Person of color
(plural: people of color) is a term used,
primarily in the United
States, to describe all people who are not white.
The term is meant to be inclusive
among non-white groups, emphasizing common experiences of racism
. People of color
is preferred to both
which are also inclusive, because it frames the subject positively;
defines people in terms of what they are not
(white), and minority,
by its very definition, carries a
connotation. "Person of
color" is thought by some to have a positive connotation and has
often been preferred by people of color in the US.
Although the term citizens of color
was used by Martin Luther King, Jr.
in 1963, and
other uses date to as early as 1818, people of color
not gain prominence for many years. Influenced by radical theorists
like Frantz Fanon
, racial justice
activists in the U.S. began to use the term "people of color" in
the late 1970s. By the early 1990s, it was in wide circulation.
Both anti-racist activists and academics sought to move
understandings of race beyond the black-white binary then
According to Stephen Saris, in the United States there are two big
racial divides. "First, there is the black-white kind, which is
basically anti-black". The second racial divide is the one is
"between whites and everyone else" with whites being "narrowly
construed" and everyone else being called "people of color".
Because the term people of color
includes vastly different
people with only the common distinction of not being white, it
draws attention to the fundamental role of racialization in the US.
It acts as "a recognition that certain people are racialized" and
serves to emphasize "the importance of coalition" by "making
connections between the ways different 'people of color' are
racialized." As Joseph Truman explains, the term people of
is attractive because it unites disparate racial and
ethnic groups into a larger collective in solidarity with one
Linguistically, the term person of color
on its head, substituting a positive for a
negative." Whereas nonwhite
defines people by what they
lack (whiteness), people of color
people by their connected experiences.
[P]eople of color is a phrase often used by nonwhites
to put nonwhite positively.
(Why should anybody want to define himself by what he
is not?) Politically, it expresses solidarity with other nonwhites,
and subtly reminds whites that they are a minority.
When used by whites, people of color usually carries a
friendly and respectful connotation, but should not be used as a
synonym for black; it refers to all racial groups that are not
Furthermore, the term people of color
has been embraced
and used to replace the term minority
because the term minority
implies inferiority and disfranchisement. In addition, people of
color constitute the majority population in certain