Census to Test Removing the Term "Negro" from Form

News that the U.S. Census Bureau was allowing people to identify themselves as "Negro" on 2010 Census forms generated anger this week from people who say the term is offensive.

Now the Census Bureau says it is embedding a test in the 2010 Census that "will measure the effect of removing the term 'Negro' on reports about a person's racial identity." The test will be used to inform changes to the 2020 Census and other future surveys.

In a section asking people to describe themselves, the 2010 Census form includes a box that can be checked next to the words "negro," "African American" and "black."

In a press release Friday, the Census Bureau noted that "In the 2000 Census, more than 50,000 persons chose to write down explicitly that they identified themselves as 'Negro.'" That did not include the people who checked the box "Black, African Am., or Negro."

The bureau has said it had decided to include "Negro" as an option because a number of older African-Americans self-identify as such, and it wanted to make sure they were counted.

But many complained that "Negro" is an outdated and derogatory term.

"The fact that it's 2010 and they're still putting 'negro,' I am a little offended," Secaucus, N.J., resident Dawud Ingram told WCBS-TV. "African Americans haven't been going by the term 'negro' for decades now. It's really confusing."

A Census public information officer told USA Today that the term has been on Census forms since at least 1950.