So much for a “post-racial” world.
When Raeana Roberson, a 25-year-old teacher in New York City, showed up for jury duty on Monday and was asked to identify herself on a prospective juror form, she was surprised to see that the Queens County courthouse wasn’t aware that it was 2014.
On the form, Roberson had three choices to choose from — “Black, African American or Negro.” Needless to say, she was shocked.
“Is this an old form?” she said she thought to herself. “From the 1950s?”
“I felt shocked and upset and totally disrespected,” Roberson said.
She crossed out the word “Negro,” replacing it with “offensive! it’s 2014,” and brought it to the attention of a court employee (also black) who could have cared less about the term. According to Roberson, the employee, nor the 300 prospective jurors in the room that day, reacted.
She snapped a photo of the form (above) and posted to Facebook with the caption, “REALLY? ‘Negro’ … that I am not. Hello 2014? … jury duty..”
Roberson said the word stirs memories of segregation. “My grandfather is from South Carolina. He grew up in the Jim Crow South,” she said. The history of “Negro,” and the context in which the word has been used in the past, makes it offensive,” she said.
In a phone interview with Samuel Roberts, a Columbia University associate professor of history, he told the Huffington Post that the word has gone out of date.
“I would probably say it’s an oversight. I don’t think it was meant to be an offense, per say,” said Roberts. “If a white person wanted to insult you in 1965, they had a much wider variety of choices to pick besides ‘Negro.’
In fact, the word “Negro” isn’t just on Queens County courthouse documents. It appears on documents all over New York.
Arlene Hackel, spokeswoman for the New York State office of court administration, explained that the race classification categories come from the U.S. Census Bureau.
“We don’t have expertise in classification, so we follow their language, their classification, which is explained on the information card,” Hackel said in a phone interview with The Huffington Post.
Several news outlets reported last year that the Census Bureau would officially drop the term in 2014, and Americans would first see the change in an annual American Community Survey released by the Census Bureau to 3.5 million households.
New York, obviously, hasn’t made that change. But thankfully, they didn’t pull a TMZ. Or list “slave” as an occupation…which totally happened in November 2013.
SOURCE: Huffington Post | PHOTO CREDIT: Raeana Roberson
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