Sunday, January 10, 2010

2010 Census controversy

* Description: "Colored Waiting Room&quot...Image via Wikipedia
The U.S. Census Bureau on Friday announced it would explore eliminating the term "Negro" from future surveys, responding to an emotional outcry and passionate debate which questions why our government still asks Americans if they identify with a term that many consider outdated, obsolete and racist.
"My first reaction was that we take two steps forward to take one step back," said Rick Callender, former president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP.  "African-Americans in this country have not referred to themselves as Negro since the 1950's."
Question 9 on the census, referring to a person's race, lists one of the options: "Black, African Am., or Negro."  The controversy started early this week as the Census Bureau started its road tour in New York.
"I wouldn't say it offends me, but it makes me feel uncomfortable," said Austin Jackson, a 16-year old Fremont student serving as president of the NAACP Youth Council in Alameda County.  "It's unfortunate they would use such a clearly outdated term."
Sonny Le, a regional spokesman for the Census Bureau, said the term "Negro" has been on the survey for at least 100 years, and that the form is thoroughly analyzed and reviewed by different offices and advisory groups before being finalized.
Le also aid the decision to keep the term on the form was due to some older African-Americans who still identify themselves by it.  In fact, the 2000 census included more than 50,000 people who wrote down explicitly that they identified themselves as "Negro" in a section offered to provide additional information.
"At the same time, I think it's a good time for everybody to have this conversation now," said Le.  "The census is an evolving process that's supposed to reflect our country.  If enough prople don't want the term used, we should revisit whether or not it belongs."
Callender questions the argument about older African-Americans still identifying themselves as "Negro" saying, "I'd like to know just who those African-American's are."  He says his late grandmother in her 80's, never used the term, nor does his mother in her 60's.
Today the Census Bureau stated that it will gather research from the 2010 census to analyze the effects of removing the term "Negro" on future surveys, and on the 2020 census.
David Glover, Executive Director of Oakland Citizens Committee for Urban Renewal expects the term will turn-off many African-Americans, and may thwart their attempts to improve participation in the once-a-decade count.  Glover adds that he will tell as many as he can to "go ahead and be counted, because that's the most important thing."
Meanwhile, young Jackson concluded that, "this is a good discussion to have, but honestly....there are more important things going on in the world right now."
Being Caucasion, this writer can in no way properly relate to this controversy,  except to say memories of the outdated term come from old movies, books, newsreels and an intense, personal study of perhaps the greatest league of American baseball players in history--who had to wait until 1947 to properly display their GLOBAL dominance!
The "Term" may have been ok then, but this is now!  The U.S. Census Bureau should adjust accordingly, and exclude it.
Thanks,  PeteCam4

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