The Army is receiving criticism because the term “Negro” is still used in its regulations. Section 6-2 of the Army’s AR 600–20 regulations states that the word “Negro” is permitted for “a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.”
That clause, stated as part of the Army’s equal opportunity policy, also condones the use of the word “Haitian.”
Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, an army spokesman, said Wednesday, “The racial definitions in AR600-20… are outdated, currently under review, and will be updated shortly… The Army takes pride in sustaining a culture where all personnel are treated with dignity and respect and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.”
South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott, who is black, asserted that he would inquire about the policy. One military officer said that using the word “Negro” was “the dumbest thing I have ever heard.” One source stated that no data collected by Pentagon officials for military and personnel purposes used the term as a means of classification.
Bishop Leon McClain, a black veteran with 21 years of service, including Vietnam, said he was classified as a “Negro” in 1954, adding, “Didn’t bother me then, doesn’t bother me now. I wasn’t always treated with respect, but you got to look forward, not back, and you can’t pay ignorance any mind. If Martin Luther King associated himself with the Negro race, it’s all right with me. But we’re not going back to working in any cotton fields, I can tell you that.”
The U.S. Census Bureau still uses “Negro” on its forms; it also uses the terms “black” and “African-American.” Census officials reason that some black Americans still self-identify as Negroes.
Defense Power Research attests that 21% of active-duty members of the Army are black.