U.S. Army: 'Negro' an acceptable term for soldiers

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

The U.S. Army has published a regulation stipulating that it is acceptable to refer to an African-American service member as a “Negro.” Army spokesman Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt, however, indicated that the term was taken from an outdated portion of the regulation. The AR 600-20 regulation, is updated from time-to-time, but the Army could not indicate when the word found its way into the document, according to CNN.

Platt said, “The racial definitions in AR600-20 para. 6-2 are outdated, currently under review, and will be updated shortly.” He also added that “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.”

Another officer indicated that deeming the term acceptable was “the dumbest thing I have ever heard.”

The race and ethnic code definitions section of the document also indicates that the term “Haitian” is acceptable as well. An Army official indicated that “Negro” might still be on the books for those black service members who wish to identify themselves using the term.

The U.S. Census Bureau also still allows citizens to self-report as Negro on official census forms.

While some news outlets and individuals expressed outrage, others weren’t bothered. Veteran Bishop Leon McLain was registered as a “Negro” when he fought in Vietnam, and he says that, “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.”

McLain also told the NY Daily News that, “If Martin Luther King associated himself with the Negro race, it’s all right with me.”