The pushback against the long-used term “people of color” is growing, especially since the acronym BIPOC began popping up — Black, Indigenous and people of color. Lumping all non-white people under any acronym or phrase such as “people of color” does a disservice to all, said CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria, host of “Fareed Zakaria GPS”.
The Democratic Party ideology of what it means to be multicultural “lumps a wide variety of ethnic, racial, and religious groups into one minority monolith and approaches them from a prospective that does not fit us all,” Zakaria said on the Nov. 29 episode of his show.
When the term “of color” is used to refer to all Americans whose ancestry is not 100 percent caucasian, we are treating all of these people as the same, which is not the case, Zakaria said.
“To white liberal Americans, the term ‘of color’ relies heavily on an understanding that many African Americans, the vast majority of whom are descended from slaves, have faced discrimination and other barriers to success that white Americans do not,” The MinnPost, a non-profit, nonpartisan news outlet, reported.
According to Zakaria, the term “people of color” is disrespecting Black Americans whose ancestors were slaves. “America’s treatment of Blacks has been cruel with policies that have broken their families and treated them either as subhuman or second-class citizens,” Zakaria said.
Lumping together all non-whites by the term “of color,” should be avoided, according to Zakaria. The issues and experiences of descendants of immigrants who came to America voluntarily from continents other than Africa are different than those of Native Black Americans.
Zakaria, himself an immigrant, was born in Bombay, India. He came to America to study at Yale as an undergraduate, then went to Harvard where he earned a Ph.D.
Lumping all Americans “of color” in a group associated with African Americans whose ancestors were slaves, and whose parents and grandparents lived through the Jim Crow era, tends to “ring false to American immigrants and their descendants,” Zakaria added.
Twitter seemed to agree with Zakaria.
“The Black Media has been pushing against the ‘People of Color’ narrative and its clear that drum has been heard when even white mainstream media is picking it up,” one person tweeted.
Another said Zakaria’s opinon was in line with those of ADOS founders Yvette Carnell (@BreakingBrown) and Antonio Moore (@ToneTalks. “Fared been taking notes and watching Breaking Brown and Tone Talks,” the person tweeted.
Another tweeted, “The elite South Asians in America (who are often darker or as dark in skin complexion as many African-Americans) are finally understanding how detrimental the term ‘people of color’ is if you are trying to understand racial conditions in America.”
“Black Americans have been called many names in the U.S. — African-American, Negro, colored and the unutterable slur that rhymes with bigger,” The New York Times reported. “As protests against police brutality and racism have flooded the streets and social media, another more inclusive term has been ascribed to the population: BIPOC.”
BIPOC first appeared in social media in a 2013 tweet. Its usage escalated in the last year amid the nationwide protests against racial injustice.
The phrase “people of color” goes back centuries. The Oxford English Dictionary first cited it with the British spelling “colour” way back in 1796. “People of color” is often abbreviated to POC. The other two letters, for Black and Indigenous, were added later.
“The Black and Indigenous was added to kind of make sure that it was inclusive,” said Cynthia Frisby, a professor of strategic communication at the Missouri School of Journalism, in a New York Times interview. “I think the major purpose of that was for including voices that hadn’t originally been heard that they wanted to include in the narrative, darker skin, Blacks and Indigenous groups, so that they could make sure that all the skin shades are being represented.”
For many activists, POC and BIPOC are both dismissive.
“It is lazy to lump us all together as if we all face the same problems,” said Sylvia Obell, a host of the Netflix podcast “Okay, Now Listen.” “When you blend us all together like this, it’s erasure. It allows people to get away with not knowing people of color and our separate set of issues that we all face. It allows people to play it safe and not leave anyone out, and it also allows you to not have to do the work.”
One tweeter agreed, posting “Don’t let Democrats/politicians use the terms ‘People of Color’ or minorities to describe Black Americans. They can easily say Black Americans. Using any other term to describe us is how they escape from doing anything specifically for us.”
POC is supposed to be used to draw attention to racial disparities and their structural roots, The Washington Post reported.
But for many, it does the opposite, “sidestepping the truth: that certain effects of racism — things like mass incarceration, police violence, inability to access good health care — disproportionately affect Black and Indigenous people. Not all ‘people of color,'” NPR reported.
Many in Black America want the term retired.
“The terms ‘women of color’ and ‘people of color’ are meant to be inclusive. But, from my perspective, they only help to leave Black people behind — specifically Black women,” wrote writer and producer Nadra Widatalla in an op-ed for The Los Angeles TImes.
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Not all “people of color” suffer equally from the effects of institutional racism, according to Widatalla.
“Black women are least likely to be promoted and supported by their managers in the workplace. Police kill unarmed Black people at higher rates than other races, especially Black women…Research also suggests that Black women are more likely to be publicly objectified, harassed and dehumanized,” she wrote.
Widatalla, Zakaria and others seem to conclude that “people of color” does an injustice to all.