When the census listed Negro as a race option in 2010, a controversy erupted. My students at the University of Michigan were eager to denounce the term’s use: “Negro? It has to go!” To their ears, “Negro” was derogatory, too close in tone to the other, more infamous n-word. I played devil’s advocate, to test their thinking: “But some black elders still self-identify as Negroes.” “It’s preferable to its predecessor, colored.”
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