Why Were Black People Called Negros

Written by   (author of Obvious Conclusions)  |  Date Updated: February 15, 2020

black-people-negro-word-usageI came across a question today that many people ask:  “Why were black people called negros?”  I am going to research the history of this term, but my guess is that the term comes from the Spanish word for black, which is negro.

It turns out that the term negro actually originated with the Portuguese (whose language is very similar to Spanish).  Around 1442,  the Portuguese were trying to find a sea-route to India and discovered sub-Saharan Africa in the process.  There, they discovered black people and referred to them as negro, their word for the color black.

At the time, this word had no derogatory intention.  However, during the Civil Rights movement of the 70’s, this term became associated with the oppression of black people and its use diminished.  Unless referring to events of history, liked the Negro Baseball Leagues, the term Negro was not used.  The politically correct terms became Black or African American.

The term negro is still frequently used in non-English speaking countries.  They use the term negro to refer to a black person just as they would use the term rubia to refer to a blonde-haired women.

The Term Negro:  Other Links and Notes

When searching the Internet for related terms, one sees immediately the intense debate surrounding this word and its derivatives.  I have included some of these sources below:

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Richard Cummings

Richard Cummings is a writer, traveler, and web content developer.

Get your copy of his latest book entitled Obvious Conclusions, stories of a Midwestern emigrant influenced and corrupted by many years living in San Francisco and abroad. It just received its first outstanding review "...reminiscent of David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs" on Amazon UK.
Richard Cummings
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Richard CummingsWhy Were Black People Called Negros

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