Is the word "Negro" offensive?

And if so, why? Is it because this term is outdated? I told my wife that while we don’t usually say it today, it isn’t really offensive in meaning. Am I right?

I think that it would depend on the context and who says it. In casual use, something like “…sounds like an old Negro spiritual…” probably wouldn’t be considered offensive, but “…I was talking to a Negro man yesterday…” would likely not be appropriate.

Yes, it’s outdated, and it probably has something to do with the fact that a derivative of the word is highly offensive.

Like many words, it isn’t in itself offensive - but it has deep-rooted unpleasant and divisive associations. Rather like Oriental, Paki, etc.

Is Nigger derived from Negro? Forgive my ignorance. I thought the word “nigger” meant “lazy person” and was separate from “Negro”.

Wordorigins says that the two terms share a common root - the latin word for black (niger). The term Negro goes back to 1555, but nigger only makes an appearence in 1786.

Is the word “Blanco” offensive?


Has anyone ever called someone a Blanco, with the intent of separating them out as a separate class of human?

Hell, man, what ethnic/national/racial/religious/group identity term DOESN’T separate people into seperate segments of humans? The whole point of referring to someone as a Russian, Jew, a Hispanic or a Freemason is to distinguish them from other people who don’t share that classification.

I was just joking about the Blanco thing, at any rate.

Separate segments and separate classes are two different things. And forgive my failure to realize it was a joke.

It becomes offensive when someone subs in the term “Negro” or “Mexican” when “guy” or “lady” would be equally appropriate.

As in, “could someone give that Mexican over there a hand?” instead of “could someone give that gentleman over there a hand?”

Alright, would the it be offensive if this context:

“So Dan, james and Jessie all went to a rock concert yesterday. I called to see if you wanted to come, but you weren’t home. In any case Jessie stiffed me on the gas money she promised on the way back.”

“Hmm…that sucks…tell, who is James again?”

“James is the negro, wears glasses.”

Now, I think most people wouldn’t find the term “black guy” offensive. Would it ae acceptable to replace “black guy” with “negro”?

I think that, in that example, the issue is that the term is waaaaay out of date and sounds strange. People can’t imagine why you’d use it, have only heard it used in movies about Southern racism, ergo… bad connection. That’s the legitimate opinion of this 20-something, anyway.

It’s still The United Negro College Fund.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream:

Malcolm X, God’s Judgement of White America:

I’m not black so it seems to me that it matters less how I feel about the word than those it has been used to decribe. I’ve always thought most black people don’t care for it in common usage and that’s good enough for me.

Why use a word that has the potential to hurt someone else? Or make them uncomfortable? Too many words available to most of us for that to fly. IMHO, YMMV and all that…

Everything depends on context and attitude, obviously, but I’d imagine most black people would be more amazed, saddened or bemused someone still used “Negro” as a contemporary racial descriptor than actually offended by the term.

Also people over 80 get a free pass from me with this sort of thing. Even though they no doubt came of age when the descriptors began to change, you never know what decade a stroke will have you living in.

Maya Angelou:

Bill Cosby:

James Baldwin:
[quoteIt is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story.[/quote]

I think Askia has it. The term itself was once considered the polite one to use…but that was decades ago. Some people might, upon hearing the word “Negro” in conversation, wonder if the speaker’s ideas about race relations are also decades behind the times. This is a situation best avoided…unless one actually does believe that some of “those people” are perfectly nice and nothing against them, but that’s no reason to go integrating the schools or anything.

I think there’s also the possibility that listeners might mistake the now-uncommon word “Negro” for the similar-sounding other “n-word”, which is unfortunately not quite as uncommon. This is a situation it would be even better to avoid.

For the most part though, I think"Negro" is just horribly dated. Even if no offense is taken by anyone, using it in normal conversation is going to make you sound rather like Mr. Burns demanding that the post office deliver his letter to the Prussian consulate in Siam by autogyro.

Of course, if you’re speaking Spanish then that’s a whole 'nuther ball game.

Quoting two guys with 75 years of coffin-life between them hardly is a good way to argue that it’s not an outdated term.

Talk about dated…I recall one farm-boy on my rugby team remarking that he had a “colored stepfather.” That got a laugh from everyone around, but the guy in question didn’t see what was funny about it. That was just the way he talked…

If you were filling up a car that had a carburetor and a distributor and points, and the gas cost 39.9 cents, and they washed your window and checked your oil, then it probably would not be offensive.