U.S. CENSUS: Black, African-American, or Negro (Circle One)….is this really a big deal?

By Jesse Muhammad

Ok, here we go again, huh?

I got a call from a business associate who asked me if I was listening to the local Houston station, Praise 92.1FM, because the U.S. Census was the topic. She told me that the radio show host was discussing the 2010 census questionnaire having a “Negro” option in the race section.

She then said she immediately knew that if it was true that I was going to blog about it. I started not to. But after going to the website of 92.1 and then Googling some more, she was right. I sparked up a conversation about it with my Twitter friends.

The Twitter census was: “I’m not surprised but wow."

Here are the facts: the government is in preparation of launching the 2010 Census in two months. The survey has 10 total questions and Question 9 is the problem right now. The question asks "What is person 1's race?” and part of the option is "Black, African Am., or Negro."

Negro? Yes, Negro.

Well, a spokesperson from the U.S. Census Bureau defended the option by stating that there are a lot of older Black people who still refer to themselves as Negro instead of Black or African-American. The spokesperson also said they surveyed people prior to putting the option on the questionnaire and found that people would be more acceptable to it than opposing it.

Well that remains to be seen. “Survey says?!”…. Black people not happy about it.

“Come on, this is absurd. In the age of a supposedly post-racial America, they should have know this would hit a nerve,” Greg Stanson, of Houston, texted to me. “But I’m not surprised.”

“I really could care less Brother Jesse,” says Jessica Felix. “We call one another n—ger and negro as terms of endearment. Then we wanna protest when others use it. A wise person doesn’t respond to what they are not. I’m not a negro, so I’m not checking that word.

That’s just two out of the hundred-plus people I have heard from since I found this out. On Twitter, one Black woman tweeted “my mother uses Black and so does my father. They've never used African American.” But she added that “It is true that some older folks use Negro.”

I am oblivious to that. My grandmother is 80 years-old and I have never heard her refer to herself as a Negro or even African-American when I was growing up in her home, nor have I heard her long-time associates. So who and where is this segment of our population still calling themselves Negro?

Houston activists and government officials to host town hall meeting

Community activist Quanell X and others held a meeting last week with the U.S. Census’ Regional Director to discuss the removal of the word from the survey which is unlikely since millions of mail outs have already went out to homes throughout the country.

According to Quanell X in a phone interview, the Regional Census representatives told them that reportedly a small rural town took a survey and approximately 56,000 older Black citizens voted to have the term ‘Negro’ on the form as their racial identify.

“They would not tell us who did this survey or where the survey took place,” says Quanell X. “I ultimately see this as a conspiracy to insult us, to makes us disgruntled so we won’t participate in the census. This will leave us undercounted, underserved and underfunded in our communities.”

Quanell X declared Black people must “look beyond the hurt of the word and participate in the census. Don’t let this be a distraction.”

He and other leaders will be hosting a town hall meeting in Houston on Thursday, January 14 at the Judson Robinson Center (2020 Hermann Drive) at 7:00pm. The theme is “The 2010 Census: The Word Negro and Where Do We Go From Here."

QUESTION: Do you think the use of this word is offensive? Is it really a big deal?

--Brother Jesse Preferred Tax Services--


  1. Not a big deal. They should have thrown in "colored" too so my neighbor would recognize herself. LOL I don't call myself African American unless its the only option on a form so I get that they have to give us choices. That's the least of our problems right now....get on with some REAL justice issues people.

  2. I agree...let's deal with bigger issues! HOWEVER - I think it's worth informing the masses. Thanks Brother Jesse.

  3. I think this was a tactical distraction....don't fall for it Black people. Participate in the process.

  4. Some people are still saying colored, it all depends on where you are from, and if you have any education how you classify yourself. Some peoople still dont know we are not in the era of Jim Crow. Like the census makers. When I hear colored or negro it makes feel like people think its ok to abuse, neglect and hurt black people. Just my opinion.

  5. I was wondering had you heard about that...doesn't make any sense! Not a big deal at all! If you want to participate, participate. Lets move on, we have bigger troubles to worry about! That's my opinion on the subject. :)

  6. Call me American, call me Negro/ Negroid or call me Black (same as Negro). But do not call me AFRICAN-American I have no affiliation nor desire to be affiliated with Africa. And yes, I know MY history.

  7. Recently, I found the 2010 Census form hanging on my door. As I began filling it out, I came across a dilemma. The U.S. government wants to know if my children are adopted or not and it wants to know what our races are. Being adopted myself, I had to put “Other” and “Don’t Know Adopted” for my race and “Other” and “Don’t Know” for my kids’ races.

    Can you imagine not knowing your ethnicity, your race? Now imagine walking into a vital records office and asking the clerk for your original birth certificate only to be told “No, you can’t have it, it’s sealed.”

    How about being presented with a “family history form” to fill out at every single doctor’s office visit and having to put “N/A Adopted” where life saving information should be?

    Imagine being asked what your nationality is and having to respond with “I don’t know”.

    It is time that the archaic practice of sealing and altering birth certificates of adopted persons stops.

    Adoption is a 5 billion dollar, unregulated industry that profits from the sale and redistribution of children. It turns children into chattel who are re-labeled and sold as “blank slates”.

    Genealogy, a modern-day fascination, cannot be enjoyed by adopted persons with sealed identities. Family trees are exclusive to the non-adopted persons in our society.

    If adoption is truly to return to what is best for a child, then the rights of children to their biological identities should NEVER be violated. Every single judge that finalizes an adoption and orders a child’s birth certificate to be sealed should be ashamed of him/herself.

    I challenge all readers: Ask the adopted persons that you know if their original birth certificates are sealed.


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