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Use of "Negro" on census forms stuns local residents

By By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Some Black central New Yorkers were not pleased when they opened their 2010 U.S. Census forms and saw how their government referred to them.

"The first thing that popped into my head was, 'I'm not negro', and I was shocked and I felt very offended," said Nicole Phillips of Utica.

The race section of the census form offers the following choices: Black, African American and Negro.

Local Census Spokesperson Kitty Cowan says there is a reason the word appears on the form.

"2000 census data shows that 56,175 respondents self-identified with the term," says Cowan.

However, that does not mean the word "Negro" is a permanent fixture on future census forms. Cowan says there is testing being done in the 2010 census to show how response would be affected by dropping the term from future forms.

Utica-Oneida County NAACP President Sam Jones says use of the word "Negro" on the 2010 U.S. Census form didn't offend him personally, but he can see why others might be bothered.

"A lot of people look at it where having the word 'negro' is similar to the other word," Jones said.

Phillips is learning she is not the only person to find the word offensive. More than 50 of her neighbors so far have signed a petition to have, "Negro" removed from future census forms.

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