Mommy Dionisia gets flak for 'Negro' comment


Posted at Nov 17 2009 07:33 PM | Updated as of Nov 20 2009 03:35 AM

MANILA - A civil rights group has chided Dionisia Pacquiao, mother of famed Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, for using the word "Negro" in a public statement.

The Color People Advancement Community (CPAC), a small Las Vegas-based ethnic rights group, was reacting to statements made by Mrs. Pacquiao after her son's match against Puerto Rican boxer Miguel Cotto at the MGM Grand Arena on November 14.

Pacquiao, along with his entourage, had proceeded to the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino a few blocks away for a post-fight party and mini-concert.

There, Mrs. Pacquiao gave interviews and described her alarm at watching her son fight it out with Cotto for 12 rounds.

Mrs. Pacquiao also thanked all her son's supporters. "Nagpapasalamat ako hindi lang sa mga Pilipino. At pati na rin sa mga Amerikano at mga Negro. (I thank not only the Filipinos, I also thank Americans and Negroes)," she said.

According to reports from the Bandera tabloid and boxing website, the CPAC in Las Vegas issued a statement asking Mrs. Pacquiao to refrain from using politically incorrect words in public "so as not to inflame emotional outrage" from groups in the United States.

Political correctness

CPAC spokesman Rodney Surat Whiterspoon said Mrs. Pacquiao "can be forgiven" for the apparent racial slur since "she appeared to have been disoriented when she said the word."

"But someone with basic understanding about the proper use of addressing color[ed] people in the United States should educate Madame Pacquiao," Whiterspoon reportedly said in a press statement on November 16.

The term "Negro" (which means "black" in Spanish and Portuguese) was considered a discriminatory term around the 1960s, around the peak of the African-American civil rights movement that sought to free Blacks from political and social oppression by "the Whites."

In a 1992 study, Tom W. Smith tracked changes in the use of words used to label people of African descent. He found that terms for Blacks shifted from "Colored" to "Negro" to the now commonly accepted terms "Black" and "African American."

Smith said the changes in the use of terms are "attempts by Blacks to redefine themselves and to gain respect and standing in a society that has held them to be subordinate and inferior."