Who are the “People of Color”

One undergraduate student writes to me that the term ”people of color is very offensive and I am surprised that it was used in the survey,” referring to the post-test survey conducted after the dialogue program. Incidentally, she was a participant in a video I had created to record dialogue reactions.
I do not disagree with her statement, and in a way completely at a loss to give an authoritative answer (considering that there are none). But this is what I had to say:

As for the “People of Color”, the phrase has been approved by the UN to address non-white populace in the world. Since usages of Negro, or other terms to address Asians (some call mongolian and some even chinks) were considered to be gross, the politically correct usage today is People of Color.
People of Color is used to identify the colonized people throughout the world who were oppressed by the Whites over the ages and I guess in want of a better term to describe them, we are today using this. “Color” is of course better than “Nigger” if you realize and hence there is no issue around it yet.
At the same time, I recognize that you do not wish such a term to exist. And I have highest respect for that sentiment. Maybe we could phrase a better term this time around. I personally also would like to be called differently.
To some extent I have reservations against “African-American” or “Asian-American” phrases too. I feel they just reinforce a racial hegemony of defining others in terms of the dominant class.
Your resentment to a conventional term indicates your forthrightness and honesty. Keep it up and do let me know if you come across a better phrase. I will join you in requesting for a better phrase.

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Author: Saswat Pattanayak

Journalist, Generalist, Atheist, Poet, Lover, Photographer, Communist, Third wave Feminist, LGBT ally, Black power comrade, Peacenik, Anti-capitalist, Critical media theorist, Radical film critic, Academic non-elite…

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