Monday, January 18, 2010

Thoughts on MLK Day

These thoughts are not actually about the day itself, but thoughts I have that happen to be taking place on this day.

A few days ago our local paper carried an article about the United States Census Bureau -- particularly how one attempt to be inclusive backfired on them. To give inclusive choices to black Americans to identify themselves, the 2010 Census offers "Black", "African-American" and "Negro".

Some politicians, activists and community leaders have objected to the use of the word "Negro" on the 2010 census and want the bureau to scrap the forms and issue new ones -- in spite of its approval by the African-American Advisory Committee and the fact that over 55,000 persons wrote in "Negro" on the 2000 census. Though Quanell X, a Houston TX activist, says, "We have evolved beyond the word 'Negro'," it is clear we have not -- neither the census bureau nor thousands of black Americans.

I think it is a good thing to identify people by a term that is not offensive to them. But the problem is that quite a few black Americans self-identify as "Negro" and apparently prefer the term. What about their opinions? A retired highly-respected local educator whom I have known for many years recently wrote, "I am an American Negro and not an African-American." I think his view should be respected as well as Quanell X's.

While on the general subject, Russell Moore's Why King’s Dream Overcame “Christian” White Supremacy is quite interesting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I can barely recall an elderly black man in my youth who was proud to be referred to as Negro. In fact, he insisted on it.

I was in conversation with a friend recently. The topic of race came up. Then he related a conversation he had with an older black man a few years ago. The man was saddened because he felt the whole "civil rights" movement was slowly destroying the unique culture of the black race. He believed it was becoming homogenized just like about everything else. We might be surprised at how many other blacks feel the same way. I'm sure it be predominately the older citizens. I believe so much of this goes back to the good old electronic press and media. Some just have to stir things up just for the sake of being heard. Just a side thought regarding the name issue. I am sure you have noticed the race section of any form, application, etc that must be filled in. I have seen instances where next to the box by "White," it will sometimes have in parentheses "Anglo Saxon." I've never heard of anyone getting upset over that. It wasn't all that long ago that it was perfectly acceptable to use the term "American Indian." Of course now that has all but been replaced by "Native American." That is somewhat a misnomer because there really is no such thing as a "native" American.

A thought comes to mind when reading Mr. Moore's article. I believe it was about 15 years ago or so when the SBC wanted to make amends with African Americans. They made an official proclamation where they apologized for slavery and other race issues in the 1800's. Friends and neighbors, would you apologize for something you did not do? Apologize for something which happened long before you were born? Later on it became evident that financial support was at the core. This was when an uprising was taking place with the Southern Baptist Convention. There were and are a number of black congregations which are apart of the SBC. The leaders thought that would be the best way to ensure their continued support, even though there was in actuality nothing to aplogize for.