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.
12/10/2021 07:03:27 am
Dear Rishi, This was a thoughtful and insightful article. Thank you for writing it. I once asked my daughter if it might make a difference in how white people thought about this issue if, instead of calling non-white people "people of color," we referred to white people as "colorless." It has a slightly negative connotation and might give us an idea of the subtle barriers words create. Thanks again for your article!
12/10/2021 07:06:19 am
Very well written text
12/13/2021 09:06:12 am
Thank you so much! I wasn't sure how large of an audience this would reach, but it is amazing to know that my work has people thinking deeper about things like this. I find your perspective intriguing, thank you for reading my article!
12/10/2021 08:36:58 am
This is awesome! A very new and different way of thinking that I don't believe many people have considered. Thank you for your insight!
12/10/2021 09:42:31 am
Loved reading this! Thanks!
12/10/2021 01:39:01 pm
Great spotlight on why and how language is so important. It is constantly evolving. These kinds of discussions are so important to keeping us evolving too. Beautifully written Rishi!
12/13/2021 09:53:29 pm
Thank you Mrs. Devlin! When I wrote the article I wanted to challenge beliefs and make people rethink ways that they may inadvertently ostracize cultures or ethnicities. I feel like race should not be a defining characteristic of a person, and terms like "person of color" reinforce the ideology that white people are different that everyone else.
12/10/2021 09:29:50 pm
THIS IS SO GOOD RISHI. I always thought about why society refers to black people as people of color when both black and white are actually shades, not colors.
12/13/2021 09:03:36 am
Nice article Rishi.
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