Jannah Theme License is not validated, Go to the theme options page to validate the license, You need a single license for each domain name.

City Council Audio Leak: Let’s Ditch the ‘People of Color’ Label

It was the end of my first day at a new job on the Cal State Los Angeles campus, and I boarded a bus for the long drive home with a crush of students jostling each other. for the few empty seats. I saw an older Asian woman slip out of her aisle seat and wave to a young Latina standing nearby to take the empty seat next to her.

The student dropped down gratefully, putting her backpack on her lap. Then she spotted me, weary of work clothes and heels, and popped up, motioning me to take her place. I thanked her quietly and sat down.

I had barely settled in when I felt a rustle from the seat next to me. The old woman was mumbling and staring at me, as she retrieved her shopping bags and hurried past me to stand in the aisle.

I had no doubts about what was going on. This Asian woman would rather stand with her bags than rest on a seat next to a black person. I imagined everyone on the bus was watching us and knew it too.

I slid into her vacant seat, turned my face to the window, and reached into my purse for a handkerchief to wipe away the tears that threatened to stream down my cheeks. I didn’t even bother to look when someone sat next to me – until I heard a soft voice say “I’m so sorry”.

It was the student who had given me her place.

His private acknowledgment of my hurt feelings meant the world to me. The burden of being publicly belittled felt a little lighter because she understood how humiliated I felt.

It’s a familiar sentiment to many people of color – but in this case, my tormentor was also a person of color. And the young woman who took care of me too. This triad is an emblem of the racial complexity of Los Angeles, with its mixture of cruelty and generosity.

Many years have passed since that episode, but the pain, anger and shame it stirred in me resurfaced last month when I listened to three of our city’s elected Latino leaders gleefully mock and insult the Black.

Their tirade made international news, due to the foul and racist language they used to describe blacks, gays, Armenians, Jews and Oaxacas during a private, secretly recorded meeting on the increased political power of Latinos at the expense of other struggling groups.

Then, adding insult to injury in the days that followed, politicians dropped their pseudo-apologies with references to serving ‘communities of color’ – when the only color they really seem to care about is brown. light. Theirs.

And it got me thinking about whether the label has outlived its usefulness. It’s an inspiring vision and a clever rallying cry, but it doesn’t weigh at the polls or evenly empower the marginalized groups he is supposed to represent.

Now may be the time to drop the label “people of color” and its twin “communities of color” — along with the pretense that all non-white groups can be seamlessly linked in the fight for equality. by the color of our skin.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the bonds between racial and ethnic groups in multicultural Los Angeles are weak. We may share economic stressors and even neighborhoods, but we have different priorities, challenges and needs – and seemingly little regard for solidarity, given that the leaders of our city’s largest ethnic group were trying to grab power by cutting other groups at the knees.

The “people of color” framework began to take shape decades ago as black civil rights leaders attempted to find common ground with the growing pool of nonwhite immigrants. But research by UCLA political science professor Efrén Pérez found that “the unity behind ‘people of color’ crumbles” when individual racial groups feel their unique challenges are ignored.

“There is nothing natural about camaraderie among people of color,” Pérez wrote in a 2020 opinion piece for The Washington Post. “For every point in common, a point of difference impinges on unity.”

Dropping the label wouldn’t mean giving up the idea that there is power in our collective energy. But it would allow us to let go of the fantasy that Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans are the sum of our similarities and should be willing to sublimate our own priorities to advance the needs of others.

And while “people of color” is part of the zeitgeist today, debate over the concept has long been vigorous in academic and political arenas.

Is it necessary for the advancement of marginalized groups? A form of waking language, trying to evoke a collectivity that does not exist? Or worse, a way to “erase” black labor and worth, as our slice of the American pie shrinks and other groups profit from the gains black people have made over the centuries?

“We’ve talked about it a lot over the years,” said Jody Armour, a USC law professor who specializes in the intersection of race and justice. “I’ve always been skeptical of the ‘people of color’ category.” He considers it “potentially deleterious to the well-being of black people”.

He points, for example, to trends in higher education, where the pool of new admissions includes more people of color, even as the number of black students declines. “We celebrate international students, Asians, Latinos, students of color, while [enrollment] black students is plummeting,” Armor said.

It may be a victory for diversity, but it’s a blow to the very group that has fought the hardest to open the doors of elite universities to the underserved.

The POC category replicated the reductive colorism of this country, which locks dark-skinned people to the bottom of its “people of color” hierarchy. It’s become a way of “camouflaging anti-darkness,” Armor says.

“I saw so clearly in these tape talks how different groups in America are establishing their bona fides as first-class citizens through anti-Blackness,” Armor recalled. “You stand apart from black people, and this is your introduction to something like whiteness.”

Even among Latinos, support for non-white solidarity is elusive, said Fernando Guerra, professor of political science and Chicana/o studies at Loyola Marymount, who founded the university’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles. , which regularly surveys the city’s ethnic groups.

“When we ask [Latinos] how they identify, the vast majority identify with their national origin,” he said. They are Mexican, Guatemalan, Salvadoran – more related by language, culture and customs than by skin color. “As an array of groups in Los Angeles, the Latino community can’t even come together to figure out what to call each other,” Guerra said.

Yet Guerra’s research suggests that blacks and Latinos feel an affinity for each other and their shared circumstances. When asked which group best understood your experience, Latinos said “predominantly” black, and black “predominantly” said Latinos, Guerra told me. And Asian Americans say they feel a strong affinity with Latinos — in part because of their immigration background.

So how do you build and sustain these relationships, without creating a dynamic that makes one group win at the expense of another? We begin by abandoning the one-dimensional term which suggests that we can only move forward in parallel.

“It doesn’t have to be a political tag game,” Armor told me. Allies can be of any color. “Who are the other people who see America as more than a zero-sum competition, who want to see an America that is inclusive, diverse, and equitable?”

We find them and build coalitions rooted not just in our outlier status, but in our shared commitment to social justice. We show up when other groups need us. We are looking for ways to maintain our momentum, after rallies, demonstrations and marches end.

“Identity politics will always be with us,” Guerra acknowledges. “You wear it on your face. You can’t get rid of it. You are judged by that. But everyone has multiple identities. I don’t consider myself a simple Latino. I am a father, a brother… And our challenge is to bring our whole being into the public space.

And to keep glimmers of hope when you need energy.

For me, years ago, that hope was the student who crossed racial lines to comfort me.

And more recently, it was the mass of blacks, browns, Asians and whites, converging on City Hall wearing T-shirts proclaiming “I stand with black people”. And their unwavering insistence that business as usual won’t happen until public servants discredited by their own bigotry move on, whatever color they are and whatever you call them.

Los Angeles Times

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.

Back to top button