In recent years, the term “POC” (people of color) has become increasingly popular as a catch-all term to refer to individuals who are not white. However, many people fail to realize that the term originated from slavery and was used as a euphemism for Blackness in places like Haiti, Barbados, and the American South. When non-Black people appropriate the term “POC,” they are erasing the specific experiences and struggles of Black people and perpetuating the erasure of their identities.
The term “POC” emerged in the context of racialized slavery and was used as a way to describe people who were enslaved but who were not classified as “white.” In many cases, the term was used specifically to refer to Black people and served as a euphemism for Blackness. This history of the term is important to consider when we use it today, as it can perpetuate the erasure of specific identities and struggles.
Defining ourselves and others based on skin tone upholds the systems of oppression that created and benefit from racism. It’s important to recognize that the language we use has real-world consequences, and the terms we choose to describe ourselves and others can either promote or perpetuate systems of power and oppression.
Terms like “POC” and “non-white” can be problematic and invalidating because they erase the specific identities and experiences of different racial and ethnic groups and reduce them to a single monolithic category. Likewise, terms like “Latino/a/x” can also be problematic because they are often used to refer to people who are of “Latin American” or “Hispanic” descent, but fail to acknowledge the diverse racial and ethnic identities of people in these communities. The term “Latinidad” has also been criticized as a product of colonialism and white supremacy, as it has been used to erase the diverse racial and ethnic identities of people in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Alternatively, the term “racialized”, which refers to the process of assigning a race or racial identity to a group of people, is a better replacement because it addresses the origin of the concept of race rather than accepting being othered based on eugenics and pseudoscience.
In addition to perpetuating the erasure of specific identities and struggles, the term “POC” reinforces the idea that race…