African American - Terminology - Terms No Longer in Common Use

Terms No Longer in Common Use

The terms mulatto and colored were widely used until the second quarter of the 20th century, when they were considered outmoded and generally gave way to the use of negro. By the 1940s, the term commonly was capitalized, Negro, but by the mid-1960s it was considered disparaging. By the end of the twentieth century "Negro" had come to be considered inappropriate and was rarely used and perceived as a pejorative. The term is rarely used by younger black people, but remained in use by many older black Americans who had grown up with the term, particularly in the southern U.S.

The word negro is the Spanish and Portuguese word for the color black. In regions such as Latin America where these languages are spoken, negro (pronounced slightly differently than Negro in English), is a normal word used without disparaging intent in relation to black people.

There are many other deliberately insulting terms. Many were in common use, but had become unacceptable in normal discourse before the end of the twentieth century.

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