Racial Terms in the Study
Anyone who has worked in diplomatic or anthropological circles knows that racial terminology is a very sensitive topic. As an example, working with Native-American tribes showed Larry Roeder that some members called themselves: Indians, Native-Americans or by their tribe, e.g. Navajo or Diné. He also worked extensively with Bedouin tribes in Egypt and they prefer to be called Bedouin or al-‘Arab, not Egyptian. When racial terms like Black, Negro, Colored, Mulatto, etc. are used in this study, they come from the sources of information. That’s the context.
When we speak in our own voice, we use the term African-American. That decision came after a discussion with Pastor Lawson of Prosperity Baptist Church; it was agreed that during Roeder’s research on Conklin Village, he would use the term African-American when speaking in his own voice of people descendant from African immigrants (whether they were or were not in bondage), even though census and county records often referred to people as colored, Negro or mulatto. Contemporary interviewees might say Black, Negro or Colored. In those instances, we use the term proposed by the source. A good example would be “colored school,” which was the standard term for segregated schools that serviced African-Americans. Segregated units in the US Army were also known as Colored.
No term is universally used by the world, so readers are asked to understand that our efforts is intended to honor people and never offend, while being historically correct.
Written by Larry W. Roeder, Jr., MS Principal Investigator