Often when conversations are had and when articles and essays are touching on systematic racism and who it affects, the term “people of color” or its variations gets tossed around (women of color, minorities, communities of color, brown and black people, non-white). But, does anyone ever stopped and asked, what does that term even mean?
Does it mean anyone who is basically not white, and are all these people who aren’t white disparaged and mistreated in the same way? And, who is inflicting the mistreatment and disparagement?
What is “white” and who decided what “white” was?
The system of race we live daily life under would not have been as “successful” as it is nor would not have lasted for hundreds of years without the promotion of constant confusion, as Neely Fuller so eloquently explained.
Starting during childhood, we’re conditioned to see each other through the lens of race. The thing about race though is, it is a completely illogical concept. We’re all human beings whose ancestors lived in different regions of the world and evolved to adapt to whatever climate they were in. That is the only reason why human beings have varying skin tones and facial features, nothing more nothing less.
Therefore, there isn’t even a need to have racial classifications, not unless the goal is to create designations.
And, just like it was when the concept of race was in its infancy, it ONLY exists for there to be designations amongst groups of people, with those who are classified as white being designated as a top caste society and with those who are classified as black being designated as the bottom caste.
At a certain period in time in America, the Irish were not classified as white and neither were the Italians.
At one point in time, African Americans were classified as “black,” then to “colored,” then “negro”, then back to “black,” then on to “African American,” and now “people of color.”
This is what I mean by confusion, and the vast majority of us go along with this madness without giving it a second thought.
White supremacy, even though other groups are mistreated and killed under it, is based on ANTI-BLACKNESS, just like how it was when it originated.
Black people in America, specifically those who descend from American chattel slavery, have been particularly and consistently targeted by every level of the U.S. Government, terrorized by America’s citizens, stripped of our names and our home, denied citizenship in the very country we built, and denied basic human rights.
I’m not saying other groups aren’t mistreated under white supremacy, but black people have a very specific history and relationship with America, and what the “people of color” term or any equivalent does is promote further confusion in the name of keeping people disorganized.
If we’re so busy focusing on who is classified as what, we can’t know where we should be concentrating our efforts to produce any kind of measurable progress. The fact there is a classification system for race, in the first place, is the problem, and we’re so busy trying to figure out what we are and what we ain’t, we can’t see that.
The “people of color” term is also problematic in that it relegates the grim experiences black people have had to endure in this country for hundreds and hundreds of years. The damage inflicted on black society–which is still occurring–was so traumatic, so extensive, profoundly generational, lumping African Americans in with other groups takes the focus off that.
In regards to black people’s relationship with America, we require specific remediation and tangible resources to address the harm committed to us. When using the term “people of color,” it lumps all non-white people together and suggests there is some type of comparative struggle other groups have in common with us, and that is a lazy and disrespectful way to have a conversation about racism.
“Black” or “African American,” when we’re talking about those who descended from those who worked in the killing fields of American slavery, has a very distinct experience and history attached to it, and those must never be diluted nor undermined referring to that group as “people of color.”
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