When I first heard the term ‘people of colour’ a couple of years ago, I was like what is people of colour? Is it directed towards black people as I see black people commenting on this? Google’s definition of this term is a person who is not white of European parentage. This term was first cited in The Oxford English Dictionary in 1796 and Martin Luther King used ‘citizens of colour’ in his speech in 1963. The term was used in the US as a result but not frequently until it’s resurfaced in mid 2010s in the US in where the UK has followed suit. The media platforms have beginning to use the term quite frequently particularly in television. That’s how I first came across it. In social media you see words like POC (People of Colour), WOC (women of colour) and MOC (Men of Colour).
At first I was for it as I even followed an account called Bloggers Of Colour. I was even saying the term ‘people of colour’ which showed I was supporting it. You can say it’s a sign of solidarity and an alliance to fellow people of colour that have been unrepresented and oppressed due to systemic racism. It’s an opportunity for voices to be heard and for this movement to be flourished.
But then my views have changed. I had a conversation with my mum in where she saw a black woman on TV saying as a ‘woman of colour’. I mentioned to her “A lot of people are saying that.” She replied “I don’t get why people are saying that. Everyone has a colour.” That comment made me think and have a different perspective.
The term is deemed to be widely and politically accepted to describe someone who is a ‘person of colour’. However I do feel it’s disrespectful for the media to brand us as that term. Also it’s degrading that people who are non-white use this term to describe themselves. I can understand the solidarity, the empowerment and it’s inclusiveness but feels it’s wrong to describe a person as that term.
I feel the term puts non-white people into a category like we are all in one box and that we have the same problems and for white people they are exempt and are elite. Using the term takes away a non-white person’s identity, heritage and race background. I know I would want to be identify as a black person who has African heritage as that’s who I am as I am not a person of colour. I feel a person who is Asian, Hispanic, Arabic, Mediterranean etc. would want to identify themselves as their race. This year I see people who are non-white say this term a lot in where they are calling out for equality, diversity and justice. This is in regards of the Black Lives Matter movement in where a black man called George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer in Minneapolis in US in where protests go global.
Organisations have recognise a change is required so they have announced plans to increase diversity and people are having frank discussions on racism but the real change should come from the government as the injustice towards black people has been happening for centuries and nothing has changed. But that’s for another discussion. But this Black Lives Matter movement proves that the term is not inclusive for all ethnic backgrounds. As my mum said to me “Everyone has a colour”. That includes white people. You don’t see them calling themselves as a person of colour but for non-white people, we want to use the term without having a clear thought process and we have allowed the media to show its fine. That’s not right. Frankly, the term is just to another way to describe black people.
Black Friday, an event for customers to get discounted prices after Thanksgiving has been around in the US for decades but it wasn’t used in the UK until a couple of years ago. It’s the same for ‘people of colour’. The UK likes to follow things that are relevant but it doesn’t mean it should occur. This term is not meant to cause offence but it has and it’s disrespectful. We should be refrained in saying that term is it takes away a non-white person’s individually experiences. So when a person calls you a ‘person of colour’, challenge them and ask them to describe you as your skin colour as that is your identity.