Use of the term People of Color (POC)

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This topic contains 39 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  jakelafort 1 day, 20 hours ago.

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    Pope, it does not work for me. The three or four authors took the position more or less that the term POC is an expression of the opposition to oppression by Whites. A united front. (Yeah i am paraphrasing without any bs) On that basis the addition of other populations that are now included in POC minimizes those groups who have suffered the greatest harm. The linked article the author is at least sharp enough to realize that the term POC is offensive and going from Colored to POC does not mitigate the racist connotations.

    Simon gets it. He said… I agree with you, using the term POC is as if white people are the standard, and everyone else is strange or special. The color was always and continues to be from the perspective of the Whites. It is degrading to perpetuate that perspective and as aforementioned i have to assume that sense of being lesser humans is unconsciously imbibed. There is no POC as a concept without Whites because not only is it derived from Whites to describe the others but it depends on the fiction that white is not a color. It is inherently demeaning to be known only in relation to another population.

    Saying well that is your opinion is not the best rejoinder. Seeking a culture-wide consensus is perhaps even worse. Medieval Europe cultural consensus that earth is flat…and the lord has the right of first sex with the peasant’s new wife and on and on. Cultural consensus is like argument from popularity. And keep in mind that when you ascribe to individuals within a population the choice of adopting the term POC you are being somewhat flip. The term was selected by some tiny minority and once having been chosen the weight of custom bears its imprint.



    Cultural consensus is like argument from popularity. And keep in mind that when you ascribe to individuals within a population the choice of adopting the term POC you are being somewhat flip. The term was selected by some tiny minority and once having been chosen the weight of custom bears its imprint.

    But that’s how language works, for better and for worse, and then it evolves, for better and for worse. The history should be in history books, and in the etymology metadata in dictionary/encyclopedia entries. I’m still, repeatedly put off when I hear “nukular”, even as I’m resigned to the demise of the original pronunciation of nuclear, which (to me) is NOT that difficult to say properly. (Wait, I suppose so-called “proper” pronunciation is superseding my personal preference, there. Damnit!)

    I’ll defer to any evidence presented on how it impacts young people negatively. It would not surprise me if they just make it mean what they want it to mean, which may be different from prevalent meanings. I mean, that’s like, really sick, isn’t it?



    I mean, that’s like, really sick, isn’t it?

    I think that it is just so random too 🙂



    Pope, there is no question that language evolves. If you read old literature you are cognizant of words that are archaic and words that once were this and now that. And the this words sometimes change meanings when they become that. There is some scale or other that purports to give the frequency of various word usage during prior years or decades.

    I would not make the analogy however to POC. It is a pseudo neologism acronym. Usually changes in words are simply aesthetic. In this case we observe conceptual and historical abominations!

    Finding evidence or even designing an experiment to test the POC hypothesis is not easy. However i think the doll test that was cited in Brown v Board is more than a little instructive. I quote here… Drs. Clark used four dolls, identical except for color, to test children’s racial perceptions. Their subjects, children between the ages of three to seven, were asked to identify both the race of the dolls and which color doll they prefer. A majority of the children preferred the white doll and assigned positive characteristics to it. The Clarks concluded that “prejudice, discrimination, and segregation” created a feeling of inferiority among African-American children and damaged their self-esteem.

    Thus it is that adopting a term that will perpetuate the singular differentiation that was the wrapping on the justification of slavery is to affirm rather than negate the past.



    Good luck new learner of English in getting that meaning of sick.



    Cop a poc. Poc da Poc. That horse is a lock. Bettors are influenced by names. Fast Buck Freddy is gonna take more action than is warranted on his PPs. Hmmm. What is in a name?

    Better more neutral descriptions of mental health conditions and addiction can help victims? Whaaaaaaaa? What is in a name?

    But using the term POC is not internalized? Yeah right….

    POC is feckin stupidity on display.



    Good luck new learner of English in getting that meaning of sick.

    Slang takes hold quickly among the young, with little regard for language history. So when you say “new learner of language”, do you just mean non-English speaking immigrants? If that’s the case, I would get your point.

    I’m still seeing your examples of qualitative research. There is some validity to it, as that’s largely how social science makes advances, in fits and starts, and intuitions that seem to hold water. I’ll concede that use of the term PoC may have some negative impact on some kids, but these aren’t all-or-nothing, black-or-white [lol, sic] knowns, yet. Time will probably tell more, and it’s very possible, imo, that the pride with which the term PoC is used may outweigh its malicious legacy. I respectfully disagree with your pov on this, as similarly, I respectfully choose to take different approaches to atheism than others, believing that it’s often constructive to allow for more than one approach even if those approaches seem incompatible. (In the scientific context of evolutionary terms, this allowance of multiple povs results in variety, in this case of a variety of potentially valid opinions.)   I’m good with PoV usage evolving to invoke pride, while you’re good with pointing out its historical malicious usage.

    Speaking of language usage, that ScienceDaily article is (imo) interesting and relevant. I can support what it reports, from my own experience. I have an officially diagnosed mental disorder, which I’m still not able to talk about publically, but I’m working on it. The popular term used for it is usually used pejoratively. The fact that it is an “official diagnosis” is, again, “as defined and determined by” professional social scientists and therapists.

    I’ve been in therapy for maybe ten years now, not just for the dysfunction I mention, but for two others as well, Social Anxiety and Depression. Officially diagnosed, and treated, and the third diagnosis and treatment is the last, life-long disability I’m working on. I feel like a completely different person than I was from teenhood to almost 60 years old, and in my 60s I’m now an example of social science and psych therapy success. Short story, my social anxiety was very debilitating for me, and I had no idea that help was available–it largely wasn’t available for decades–until after it resulted in a depression in which I could hardly function at all in real life, and I became divorced and homeless. Until my daughters stepped in and signed me up for medical and social services, including veteran’s services which had, by far the largest positive impact on my recoveries.

    In my experience, the use of popular terms used to describe my three dysfunctions (now down to one last dysfunction)… those terms may have had impact on me, but only because of what how I imagined the sentiment was behind those terms when people used them. When I was a teen, I didn’t even know which terms were relevant to my weaknesses, I only felt the sentiment of the people who used those terms, any terms, while I was completely uninformed and even uninterested in the historic use of those terms. Maybe I’m an exception, and my story is just anecdotal, and perhaps even my white privilege somehow led me to ignore the historical context of those terms? I was not a member of any minority group; indeed, I had no clue that there were so many people out there that had the same social disabilities. So I see the cures for overcoming otherness in a different light than just majority vs minority injustices.

    Decrying language mis-usage, i.e. (imo) enforcing political correctness in language alone, may have some positive impact, but by far, it’s the attitude and sentiment among people, in the case of PoC term usage, that makes the difference. I.e. yes, words matter, but above all, it’s the intention and sentiment of the users of those words that has the biggest impact. Blacks can call each other niggers, because of the mutually understood intention of how the word(s) are used, in spite of the historical usage. Historically, in language usage, groups have the power to take ownership of words and re-invent their impact, and I think that’s probably happening right now, with the term PoC.

    As for the last, personal dysfunction I have to overcome, I intend to be increasingly open and public about it. In the process, as I understand how so many other people share this dysfunction (and as I increasingly understand variations of it among my weekly Google Meet participants that’s been steady since Jan 2021), I hope to extend myself further into that world to provide helpful resources to more people with this problem. I’ve not yet found a relevant social networking website or group that has a local, nationwide or global following, so I’m already focusing on building such a website. I already own an appropriate domain name for it. (In fact that’s largely why I’ve had less time, recently, to be here at AZ.)

    Hmm, I see that a few PeopleOfColor domain names are available… I’d probably be most interested in the .online, .info, .site, or .space, but I have way too much on my plate atm. You’d be among the first I’d invite to join!!

    • This reply was modified 2 days, 16 hours ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: after a dozen corrections/adjustments to my inadequate writing, only a couple hours later I notice "Jan 2020" when I meant "Jan 2021"


    Pope you have served up a lot of meat. And i am a vegetarian. Thanks for sharing part of your experience with mental illness which by the way is a bit of a misnomer. But goddamnit don’t get me going on that!

    Pope: I’m good with PoV usage evolving to invoke pride, while you’re good with pointing out its historical malicious usage. That is not completely accurate. As i mentioned i have no issue with pickney (little kids) in Patois even though the root whence pickney is derived is racist. That is because the word is not resonating with its historical baggage and igniting bad feelings and eliciting connotations of yore. I also think that pride can be associated with terms that were once offensive. In the case of pickney i am give to understand it is simply a neutral way to refer to small children.

    Pointing out malicious historical usage is not in and of itself making me retch. It is the adoption of perspective of the Slave holding class. It is also sick to adopt Christianity. Stick to the religion of your heritage or better yet reject in sum the malicious superstitions. But at least in the case of Christianity there is a bit of an excuse in that the mind virus was forced on Blacks and mind viruses can be very difficult to shed. In this case we have the oppressed group voluntarily utilizing both the historical anathema of COLOURED and the conceptual nightmare of having a group’s identity depend on Whites. People of color is literally without meaning except with reference to Whites. What would people born of a mother or People who walk identify?

    Pope, yes that sci daily article did not surprise me in the least. It is consonant with my understanding and expectations. The great majority of us with or without knowing the historical context will FEEL terms that are pejorative. Children who live with parents almost always know what their parents think about homosexuality and various ethnic groups and smoking dope even when they do not discuss those matters explicitly. Whether you were aware of the etymology and history is less important than your internalizing the spirit of the usage of those terms.

    I have little doubt that POC is not only internalized by children who are described by the term but also by Whites who come off continuing to feel the superior social group who are at the same time liberal in accepting the terminology of the others. What is in a name? It depends on the context, the conceptual and the intonation of the speaker. Similar to stigma in mental illness is the racism associated with the term colored. And the OF does nothing to rescue the term. I was of counsel a few times. I was still counsel. We know Blacks are ultra hip to skin shade and there is a great deal of social dynamic among Blacks based on shade. Perpetuating the calumny by utilizing the pejorative term with a slight modification just brings more of the injustice.

    As to political correctness i am an opponent. I am an advocate of reason. Political correctness speaks to a Victorian mindset. Not my thing. Autumn mentioned taking the term back or something similar. And of course it occurred to me how some Blacks use the word Nigger. But that is not a good analogy to POC. Nigger is perhaps the most racist fuel-injected term. POC is derived of a less venomous racial term and is a latter day adoption that was never taking the word back the way Nigger sometimes is. Hey homes you my person of color. Have those words formed a sentence before now?

    I wonder how i would be received at a university if i came to give a CRT talk on POC. That would be funny. I am glad you have largely overcome some serious obstacles. May the horse be with you.



    So I just took a gander at seeing how normal it is to include “People of Color” in book titles. I intentionally skipped over books dated older than a half dozen years or so, just to keep the data relatively current. (Fortunately, I have a clipboard manager that makes it quick and easy to copy/paste URLs in quantity. But I still stopped copy/pasting after the 3rd page of results.)

    I don’t mean for you to click on any of the links. If you just do a search in Amazon books for “people of color” the following links will show up on the first three pages, along with some other books that did not have PoC in their title (which I did not include in the list below).

    (Drat, I did not expect those links to show here as Amazon products with pictures. I’ll at least adjust the order of the links so that the links without the pictures appear together at the top.)

    Full title and date: The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives Paperback – October 1, 2015

    Full title and date: In Our Words: Queer Stories from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Writers Paperback – June 15, 2021

    —– —– —– —– —– —– —– —– —– —– —– —–




    Yeah Pope it is a mainstream thing. No doubt. It is also stupid as can be.

    I’ve come up with a brilliant acronym to replace POC. In so doing the stain of coloured and all associations is abjured and rebuked. The stain is the abhorrent and implicit meaning in which Whites are standard model default ACTUAL humans and Blacks are colored, debased and lower forms of life. Behold…cuz this is gonna go viral like a mutha.



    I was struck by a bolt of thunder from the gods. I take no credit.

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