Dear Editor,

I couldn’t finish reading Mary McGann’s column “It’s time to rename Negro Bill Canyon” in your most recent edition, because I was laughing too hard. Here is the sentence that caused my reaction: “The Spaniards and the Portuguese slave traders first created the word ‘Negro’ as a reference to a human being.” I hate to break it to Ms. McGann, but the word “negro” is Spanish and Portuguese for the color black. It is simply a descriptor, like the words “green” or “tall.” It comes from the Latin “niger,” meaning the color black, and as we all know, the Latin language, while dead, was around long before the Spanish and Portuguese began their slave trade operations. In fact, in doing some research on the subject, I came across this on Wikipedia: “In Brazil and Portugal, negro is the most respectful way to address people of Black African descent…” While I am sure there are some African Americans who regard the word “Negro” (the word is capitalized when referring to a human being) as offensive, I do not believe it was intended to be derogatory. Rather, it was a more acceptable way to describe a person of color than the other “N” word. Do white people get offended being called “white?” Do tall people get offended being called “tall?” I haven’t yet met a black person who was offended being called “black.” A description is not necessarily an insult.

Darcy Matthews