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house Bill H.R. 381

Should Outdated & Offensive Racial Terms in USDA & Interior Dept. Regulations be Changed?

Argument in favor

Derogatory terms have no place anywhere in respectable public discourse, let alone in federal regulations. Modernizing terms used to describe minorities in federal law should be a continuous effort.

Argument opposed

The terms used to describe minority groups in federal laws might be offensive to some — but Congress has more important things to do than spend time trying to correct its past mistakes.

bill Progress

  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Commodity Exchanges, Energy, and Credit
      Committee on Natural Resources
    IntroducedJanuary 9th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 381?

This bill would require the Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) and the Dept. of the Interior to change the terminology used to describe the racial background or place of origin of people in regulations concerning USDA programs for financing and insuring loans for properties in rural areas and the 1974 development plan for Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.

The USDA would replace “Negro or Black” with “Black or African American”, “Spanish Surname” with “Hispanic”, and “Oriental” with “Asian American or Pacific Islander”.

Interior would replace “Negro” with “Black or African American”, “Oriental” with “Asian American or Pacific Islander”, and “Eskimo” and “Aleut” with “Alaska Native”. It would also replace the definition of “Negro” with the definition of “Black or African American” as “a person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa”.


Members of racial groups that would be offended by the USDA and Dept. of the Interior regulations; and the USDA and DOI.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 381

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthDuring the 114th Congress, legislation removing the term “Oriental” and other outdated racial terms from federal laws was passed unanimously by Congress and signed into law.

This bill — reintroduced from the 115th Congress by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) — has the support of one cosponsor, who is a Republican. Last Congress, it passed the House by voice vote with the support of four cosponsors, all of whom are Republicans.


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: BCFC / iStock)


21st Century Respect Act

Official Title

To direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Administrator of General Services to modernize terms in certain regulations.

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