by: Rishi Rajadhyaksha
A few weeks ago in English class, as my classmates and I considered our assessment of the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, I recalled a conversation I had with a few friends this past summer while on a hike.
One of my friends asked: “Rishi, do you think you are a person of color?”
I honestly replied yes, because that was just the way I had been raised and what I had been led to believe. He admitted that when he thought of the term, “person of color,” he generally assumed it referred to black people, but, in retrospect, it made sense to apply to any race that is not white. The dictionary literally defines a “person of color” as “a person who is not white.”
We discussed the topic, and came to the conclusion that the aforementioned definition is what it referred to.
But a few months later as I sat in class considering themes in To Kill A Mockingbird, I found myself back to the conversation, and I thought, "how is brown or black any less a color than white is? How come white is the only race that is not 'of color'?"
I genuinely feel that the term “person of color” subtly, inadvertently, and subconsciously ostracizes all races that are not white. Technically, white people are people of color relative to the world, because Han Chinese is the world’s largest ethnic group. There are billions of brown people living in Southeast Asia and around the world, but they are still referred to as “people of color.”
Terms like this only seek to differentiate ethnic groups instead of bringing them together, and it creates a barrier and accentuates the variance, rather than blurring it.
I most definitely do not take offense in being called this term and I do not want to be the kind of person who takes offense for other people, but, in hindsight, it is terms like this that perpetuate ideologies like racism, the constant reminder that we are different and not the same, which is false, unless you are comparing solely based on the amount of melanin in one’s skin.
At the end of the day, we are all part of the same race, the human race.