Anthony Browder: The Creation of the Negro

From the book, "From the Browder File. 22 Essays on the African American Experience" by Anthony T. Browder. Published by the Institute of Karmic Guidance in 2000. Available [HERE

Pick a name, any name-negro, colored, black or African American. Call a people by any name and they are still the same people, right? Wrong!

The name that you respond to determines the degree of your self worth. Similarly the way a group of people collectively respond to a name can have devastating effects on their lives, particularly if they did not choose their name.

Asians come from Asia and have pride in the Asian race. Europeans come from Europe and have pride in European accomplishments. Negroes, I am to assume, come from Negroland-a mythical country with an uncertain past and an even more uncertain future. Since Negroland is a myth, where did the myth of the negro originate? The key to understanding what a negro is, is to understand the definition of that word and its origin.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to enslave Africans, and they were the first to call them negroes. When the Spanish became involved in the slave trade, they also used the word negro to describe Africans. Negro is an adjective which means black in Portuguese and Spanish. But since 1444, and the beginning of the slave trade, the adjective negro became a noun and the legitimate name of a newly enslaved people.

Both the Portuguese and Spanish languages were derived from Latin which have their origins in Classical Greece. In most European languages, the word for black was typically associated with aspects of death. The word death is derived from the Greek word necro, which means dead, and is similar, in sound and meaning, to the word negro. Throughout European history the words necro and negro were commonly used to reference the physical, spiritual or mental death of a person, place or thing.

Historically when the Greeks first traveled to Africa 2,500 years_ ago, the Egyptian civilization was already ancient. The Great Pyramid was over 3,000 years old and the sphinx was even older. Writing, science, medicine and religion were already a part of the civilization and had reached their zenith.

The Greeks came to Africa as students to sit at the feet of the masters, and to discover what Africans already knew. In any student /teacher relationship, the teacher can only teach as much as the student is capable of understanding.

Egyptians, like other Africans, understood that life existed beyond the grave. Ancestral worship is a way of acknowledging the lives of the people who have come before you, and their ability to offer guidance and direction to the living. Temples were designed as places where the ancestors could be honored, and holidays (Holy Days) were the days designated to do so.

The Egyptians had hundreds of temples and hundreds of Holy Days to worship their ancestors. They had a preoccupation with life and celebrated the legacy of their loved ones. But the Greeks thought these Africans had a preoccupation with death. They regarded the act of ancestral worship as necromancy, or communication with the dead. 

Since the root word necro means dead, another word for necromancy is magic-that Old Black Magic which was practiced in ancient Africa. When the Greeks returned to Europe, they took their distorted beliefs with them and the word negro ultimately evolved out of this great misunderstanding.

Less that 300 years after the first Greeks came to Egypt as students, their descendants returned as conquerors. They destroyed the cities, temples and libraries of the Egyptians and claimed African knowledge as their own.

Not only was the African legacy stolen, but the wholesale theft of African people soon followed. With the birth of the slave trade and the creation of the negro, it became necessary to dehumanize Africans and devalue their historical worth as a people in order to ensure their value as slaves. What was once referred to as a color and physical condition is now regarded as an appropriate state of mind for millions of Africans now residing in America.

So there you have it, the negro- a race of dead people with a dead history and no hope for resurrection as long as they remained ignorant of their past. This was a triple death-the death of the mind, body and spirit of the African people. 

It was strictly forbidden for negro slaves to learn to read or write. Such knowledge was the key to liberation and was placed firmly out of reach. As negroes became educated, however, they sought to redefine themselves.

The evolution of the negro from colored, to black, to African American, to African represents a progression of self consciousness. As a free people, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves and rediscover our African identities. Knowledge of self is the key to unlocking the door to the future. The sooner we understand that fact, the sooner we will be able to say thank God we are an African people.



Of all the essays in From The Browder File, ”The Creation of the Negro,” has been one of the most popular. It has been well received for two obvious reasons, the subject matter and the accompanying illustration, specifically the image of the kingly figure emerging out of Africa.


The illustration was drawn by Malcolm Aaron and we have received numerous requests from people who asked permission to use the art on T-shirts and posters. Several years ago, while lecturing at an Air Force base in Misawa, Japan, I was told that this art was the most popular tattoo among brothers in the military. This image of a strong African king is one which any former negro would naturally be drawn to.

Regarding the word negro, and the legitimacy of its use as a name for Africans, I refer you to Richard Moore's book, The Name ”Negro” Its Origin and Evil Use. There is no doubt that the word negro was created by evil people for evil purposes. The late John Henrik Clarke often reminded us that "dogs and slaves were named by their masters and that only free men named themselves." With this understanding, any free-minded person should view the word negro as an inappropriate name for black people and black organizations.

I can understand our acceptance of the name years ago when we did not know any better. But with all of the knowledge that we have available to us there is no excuse for the continued use of a word that is demeaning and obsolete.

As a recovering negro, I have promised myself never to write negro with a capitol "N. "Negro is not a noun, it is a nuisance and it should be jettisoned from our vocabulary along with the other infamous "N" word. Anyone who chooses to use these words does so out of ignorance or disrespect.

The latent king or queen inside of you cannot peacefully co-exist with a negro mentality. Either you choose to be free and you think, talk and act like a free person, or either you are a slave. You cannot be both.


References and Selected Readings

Anderson, S.E., The Black Holocaust For Beginners, New York, N Y 

and Readers Pub. Inc, 1995.


Diop, Cheikh Anta, African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality, New

York, NM Lawrence Hill, 1974.


James, George GM., Stolen Legacy, San Francisco, CA, Julian

Richardson, 1976.


Moore, Richard B., The Name “Negro” Its Origin and Evil Use, Baltimore,

MD, Black Classic Press, 1992.


Williams, Chancellor, The Destruction of Black Civilization, Chicago, IL,

Third World Press, 1976.