Quick Review: The Name Negro It’s origin and Evil Use

A MahoganyBooks Staff Review of a Book to Strengthen Black Identity

There are a number of books that, though aren’t considered classic literature, still qualify as ‘Essential Reads.’ A MahoganyBooks Essential Read is a book that we believe is integral to the process of developing:

  • a strong respect for oneself and their community,
  • a healthy awareness of their culture and African heritage, and
  • a positive mental attitude (PMA) about their current circumstances and their future potential.

Simply put, ‘Essential Reads’ are books that empower persons from across the African Diaspora to overcome PTSD developed over generations of relentless exposure to tactics that enforce and sustain a white supremacist system. (Okay, maybe there is a simpler way to put it.) Either way, Richard B. Moore’s, The Name “Negro” Its Origin and Evil Use is one such book. This book is important in that it enlightens the reader to the origin and racist intent of both the word ‘negro’ and it’s American cousin, ‘nigger.’

Staff Pick: The Name “Negro” It’s Origin and Evil Use by Richard B. Moore

Type of Book: Non-Fiction; African American Studies [Race & Culture]; History

by Richard B. Moore

My Quick Impression: This book is a pretty quick read that accomplishes it’s intended purpose. At the book’s end, I definitely understood the who, when, and why regarding the origin of the word negro. Though I feel there are still some details that I would like to have flushed out, I feel adequately prepared to have a conversation about my beliefs regarding whether this word should or shouldn’t be used.

What I Most Liked: The author does a good job of not only explaining the history of the word beginning in the 15th and 16th centuries, but he also identifies the political and economic motives of those European invaders and American capitalist who sought to exploit Africans as sub-human, free labor. We also find that the author includes a number of passages written by “European thought leaders” who sought to re-frame Africans as an amorphous group “natives”, while descendants of European colonizers were now considered Afrikan. Personally, these details provided clarity to the danger of not knowing the true definition behind the labels “history writers” apply to people and/or things.

What I Would Change: I would have loved if the author had discussed in more detail earlier in the book how the Spanish and Portuguese use of the word negro grew out of the Latin word niger. Though Richard Moore provides the definitions applied by the Spanish and Portuguese to the term negro, he neglects to explain how the definition went from being ‘black’ in its original Latin form to ‘accursed’ as used by Spanish and Portuguese colonizers. This would seem to be of extreme importance understanding that the Spanish and Portuguese languages are both evolutions of a Latin dialect used in the north-central part of the Iberian Peninsula.


Black Books Matter Rating:  

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About Derrick Young 24 Articles
I am the CEO and Co-Founder of the award-winning online bookstore, MahoganyBooks.

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