“Hate” may be a strong word, but I’m not a fan of it, to say the least. The term People of Colour (POC), initially used in the US but is becoming increasingly popular in the UK, is used to describe all those who are not white. As a result of this umbrella term, all ethnic minorities are grouped under one category and this is where I find the issue presents itself.
First, however, let’s explore in more depth the actual term. The term seems to lead on from the word “coloured” which is now widely recognised as a discriminatory term to use today. It was adopted in the united states and it began to be used as a slur furthering the divide between racial groups, donning white as the superior race and the “coloured” as well… not. However, the term POC began to gain popularity in the twentieth century becoming a symbol of cross-racial solidarity against racial oppression but now I’m beginning to find its excessive use, frustrating. I don’t like it. What was once a term used to unify racial groups in a form of activism is now becoming a way for white people to feel more comfortable about conversations regarding race. It’s now becoming a way for the individual experiences of the black community, Latino community, Brown community and more to be ignored. It is now becoming a way to stigmatise terms like black, brown and so on, and this is the issue.
I am a black woman and I find no issue being identified as such, I am proud of the fact and to reiterate I do not see an issue with being called what I am- a black woman. However, I’m finding more that others seem to be. White people’s reluctance to say black- paints it as though the word is a slur, but it’s not. It’s my race. I realised this after talking to friends and teachers, many expressing that they felt it uncomfortable to call people black and would prefer to use the term POC as it was easier for them and they were less afraid of offending people in what is an uncomfortable subject. But talking about race and the hardships ethnic minorities endure is an uncomfortable conversation, it should not be an easy one to be had but that does not take away from the importance of having that conversation. And I pose the question- how can one even start to have conversations about race when they find it difficult to even say different racial groups.
What spurred me to write this article was seeing feedback to another article in my sixth form about black and brown people to which some students said it would be better to refer to them as POC not black or brown. And this left me shocked, confused even, why is it that referring to people as their race is seen as the worse option of the two? Why is it making it seem as if the term POC is more politically correct than their race? Why is it uncomfortable to call black people black?? I turned and I showed it to my friend beside me, who’s Asian- sorry- another person of colour and my shock was shared. Let’s go back to the fact that the term POC ignores the individual experiences of different racial groups. She identified how the use of this term has a way of ignoring all the different battles different racial groups go through and I completely agree. The bias I face as a black woman is unique to the bias south-east Asian people experience for example and we need to be able to address these groups separately and the nuances of each experience in order to combat the issue as a whole.
If I am speaking about a specific racial group I should be able to say black or brown without it being called into question whether that is politically correct or not. It’s becoming common to find out there is yet another new and exciting term to refer to ‘People Of Colour’ as, everything except their actual race. Let me not even get started on the term BIPOC, that is a term of which I can confidently say I hate, but perhaps that is a conversation for a later date…