Is “Negro” our word? (J. A. Rogers)

Listen Siblings, I come in peace,

“”Black” and “colored” on the other hand, have no historic meaning whatever for African peoples.” — J. A. Rogers

In today’s article we discuss the word “Negro.” Though, I admit, there’s more to this then meets the eye. That’s discussed here: What was our name?  Halasiou  — “Nominal Debate”.  Please enjoy, and promote the organization of African people, the African Blood Siblings!  And commit to building an African Blood Siblings Community Center so as to reconnect our people.  Write for more information.  Subscribe, share, love.

“Amazing Fact 91” an excerpt from “100 Amazing Facts about the Negro” by J. A. Rogers


The most ancient names for so-called black people are Nehesu, or Nubian; Ethiopian, and Moor from Ancient Egypt, and Negro or Nigrita from West Africa. All the above are native African words. “Negro” is probably the oldest as the Negritos are the oldest known branch of the human race. “Negro” comes from the River Niger. “Niger” found its way into Latin and since the people from that region were dark-skinned, Niger, nigra, nigrum came to mean black. Negro, Negrito, Nigrita, means “the people of the great river.” Black and colored, like white, are, on the other hand, European words. Ethiopian and Moor were popularly used to describe the so-called blacks until 1500. Shakespeare uses “Negro” only once and uses it synonymously with Moor. Africa comes from the ancient Egyptian “”Af-rui-ka,” or Kafrica, the land of the Kaffir.


For the history of the word, “Niger” and “Nigritia” from which “Negro” comes, see Sir William Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, Vol. II, p. 429, as well as pp. 296-7. Also Journal Royal Soc., Vol. II, pp. 1-28 (1832) by W. M. Leake, who says with regard to the African origin of “Niger,” “More than one celebrated writer have fallen into the error of supposing ‘Niger,’ a Latin word.” Also Sir Rufus Donkine, “The Niger,” pp. 16, 144; and Gerald Massey, “A Book of the Beginnings,” Vol. III, p. 610. For the origin of “Ethiopia,” see Vol. I, p. 36 of the latter work.

“Black” and “colored” on the other hand, have no historic meaning whatever for African peoples.
Black, from the Anglo-Saxon, blaec, has most horrible meanings. See any large dictionary. “Colored” is related to the Latin, celare, to conceal, to color up, to paint a thing other than in its true light. Thus the tendency to decry “Negro” on the ground that it means “slavery” is sheer ignorance. For instance, a Negro newspaper took a poll of its readers some years ago and they chose “colored.” But the jim-crow car, that greatest degrader of American citizenship is usually marked “colored.” The majority of this paper’s circulation is in the South. Did they choose “colored” so as to be in line with the jim-crow policy? Still another paper used “race-man” which makes the uninitiated think of the race-track. Another very racial group, chooses “black” which, as was said, is positively a white man’s word.

Of course, there is only one race–the human race. But of all the names used by the stronger group in America to set the dark-skinned citizen apart, Negro is the least objectionable. Not only is it very ancient but it has a record in America of four centuries of fortitude, endurance, and survival power, rare in the annals of mankind. “Negro” is making a splendid progress towards prestige in such terms as Negro spirituals, Negro boxer, Negro music, Negro athlete, Negro soldier, Negro loyalty.

There is not a single noted name that was not once used in contempt or is still even so used in parts of the world. Christian, Anglo-Saxon, Scotch, Irish, English, American, Yankee, all were once very much looked down on.

Shakespeare’s use of Negro deals with miscegenation. Merchant of Venice, III, v. 42.

I have dealt more at length on this subject in an article called, “What Shall We Call Ourselves?”

Having heard objections regarding the word “Negro” in the U.N.I.A. and A.C.L.’s name; I post this in response. Not coincidentally, the U.N.I.A. and A.C.L. presents the same response (


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8 thoughts on “Is “Negro” our word? (J. A. Rogers)

    1. It’s not sad. The European is doing what the European finds ethical: maintaining dominance. What’s sad is that we do not recognize that Europeans conceive the maintenance of dominance as ethical.

      1. Brother-King,

        Everyone finds himself in the world where he belongs. The essential thing is to have a fixed point from which to check its reality now and then..

        You are on this Earth at this time for a particular reason. Rather than asking “Where,” you should be asking “How.” You’re an able, intelligent, well-read African. Why is it that you ask “Where” if you are for Self-Determination and for Resisting Oppression?

      2. I dunno. I speak to people a lot and they see any mention of “european” or “white” as “generalising.” They really cannot see it. I have few answers, if any.

      3. King,

        A person who knows not
        And knows that they know not
        Is simple–teach them

        In my meeting here in Brooklyn a Brother and I got to discussing the possibility of teaching his younger Brother. In understanding the difficulties of educating a relation, I recited the above poem in its entirety. However this particular passage struck me. The art of teaching is first to make a person know that he does not know. I.e. before you generalize on Europeans and Whites which he does not know he does not know about; let him first know that he does not know about Europeans and Whites. Then the generalizations can come.

        For instance, prior to my Original Knowledge I had Occidental Knowledge. Three aspects of Occidental Knowledge point you into the Nature of Occidentals. One comes from St. Augustine. He remarks that a Pirate and an Emperor are two of the same. Another thinker is Wittingstein, he makes the all-important statement that “At the core of all well-founded belief, lies belief that is unfounded.” Finally, though there are many, there’s the statement that if unattended an abandoned wallet would be a stolen wallet. While being passed off as general they are specific to the European ethos. The first tells you that inherently the European is a Pirate; the second, he’s obsessed with Myth; and the third is he’s intrinsically without virtue. These are statements made by the greatest European minds. Yet none of these statements are paralleled in Original Knowledge. In this context, the proverb on how to destroy a tree is potent:

        “The seed cannot sprout upwards without simultaneously sending roots into the ground.”

        If one is learned in Occidentalism, show them that, that learning leads to nothing. Only after showing that they do not Know can you teach them Originalism.

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