The Dillard Doctrine

Urban Conservative Commentary on Politics & Life

When We Were Negroes

My friend Winsome Sears sent this over to me…definitely food for thought.


by Charles E. Richardson

Posted on Sun, Jul. 31, 2011 in the Macon Telegraph

There was a time until the early 1960s when the terms to describe those of African decent, like me — African-American or Black or Afro-American — were almost unheard of. I remember a distinct conversation with a friend discussing descriptive terms for ourselves in 1963 or ’64. The term “black” was just coming into vogue and he didn’t like it one bit. “Call me a Negro,” he said, “but don’t call me black.”

Now, the word “Negro” (publications used a lower case “n”) has almost become a pejorative, so I was a little surprised when my pastor, the Rev. Willie Reid, used it during Thursday’s revival. “Back when we were Negroes,” he said, and listed several things that were different about black life in America back then.

That got me to thinking. Back when we were Negroes in the 1950s, “only 9 percent of black families with children were headed by a single parent,” according to “The Black Family: 40 Years of Lies” by Kay Hymowitz. “Black children had a 52 percent chance of living with both their biological parents until age 17. In 1959, “only 2 percent of black children were reared in households in which the mother never married.” But now that we’re African-Americans, according to Hymowitz, those odds of living with both parents had “dwindled to a mere 6 percent” by the mid-1980s. And check this, in Bibb County, more than 70 percent of the births in the African-American community are to single mothers.

Back when we were Negroes and still fighting in many parts of the country for the right to vote, we couldn’t wait for the polls to open. We knew our friends, family and acquaintances had died getting us the ballot. Dogs and fire hoses were used to keep us away and still we came. But now that we’re African-Americans, in a city of 47,000 registered — predominately black voters — more than 30,000 didn’t show up at the polls July 19.

Back when we were Negroes, we had names like Joshua, Aaron, Paul, Esther, Melba, Cynthia and Ida. Now that we are African Americans, our names are bastardized versions of alcohol from Chivas to Tequila to C(S)hardonney. And chances the names have an unusual spelling.

Back when we were Negroes, according to the Trust For America’s Health’s “F as in Fat,” report, “only four states had diabetes rates above 6 percent. … The hypertension rates in 37 states about 20 years ago were more than 20 percent.” Now that we’re African-Americans, that report shows, “every state has a hypertension rate of more than 20 percent, with nine more than 30 percent. Forty-three states have diabetes rates of more than 7 percent, and 32 have rates above 8 percent. Adult obesity rates for blacks topped 40 percent in 15 states, 35 percent in 35 states and 30 percent in 42 states and Washington, D.C.

Back when we were Negroes, the one-room church was the community center that everyone used. Now that we’re African-Americans, our churches have lavish — compared to back-in-the-day churches — community centers that usually sit empty because the last thing the new church wants to do is invite the community in.

Back when we were Negroes, we didn’t have to be convinced that education was the key that opened the lock of success, but now that we’re African-Americans, more than 50 percent of our children fail to graduate high school. In Bibb County last year, the system had a dropout rate of 53.4 percent.

Back when we were Negroes, the last thing a young woman wanted to look like was a harlot and a young man a thug, but now that we’re African-Americans, many of our young girls dress like hootchie mamas and our young boys imitate penitentiary custom and wear their pants below the butt line.

If I could reverse all of the above by trading the term “African-American” for “Negro,” what do you think I’d do?


Written by Coby Dillard

September 5, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Posted in Editorials

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7 Responses

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  1. Your article is very disturbing, and sad.

    You might also check the literacy rate. I work in the public school system, and it is heartbreaking to see the number of children who can’t read on grade level, and in some cases, can’t read at all. I have no idea what the percentages of white vs. black are; I just know I see a lot of children who struggle with reading.


    September 5, 2011 at 3:36 pm

  2. Don’t have statistics readily available, but I’ve seen studies on a huge literacy gap between black students (specifically black male students) in the 8th grade and white students.

    Coby Dillard

    September 5, 2011 at 3:47 pm

  3. Yes and it’s all about nomenclature.

    The fact that you think that this is unrelated to our discussion of Labor Day over on my page is the saddest part of this whole article. Almost as sad as the fact that you seem to blame the unfinished Civil Rights Movement for the decline of Black fortunes.


    September 5, 2011 at 4:01 pm

  4. You think it is? I wasn’t attempting to tie the two.

    And how do you get blame for the CRM out of this?

    Coby Dillard

    September 5, 2011 at 4:11 pm

  5. That’s the tenor of the commentary. As well as your usual anti-pro-black rhetoric.

    Why? What was the point, other than that? To compare an era of unprecedented growth at the fever pitch of the CRM to our current post-industrial, anti-union wasteland that has essentially revoked the gains of the CRm in all but name?

    Of course. None of that matters. It’s all in a name.


    September 5, 2011 at 4:28 pm

  6. First off, I didn’t write it.

    And I think it’s more a commentary of things that we did to ourselves. Society didn’t name our kids, for example.

    Coby Dillard

    September 5, 2011 at 4:33 pm

  7. Another book that might be recommended is the 1984 publication of Senator Patrick Moynihan of New York, LBJ’s lead man in the “New Society” program, “Family and Nation”. The truth is very troubling, the injury suffered by our society has not been, cannot be seen, as primarily economic. Its basis and its ultimate expression is moral and spiritual. God grant us a new visitation of his grace, and grant us hearts to receive and cherish it, and to pass it on to our children and children’s children.

    Michael Tocci

    September 7, 2011 at 12:39 am

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