If we have learned anything from Gina Rodriguez’s constant (and, at this point, intentional) faux pas’, it is that Black is not synonymous with people of color. Although the terms can be used interchangeably, and usually are, we must be nuanced when we discuss race in 2019.
In a beautifully articulated article for Independent CO UK, Tolani Shoneye explained this much better than I can.
(SCREENSHOT: Tolani Shoneye / Independent)
Before everyone with a little drop of melanin in them was calling themselves a “POC,” Black people were the “Colored” people. The Coloreds, if you will. Then, we became African American. Now, we’ve settled on Black (capital B). Yet, for some non-Black people, that is a radical thing. Take Gina Rodriguez for example.
After being (rightfully) dragged for using the n-word like it was a new perfume, Rodriguez released an apology where she referred to Black people as the “community of color.” For some, this was deliberately obtuse – that Rodriguez had no problem using the n-word on camera (and posting the video!), but she could not even say “Black” in her apology. While I will not give too much energy to a shameless racist, Rodriguez’s behavior lends itself to a larger conversation about what it means to be a “person of color.”
A brief look at the origins of the term “person of colo(u)r.” (SCREENSHOT: Kee Malesky / NPR)
Who, really, are the people of color? Does it include the white Hispanics who act like they don’t understand what race is until it’s time to recognize Afro Latinx people (see: Gina Rodriguez); or is the same white Hispanics who assert their white privilege by using the n-word like it’s theirs to reclaim (see: Gina Rodriguez…again); is it Asians who adopt Black hairstyles and Blackcents as costumes (see: recent viral tweets)?
Personally, I am not fond of the term POC.
I use it sparingly because some POC can’t see past their own “color,” and there is anti-Blackness embedded in the use of the term. If someone Black makes an achievement and you call them a person of color, you are diluting their accomplishments by attributing it to an even larger group. Blackness already has enough nuances as it is without people trying to push us under some umbrella of racial harmony.
A Twitter user sounds off on the appropriation of Beyoncé’s “Brown Skin Girl.” For reference, this is what Fenty 330 looks like.
Historically, colored meant Black people. Yet, in the last few years, every other non-white race has tried to lay claim to the idea of being Colored. I don’t say this because I want to go back to being called “Colored.” Instead, I want to call people what they are.
In a perfect world, this will allow us to move past putting so much focus on race, but maybe that’s the optimist in me jumping out. Let me know your thoughts below.
Javanna is the editor of “Rwebel Magazine,” the architect behind “Rwebel Radio,” and the pioneering force of “Xscape.” Through her words, Javanna hopes to inspire creativity, passion, and forward-thinking.