Analyzing term: people of color

Saya Meza

Constructing an alternative interpretation of PoC that offers a positive perspective for its subjects

I am Mexican.
am Hispanic.
I am Latina.
I am Chicana.
I am a person of color.

Each factor listed above is an important part of my identity and each one encompass different experiences I have had to live through.

It is all who I am, and every single part matters.

Three weeks back, a guest article was published by the Falcon focused on the term person/people of color (PoC) and the negative associations it has.

Throughout the article, the term PoC is framed as a negative, divisive term amongst minorities and was rejected by the author.

She argues that the term is unnecessary, as it denies an individual’s heritage, is reminiscent of derrogatory terms used in the past, and is rarely used between people of color.

I disagree with the view that is presented in that article and want to offer an alternative one.

Through my view, I choose to frame the term in a more positive light.

I see this title as one that encourages unity and recognizes experiences, and one that I greatly connect with.

Personally, it is an important factor in my identity, and I believe it is the same for many others.

The communities to which we belong to have a large impact on the person we are at any given moment, and every single one should be given due credit.

As a person of color, I am a part of a community that includes millions of others in this nation, and there is a sense of camaraderie and support that comes along with that.

As far as the term’s usage, the author of the article points out that people of color don’t call themselves PoCs during conversations with each other.

However, this is true for any group. When people belong to the same group, there is no need to state that membership.

White people do not speak to one another and call themselves white.

A football player does not converse with another saying, “As a football player, I…”

It is a given, and therefore does not need to be addressed amongst each other.

I agree that in this country, white sometimes feels synonymous to human. To be called anything else can feel like being seen as less than.

But by rejecting the term, you are shunning a part of your history and that only helps in reinforcing that notion.

Being a person of color in this country should not feel like a shameful fact.

All throughout my childhood I felt a pressure to assimilate. I felt a need to reject any term that branded me as non-white if I ever wanted to be accepted in this nation.

Since then, I have learned to find pride in these terms instead and I wear them proudly.

They do not make me any less of a whole person.

I demand to be acknowledged as human with all parts of my identity, and I will not sacrifice a single part of myself for it.

We do not all share the same challenges, histories or identities. There is no argument there.

We do, however, share the experience of being a person of color in the United States.

It is this oneness that creates an understanding of shared challenges.

It does not deny nor erase nor belittle your individual heritage and culture.

Rather it adds an additional layer to them:

I am Mexican, living in a political atmosphere where my ethnicity has become a dirty word.

I am Hispanic, having learned an adapted spanish tongue that was once forced down people’s throats; descendant of the Spain that conquered strangers’ homes.

I am Latina, my ancestors having their roots in Latin America, a conquered land; their culture intertwined with the conqueror’s, molded to create a new one.

I am Chicana, fighting to be recognized as American without giving up my heritage; too much of the ‘other’ culture and simultaneously not enough of ‘this’ one to be fully accepted by either.

I am a person of color, fighting for my equity alongside millions of others.

We have different histories, but are united under similar experiences: being non-white in a white-dominated nation.

To attempt to dismiss any one of these identities is to erase a part of my story and ignore the experiences they have brought with them.

I accept the title ‘person of color’ and I wear it proudly, knowing what it signifies for myself and others like me.