'Negro' used on Census - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

'Negro' used on Census

'Negro' used on Census

by Elizabeth Fay

WAUSAU (WAOW)-- There is a lot of buzz surrounding a Census question. The question asks, "What is person 1's race?" An option is "Black, African American or Negro." Negro, is the term that's firing up area citizens.

"Derogatory, it's derogatory to the whole race. It's just racist!" says James Smith who identifies himself as African American.

"In this day and age, I don't think it's appropriate to use," says Melinda Swanson.

"I take it offensively, I do," adds Brenda Robinson.

"I'm a little confused as to what Negro, the definition to Negro actually is," says Amanda Fox, a mother to five bi-racial kids that she says are White and African American.

MerriamWebster.com says the word 'Negro' is "sometimes offensive." They define it as "a member of a race of humankind native to Africa and classified according to physical features." Some people say the term is old-fashioned and brings up bad memories from the past.

"African Americans usually identify Negro as part of the slave program," says Wausau Diversity Affairs Member, Isabel Mandeli.

People in Wausau told Newsline Nine that the word 'Negro' was unnecessary on the Census form. "African or black, that should be good enough!" says Smith.

Census representatives say they included the term because some elderly African Americans self-identify with it. They say they gave a test prior to the 2000 census and more than 50,000 Americans identified with the word 'Negro.'

Mandeli says race is a sensitive subject and communities need to work towards a better racial and cultural understanding. "One of our main points is to educate people in what are the differences. In our community, we are trying to make the whole culture issue not to be something to be afraid of talking but when you talk to people about it, to be open."

Many people in Wausau were eager to talk about race today, most of them, voicing their disapproval of the word 'Negro' on the census.

"They expect every household to fill it out. When they have things like that in there, people are going to be objective to filling it out," says Fox.

Whether you agree with the questions or not, filling out the census is required by law. Census Representatives say you can be fined up to $5,000 if you don't comply.

Online Reporter: Elizabeth Fay

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