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Racial Term Draws Offense in Florida District


Parents and students in Broward County, Fla., were angered when a district form, sent out to collect information on race and ethnicity, included the term "negro" as a descriptor for African-Americans.

Officials in the big South Florida district sent out a revised form last week, but it wasn't enough to quell the outrage. One student organized a petition drive, according to a story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The article says the loaded term was put in a student code of conduct book, which also listed "black," and "African-American" as acceptable descriptions.

What's interesting is the district's explanation for the mishap. The district says it was collecting racial data using new categories provided by Florida's state department of education. The state, in turn, says that it was using guidance for the racial descriptions provided by the federal Office of Management and Budget. It could be that the district and state were collecting this data as part of a complex, and much-debated new set of federal guidelines, aimed at bringing more precision to counts of race/ethnicity, particularly when it comes to multiracial students. But unless I'm missing something here, that doesn't really explain the use of the outdated term.


It's a step up from what they used to call us in Broward County.

There seems to me to be a degree of insanity here. There was a time when "colored" was the polite term. That was superseded by "Negro." Neither is now in common use. . . except that the expression "people of color" is not only acceptable, but in generally use among people who fancy themselves to be politically correct. The NAACP has not seen fit to remove the word "Colored" from its name. Similarly, the United Negro College Fund is still that, not something else. Why are these uses acceptable, but having "Negro" as one acceptable way to indicate "race" (the whole concept of which is, to my mind, far more dangerous and offensive than this trivial concerns about diction) on forms is a huge issue? It seems to me there are far more serious issues regarding matters amongst people of varying ethnicities than this one. As the previous poster stated, this word is an improvement over many alternatives.

Fashion in language changes, but some words that were never viewed as offensive may linger in the lexicon even if they are no longer common. Getting bent out of shape over this example seems petty and an enormous waste of time, energy, and resources.

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