Person of color

From Infogalactic: the planetary knowledge core
(Redirected from People of color)
Jump to: navigation, search

Person of color (plural: people of color, persons of color, sometimes abbreviated POC[1]) is a term used primarily in the United States to describe any person who is not white. The term encompasses all non-white groups, and is often claimed to emphasize common experiences of racism. The term is not equivalent in use to "colored", which was previously used in the US as a term for African Americans only.

People of color was revived from a term based in the French colonial era in the Caribbean and La Louisiane in North America: gens de couleur libres applied generally to people of mixed African and European descent who were freed from slavery or born into freedom. In the late 20th century, it was introduced in the United States as a preferable replacement to both non-white and minority, which are also inclusive, because it frames the subject positively; non-white defines people in terms of what they are not (white), and minority frequently carries a subordinate connotation.[2] Style guides for writing from American Heritage,[3] the Stanford Graduate School of Business,[4] Mount Holyoke College,[5] recommend the term over these alternatives. It may also be used with other collective categories of people such as students of color, men of color and women of color. Person of color typically refers to individuals of non-Caucasian heritage.[6]


The term "free person of color" (f.p.c.) was used alongside "free colored" in the US census to describe people of partial or full African ancestry who were not slaves, from 1790 until 1860. In South Carolina and other parts of the Deep South, this term was used to distinguish between slaves who were mostly "black" or "negro" and free people who were primarily "mulatto" or "mixed race.".[7] Though Martin Luther King, Jr. used the term "citizens of color" in 1963, the phrase in its current meaning did not catch on until the late 1970s.[8][9] Racial justice activists in the U.S., influenced by radical theorists such as Frantz Fanon, popularized it at this time. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, it was in wide circulation.[10] Both anti-racist activists and academics sought to move understandings of race beyond the black-white binary then prevalent.[11]

Political significance

According to Stephen Saris, in the United States there are two big racial divides. "First, there is the black–white kind, which is basically anti-black". The second racial divide is the one "between whites and everyone else" with whites being "narrowly construed" and everyone else being called "people of color".[12] Because the term people of color includes vastly different people with only the common distinction of not being white, it draws attention to the fundamental role of racialization in the United States. As Joseph Truman argues, the term people of color is attractive because it unites disparate racial and ethnic groups into a larger collective in solidarity with one another.[13]

Use of the term person of color, especially in the United States, is often associated with the social justice movement[14] and is regarded by some to be used by "social justice warriors",[15] a pejorative neologism for social liberals, modern progressives, fourth-wave feminists, and supporters of political correctness online.[16][17][18]

See also


  1. Jackson, Yo (2006). Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE. p. 77. ISBN 9781412909488. For example, the person of color (POC) racial identity model describes racial identity development for people of color...<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Christine Clark, Teja Arboleda (1999). Teacher's Guide for in the Shadow of Race: Growing Up As a Multiethnic, Multicultural, and "Multiracial" American. Routledge. p. 17. The term People of Color emerged in reaction to the terms "non-White" and "minority." … The term people of color attempts to counter the condescension implied in the other two."<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. The American Heritage guide to contemporary usage and style. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2005. p. 319.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Stanford Graduate School of Business Writing and Editing Style Guide" (PDF). Retrieved 18 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Mount Holyoke College. "Editorial Style Guide". Retrieved 18 September 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Houghton Mifflin Company (2005). The American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Style. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 356.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Powers, Bernard. Black Charlestonians: a Social History 1822-1885. University of Arkansas Press, 1994
  8. William Safire (November 20, 1988). "On language: People of color". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-21. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "The Black Press at 150", editorial, The Washington Post, March 18, 1977
  10. Rinku Sen. "Are Immigrants and Refugees People of Color?". ColorLines. Retrieved 2008-12-08.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. Elizabeth Martinez (May 1994). "Seeing More Than Black & White". Z Magazine. Retrieved 2008-06-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Zack, Naomi. American Mixed Race: The Culture of Microdiversity, 1995
  13. Tuman, Joseph S. (2003). Communicating terror. SAGE,. ISBN 978-0-7619-2765-5.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. Maurianne Adams; Lee Anne Bell; Pat Griffin (1997). Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice: A Sourcebook. Psychology Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-415-91057-6.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Goldberg, Joshua (5 December 2014). "How Social Justice Warriors Are Creating An Entire Generation Of Fascists". Thought Catalog. Retrieved 7 January 2016.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Gamers Misogynistic? Some Certainly Are". Irish Times. 18 October 2014. The term "social justice warrior" GamerGate: A Closer Look At The Controversy Sweeping Video Games (surely a good thing) has been used pejoratively to describe those writers who choose to examine the social and political subtexts of contemporary video games<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. "The Only Guide to Gamergate You Will Ever Need to Read". The Washington Post. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 22 April 2015. ...'SJW,' for social justice warrior—a kind of shorthand insult for liberals and progressives.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Johnson, Eric (10 October 2014). "Understanding the Jargon of Gamergate". Re/code. Retrieved 22 April 2015. A Social Justice Warrior, or SJW, is any person, female or male, who argues online for political correctness or feminism. 'Social justice' may sound like a good thing to many of our readers, but the people who use this term only use it pejoratively.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>