Tags: negro | race | juror | form

New Yorker Stunned that 'Negro' Still Used Officially as Race Category

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 09:21 AM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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New York City's juror information cards still contain the word "negro," which one potential juror said is outdated and offensive.

"Yes, I identify as black or African-American, but I am not a negro," 25-year-old teacher Raeana Roberson told CNN.

Roberson discovered the race category on juror information cards when she reported for jury selection last week. The juror card she was given included "Black, African-American, or Negro" as one choice under race.

Roberson told CNN that nobody else appeared to be concerned, so she crossed out the word "Negro" and wrote next to it "offensive! It's 2014!" before taking a picture of the form and posting it her Facebook page.

Roberson also said she returned the form to a court employee, who offered no reaction to her concern. Roberson said her grandparents lived through racial segregation and that she is offended by the use of the word, which she described as outdated and negative.

Jeffrey Sammons, a professor of history at New York University, said he does not believe the continued use of the word "negro" is malicious, even though it is no longer used by younger people. But he said, "I believe there are many black people who still prefer that term. It is a generational issue."

Arlene Hackel, a spokeswoman for the New York State Office of Court Administration, said the race category descriptions come from the U.S. Census Bureau. But in 2010, Robert Groves, who was then the director of the U.S. Census Bureau, said many respondents to the census that year found the word outdated and offensive.

As a result, the bureau has recommended that the word be removed from all government forms, effective this year, and Hackel said New York courts plan to do exactly that, although she said court officials have not heard from anybody else, other than Roberson, claiming to have been offended by the use of the word.

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