still self-identify as Negroes.” “It’s preferable to its predecessor, colored.”
“Don’t some of you belong to the National Council of Negro Women chapter?”
I could not shake their thought.
I was confronting a generational divide. For my grandmother, “Negro” was a term of respect. To my students, it was an epithet…
…My CNN essay “Biracial and also black” generated a debate about the words we use to describe African-Americans. I called myself mixed-race, a phrase that includes identities rooted in multiple races.
Another term, biracial, some readers pointed out, assumes one identity borne out of two. It is, perhaps, too narrow for a discussion about identity in the 21st century.
Some readers also rejected the phrase “African-American,” deeming it awkward and inaccurate. Renee wrote: “We are not from Africa, I was born here in the U.S. I don’t know anyone there, can’t even say my ancestors are from there.”…
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