I’m Proud To be an Uppity ‘Negro’ In The 2010 Census

It’s my understanding that there is some liberal fallout because for the 2010 U.S. Census, they have decided to include the term “Negro” as a racial designation along with “African Am. and Black” for the same check box.

My first understanding of what happened was watching this on The Rachel Maddow Show clip.  I like Rachel, but please, in your white, female, lesbian egalitarian mindset, do not equate the designation Negro with that of nuclear proliferation of the 60s and “cars that flip over” and the ilk that “went away for good reason.”  And clearly since I fully identify myself as an uppity Negro, I clearly have no problem with the use of the word.  In fact, me and my friend have actually argued that we need to go back to the word Negro.

And let me tell you why.

First of all my brother from The Grio, (which is an NBC sponsored site) David Wilson, seems to be tragically misinformed of African American history.  Without going through the process of why I choose to identify as a Black African American (un-hyphenated) or to try and debunk the myth that a white Dutch descendant born in Johannesburg qualifies for “African American” status if they were to move to the United States (or does “American” include both North and South America–just food for thought), we have as descendants of Africans in America have had to always deal with name changes.

What my brother David Wilson seems to have done is assimilated into popular culture how to view “Negro.”  First of all, Negro is a proper noun.  It’s always capitalized.  It does not have to undergo the microscopic scrutiny of PC-ness such as whether does one capitalize the “b” in black versus not capitalizing the “w” in white when describing the races.  And I think what’s really at issue is that dominant culture still associate Negro with nigra or better yet, nigger–and using that logic, well yes, Negro does seem a bit weird, passe and even offensive.

Again, what we have is a case of “common folk” dictating our national consciousness.  Not dismissing the feelings and thoughts of the persons interviewed in the Richmond Heights area of Miami in the second clip, but I’m quite sure if a news reporter stepped onto a college campus, specifically an HBCU college campus where students proudly wear t-shirts with “Uppity Negro” emblazoned on the fronts, one would have a much different reaction.  And equally as sad is that David Wilson seems to forget that he’s speaking on behalf of the entire Negro, Black, African American, Afro-American race when he made those comments concerning what “we” think.

But let the record show, Negro has never been used as a pejorative.  The simple designation of Negro removed it from being on par with other racial designations, white is not opposite Negro in the same way that white is opposite of black.  Yes, the Black Power movement made sure that the racial lines were clearly drawn as if they hadn’t been.  But when we speak of Negroes, in the pure sense, we are hearkening back to a time period that yes invokes the image of segregation and Jim Crow, but please let’s not miss the fact that using the term Negro by a Frederick Douglass or a W.E.B. DuBois was a source of pride.

Oh, but see now, the young black educated folks, the buppies, we were all raised in homes where we weren’t allowed to use the word “nigga” and it’s various derivatives.  So as opposed to saying “Those niggas from around the corner…” we changed it up and said “Those Negroes from around the corner…”  So of course when David Wilson speaks about the negative light in which black folk of this hip-hop and post hip-hop generation understand Negro, then of course it’s not in a positive light.  For the young 25 year old graduate student in the premier story written on The Grio, she was clear that she had never heard the term “Negro” used in a positive light.

She probably refer to “them niggas around the corner” as well.

Not to mention she’s tragically misinformed that this census was attempting to “separating and differentiating among races” by using Negro, and clearly the U.S. Census form equates the three together.

My poor sister.

But I can’t understand how black folk are all up in arms about being called a Negro, which is indeed a clear racial designation and does recall an era where there was a clear commitment to racial pride, and the solid faction of our community understood what it meant to be a credit to our race rather than a debit, but yet and still we can go around and call each other “nigga” and not think twice. Black folks nation wide will argue you down about their right to be able to say “nigga” and how it’s a term of endearment and blah, blah, blah, blah.

And even still in this debate we had to endure our fellow cousins weighing in.

So then I was forced to probably admit, this wasn’t just an “our generation” issue, but rather just me having to admit black folks in general have lost it.  One man was saying “when they called us Negroes…” which lets me know he has amnesia; they never called us Negroes, they were quite clear that we were niggers–probably the only word that southern racist rednecks ever fully pronounced.  Us folk used Negro to redefine ourselves from having to be called a nigra or a nigger by the other fools of the Caucasian persuasion.  Moreover, if we want to truly discuss etymology, Negro has its basis in Portuguese from the slave trade as a designate for the Africans they encountered and big shocker–”negro” means black.

Oh. Shock. Awe.

Fact: Black folks have a racial chip on their shoulder that they dare someone to knock off way too often.  It’s this type of “Negro Sensibility” that gets easily offended.  Anytime we hear another language that has some linguistic sound beginning with “neg-” to it, we perk our ears up.  Let us remember they were just simply calling us “black”–it’s a different language they were speaking and it doesn’t always have a pejorative connotation.  Moreover as R. L’Heureux Lewis, also on The Grio noted, there are more serious things to be worried about with regards to the Census rather than what we’re being called.

Because grandmama always said, “It’s not about what you’re called, but what you answer to.”

Lewis points out that:

The census currently counts prisoners in the area in which they are imprisoned rather than their home communities. The central issue is that this serves to inflate the number of residents in predominantly rural white counties, where many prisons are increasingly located. Alternatively, the home communities of prisoners receive lower than actual estimates. This situation has been discussed as a contemporary version of the Three Fifth’s Compromise utilized in the antebellum South. In 2006, it was estimated that approximately 41 percent of the adult American prison population were black. Having these members counted in their home communities could serve to increase political power and resources. This power could eventually serve to curb the pathway to prison.

Every ten years when the census rolls around there is controversy about the undercounting of communities of color, youth and the poor as well as the overcounting of the affluent. Few recognize these under and over estimations continue to empower some communities and disempower others. While there is a long-standing tension around the census and race, we owe it to ourselves to concentrate our attention on the things that will encourage political power, not political appropriateness. Now that is something worth fighting to change.

And as Rippa over at The Interesection of Madness & Reality points out, we actually have blacks, African Americans, Negroes threatening to boycott the census!?! What?! Are we not aware that this is where apportionment for congressional seats come from and that if we’re not counted certain states get more electoral college votes, let alone certain district lines are going to be gerrymandered and yet again black folk are going to get the short end of the bargain.  Moreover, at the local level states and local municipalities take the decennial census numbers when factoring in state congressional districts and city wards for city council seats–that’s why in 2007 the 1st ward of the City of Chicago elected their first white alderman since 1915 when Oscar DePriest was the cities first black alderman from the old Black Belt neighborhood of the South Side of Chicago.

I of course disagree with the whole dismissal of the African American, but that’s neither here nor there–actually, let me go there because I can–

  • My ancestry will ALWAYS be African.  If I was born in Tokyo and raised there I would an African Asian, or more specifically an African Japanese.
  • Charlize Theron, as Beck so eloquently used as an example, is European.  She will ALWAYS be European.  And moreover, for anyone that’s traveled to South Africa would know that SA is about as European as you can get of a country–the cities are highly westernize.  Theron, living in Johannesburg for instance would a European African, living here in the US she is a European American.
  • Living here in the US, I am and always will be an African American.
  • The brother from Jamaica, still has roots in Africa, he too, is an African American.

–end of tangent.

Yet again, black folks have let dominant culture inform their own cultural consciousness.  Seriously, we’re offended by “Negro” being on the census because dominant culture says we abhor the linguistic prefix of “Neg-” if you want my honest opinion.  And white folks, Beck included, are so worried about remaining PC, that they barely want to touch this one with a ten foot pole.  So, as not to come off racist, (Beck not included this time), they immediately jump the bandwagon and dismiss it.  What results is, again, this anti-intellectual approach to dealing with socio-cultural issues such as this.  We approach this topic with the critical thinking equivalent of a 2nd grader and we’re stuck spinning our wheels and never moving forward.

We are Negroes.  Get used to it!

What is your take on the general use of Negro in the first place?  How do you feel about the placement of “Negro” on the the U.S. Census?  How do you feel about the capitalization of  “Negro” or “Black?” in general?  Are black folks getting bent out of shape over this whole thing?  Should whites have even breached this subject or just let it be what it be?

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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6 responses to “I’m Proud To be an Uppity ‘Negro’ In The 2010 Census

  1. “What results is, again, this anti-intellectual approach to dealing with socio-cultural issues such as this. We approach this topic with the critical thinking equivalent of a 2nd grader and we’re stuck spinning our wheels and never moving forward.”

    There it is…

    I’ve been having this discussion on my FB page for days now and this is exactly what I expressed. But yet, niggas don’t hear me tho!

    lol

    Excellent post and breakdown, my brother.

  2. I’ve privately thought to myself before that “Negro” is the most dignified-sounding and least clumsy umbrella title for [Americans of African descent]. And of course, to myself those thoughts remained.

    Depending on how I skew my thinking, “Negro” conjures up images of oppressed people in rags or a proud dignified people united in purpose.** And I have to work harder to make the first one click mentally. So…yeah. But that’s me. Speaking for anyone else, especially for anyone outside one’s own race, puts one in Glenn Beck territory. And I don’t want to go there, so.

    About the census—-great. So some [Americans of African desecent] have decided to join the idiot TeaBaggers in boycotting the census, though for different reasons. Wonderful. How much stupid can there possibly be to pass around? There is WAY too much sharing going on. Why hasn’t the Surgeon General issued a warning yet?

    **For me, [the n-word] conjures up a sneering, frecklefaced white boy with jug ears snickering to himself as he spits the word out. Search me. Maybe it was a movie I saw once.

    • @ Marbles

      Interesting to say “Americans of African descent.”

      I always tend to say “descendant of Africans in America” simply because at times we’re not always afforded the privileges of being native born Americans.

      • “Descendents of Africans in America” is probably the closest thing to airtight it’s possible to get.

        Incidentally, columnist Leonard Pitts often refers to “African America.” He’s the only one I’ve happened to see use that. Can’t be the only one, period, though.

  3. Wonderful break down. When I first got wind that “we” were upset about Negro being added to the census, I sort of held my breath waiting for the part of the story that would make me angry, or sad, or something. But the story started and ended with… they added Negro to the classification for black people.

    (blank stare) Okay, and?

    I thought I was the only person who simply did not have a problem with the addition. I refer to myself as black, african-american, negro… interchangeably. I do not have a problem with the word and it doesn’t make me feel stripped of anything at all. All of the political correctness of this term and that is just useless posturing which amounts to nothing. Eh. So what?

    I am an uppity negro and if I’m not now, I certainly aspire to be.

  4. 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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