For most of the 1900s, the term “Negro” was considered the best term for African-Americans, but it eventually became antiquated, and even insulting—reminding Americans of a time when Black citizens couldn’t vote and didn’t have equal rights. Now, even though government agencies have removed the word from most surveys and census reports, it’s not yet forbidden to use, the way Trump is forbidding the CDC from saying “transgender,” for instance.
Former President Barack Obama signed a law to “modernize” 1970’s era laws to replace “Negro” with “African-American,” and “Oriental” with “Asian-American.”
Obama also has a proposal to remove “Negro,” “Far East,” and other antiquated words from all government documents and language. The White House Office of Management and Budget, who sets these standards, had a self-imposed deadline of December 1st, but have yet to announce decisions for the changes.
The Census Bureau started using the term “Negro” in 1997, during the Clinton administration, because, at the time, older Black citizens counted themselves as such. By 2010, however, the bureau’s then-director Robert Groves apologizes for offending people by using the term on the census, relating how research in the 90’s showed that “an older cohort of African-Americans,” about 56,000 people, self-reported their race by writing in “Negro” under the “some other race” category.
“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,” Groves wrote. “Full inclusiveness was the goal.”
But it doesn’t seem that Trump is ready to forbid these words, even as he prohibits “diversity” and “Science-based” from other agencies. Since he seems to think that America was last great in the 1960’s, he probably wants the term to be used more frequently again.
Read the entire report at NPR.