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Living in Color: ’People of Color’ a phrase divided

5 mins read

The minimization of the minority has been a common trait of our society for centuries and has evolved over time in many different ways. Yet no matter how drastic the change, the oppression faced by minorities has continued to constrain any progress that could come. With the rise of Black Lives Matter movement, many are questioning whether or not the phrase ‘people of color’, often abbreviated as POC, is appropriate in this day and age. Some contend that the phrase undermines the struggles that certain minority communities face, in contrast to others.

From the beginning, people have been stripped of their rights and identities, seen only as the lesser kind due to the color of their skin. The term ‘citizen of color’ was a way to identify the mass majority of those who did not fit the standard of those in power. However, instead of letting this minimization bring them down, they used it to unite the various communities that were ostracized and form them into a united front. 

The term slowly turned into the commonly used phrase ‘people of color’ (POC). This promptly gave off the implication of color being the one thing that caused the racial division to begin with rather than citizenship. Now, during one of the most recent movements in civil rights has brought up the question of whether it does more harm than good. 

There is a lot of division on whether or not the phrase is truly of importance within society mainly due to history it has. When speaking to Kobe Brunson, an engineering major at a City College of Technology he stated “I don’t feel like the phrase [’POC’] is offensive- it doesn’t specify who it pertains to. Sometimes the phrase is thrown out of context and gets used in a derogatory way.” His issue wasn’t with the phrase itself but the misuse of the phrase and the negative connotations that tend to follow and make the phrase harmful, “It [the term ‘POC] usually is attached to a very poor statistic, like low class economy, but it’s not like that all the time. It’s just a fact that it tends to follow up with a negative statistic”. This occurs in modern society that the phrase was only associated with the concept of poverty or even crime within the mainstream media. 

“ The terminology is less specific, which allows many minorities to come together based on complexion which seems to be the larger issue at hand”, said J. Melendez, a junior psychology major at Queens College. ‘People of color’ does absorb all nationalities into one vast majority, yet this idea is not meant to overlook the past struggles that they have faced. 

According to a study conducted in 2015 by Kassia E. Kulaszewicz at St. Catherine University, in which they analyzed racial microaggressions towards black people compared to white people within various news outlets Kulaszewicz found that, “[t]he word black was used 196 times throughout the articles. This is 76%. In contrast the word white was used 63 times, about 24%. These numbers concluded that the word black or African-American was used 300% more white as the identifier”. The issue concerning the image of the phrase ‘POC’ mainly pertains to the use of the phrase and less of the history it holds. 

There is a bigger issue within the world than the terminology we use to describe ourselves. The fact of the matter is until big issues such as social injustice and racial inequalities are fixed, the concern towards phrasing that have little effect on reality fails to reach the surface of minorities’ struggles. The actions we take in the future will be bigger than any phrasing that was used against them at a point in history, and that is something that we as a society should strive towards.

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