U.S. Army Finally Catches Up with the 21st Century on the Word ‘Negro’


(Source: REUTERS/U.S. Army/Sgt. Seandale Jackson)

The U.S. Armed Forces employs some of the bravest men and women in the world. Don’t believe us? You take your gun to a country whose name no one can pronounce.

While most of America applauds those heroes daily, the PRNewserverse needs to call one branch out for not being too terribly with it on the domestic perception front — the U.S. Army.

Late last week, a published Army regulation held that superiors could use the word “Negro” to refer to “black or African-American” personnel.

And then the 1960s (or even the 1860s) called wanting its non-complementary sociological term back.

uncfSide note: one of the proudest periods in my career was the three years I spent representing the UNCF. From Hurricane Katrina to national fundraising, it was an honor to stand side-by-side with CEO Dr. Michael Lomax to help create awareness for this important organization.

For those not in the know, the acronym stands for “United Negro College Fund,” and in 2008 the organization went with the acronym alone because it was time. I was there then, too. Today, however, you can’t help but wish that the U.S. Army public affairs office were more up-to-date.

“We want to hold on to our heritage, but we also want to find a way to say who we are that speaks directly and positively to a younger generation,” Mr. Lomax said (to The New York Times). “I think we’ve found a happy medium.”

Someone in the U.S. Army could have learned from the example of the UNCF, NAACP, or even the AARP, because these orgs know that using the word “negro” in 2014 is not a good look…unless one wants to appeal to octogenarian rednecks sitting on their porches wrapped in Stars and Bars throw blankets.

They finally fixed it. Sure, it came a few decades late, but they’re a public entity so we’ll let that pass.

“The U.S. Army fully recognized, and promptly acted, to remove outdated language in Army Regulation 600-20 as soon as it was brought to our attention,” said Lt. Col. Alayne Conway, an Army spokeswoman, in a statement Thursday. “The Army takes pride in sustaining a culture where all personnel are treated with dignity and respect…We apologize to anyone we offended.”

That anyone would be 20 percent of your entire enlisted rank-and-file. A good PR pro might start there.