I was 3 when I first realized that I was different. I was 13 when I realized that I had to go on a journey of self-discovery and self-identification because even you, America, didn’t know what I was. And then, I was 23 when I started being affected by people calling me, and others like me, as people of color. America calls people who are of minority and multiracial backgrounds as people of color. By doing so, America merges all of these vastly different and amazing people together as one. By doing so, America is callously separating them from white people.
The first time
The first time that I heard mention of this term, it didn’t sit well with me. I would reminiscence at length about this term. The term ‘person of color’ actually goes back years in America to first refer to people who were of African descent, and then later has evolved to also encompass people of Asian, Pacific Islander, Latino/a, and Native American descent. But this term is too similar to the offensive moniker of ‘colored people.’ If ‘colored people’ is so offensive, then how can ‘person of color’ somehow be better? It is as if you, America, are under the impression that by simply rearranging the words, we can transform a word that has negative and prejudicial connotations to one of racial empowerment. But the way I look at it, you can pronounce a word differently, and at its root, it has essentially the same meaning. Just because the expression is cleverly disguised doesn’t mean that it is better.
I don’t think it is better simply because I don’t feel good being identified as such. I understand America that it can be used as a way to empower minorities and multiracial people. But, it seems to me that all it does is separate non-whites from whites. And wasn’t that the crux of American slavery? During those times, non-whites were separated from whites, suggesting inevitably that one racial group was better than the other. It also suggests that there will always be a deep division between these two groups, pitting them against each other. I would even so far as to say that this could even be the first step toward once again having a racial hierarchy, designating who is a first class citizen and who is a second class citizen.
And what does it matter, America? Why should we continue to separate people simply because some people just happen to have more melanin in their skin? It goes without saying that America, you judge too harshly the color of a person’s skin. America, to you, skin color is one of the most important traits in categorizing people. How can it be that important when it is only one aspect of a person? How can it continue to divide people when we have had so many greats speak out about the necessity of judging not by the color of the skin, but by who we are on the inside? I have had many teachers teach this very lesson, and yet, this is one lesson that you, America, have never grasped.
Oh America, what can you do?
America, I think that you should abstain from saying ‘people of color.’ I get that this term might even be a necessity as a way to call out minority or multiracial groups in a positive light. While that is okay when all is said and done, but at the same time, it makes me wonder, why is there even a need for that? Why can’t we all just be people? Why can’t we all just be human beings? Why can’t we be one, instead of so divided?
I think one of the reasons why it is often vital to call out minority and multiracial groups is to compensate for some of the violence and damage that was done in America a long time ago. While I am not justifying the violence and racial terrorism in no way at all, I am saying that sometimes the greatest damage can be done by simply pointing out a person’s differences even when it is in a positive light. Sure, America, you can say that someone who is a person of color did this great deed and should be acknowledged with accolades upon accolades.
But when you look past the kudos, there is me wondering why was it even necessary to bring up the term person of color? By doing so, I think that we are turning them into a beacon of light, as if they are a shining example for their communities. While there should be more representation, more representation often comes at a tremendous cost. That cost is ultimately a loss of who we are as individuals and as a group. That cost is the loss of the freedom to simply be, instead of always being compared against other people, against other minorities, and against white people. Minorities and multiracial people are still not treated the same as that of white people. And there is the problem.
So, dear America, please don’t call me a person of color. By calling me a person of color, you are disregarding my feelings by reducing me to a vague label. America, you are suggesting that I am nothing more or less than being a person of color, or someone who is not fully white. You are suggesting that that is all we could ever be, while also suggesting that that will always be a deep racial divide between whites and non-whites.
And yet, why should that particular term be used? After all, aren’t we all people of color. We all have pigment in our skin. It’s just that some people have more and some people have less. Either we are all called people of color, or not. There is no middle ground. There is no some of us are people of color, while some aren’t. We are all people. We are all members of the human race. And no one should be made to feel inferior simply because of the color of the skin.