The Pentagon is enamored in a backlash for the addition of a word that was commonly used during the Jim Crow and Civil Rights era. A new document surfaced that reveals the U.S. Army approved the use of the word “Negro” when describing a person of color: black or African American soldiers and personnel. However, officials are split over when the outdated race-classification term that is now OK to use.
The recently-published U.S. Army regulation, known as AR 600-20, says it’s OK to use negro as an ethnicity alternative. Although this official regulation is routinely updated, Army officials are at a loss about when the amendment was approved to include the use of the word.
Under the category “Black or African American” in the section on “race and ethnic code designations,” Army staff who self-identify as a person of color in the aforementioned ethnicity, can be referred to as “Negro” or “Haitian.” The branch collects data on its staff’s demographic makeup for regulatory compliance with the EEOC in order to lessen or prevent discriminatory practices. However, it’s unknown how the approval for designation of a word, given its history, supports the Army’s zero-tolerance policy of racial bias. And according to two officials within the Army, the opinions of the word’s resurgence are mixed.
On the one hand, an Army official close to the developments said the word negro word was likely given the OK to assist members in self-reporting, and provide them with a more accurate representation of their ethnicity when completing forms. On the contrary, another slammed that assertion and called it the “dumbest thing” they’ve ever heard. Furthermore, the second official said nowhere in current Pentagon documentation does it show the use or presence of the negro word for race classification.
— Jemie Lee 13News (@13JemieLee) November 6, 2014
Army spokesperson Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt weighed in on the Army’s OK of negro in its documents. In his opinion, the practice is outdated, but an investigation is underway about the approval process on why the word was deemed OK to use.
“The racial definitions in AR600-20 para. 6-2 are outdated, currently under review, and will be updated shortly. The Army takes pride in sustaining a culture where all personnel are treated with dignity and respect and not discriminated against based on race, color, religion, gender and national origin.”
Social media users weighed in on the developments of the alleged new command policy in the Army. One person raised an important point to consider.
What are your thoughts about CNN’s coverage on this story? Was it OK for the Army to change its policy regarding the accepted use of negro in its internal race designations?
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