History of the Term "People of Color"
Loretta Ross -- Black feminist academic, activist, and leader in the reproductive justice field -- breaks down the term "women of color" as a political designation that originated when a group of Black women developed and put forth a Black Women's Agenda at the National Women's Conference in 1977, prompted by the conference organizers' insufficient attention to the needs and experiences of minority women. When the Black Women's Agenda was put forth at the conference, other minority women of color wanted to be included as well and through negotiations the term "women of color" was created not as an ethnic or biological definition, but as a "solidarity definition, a commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized" (Ross, "The Origin of the phrase 'Women of Color'"
Limitations of the Term "People of Color"
The term "people of color" can be limiting in that it lumps together the experiences and identities of all non-white folks into one category, when in actuality they are highly unique and diverse both based on racial identity as well as the multitude of other identities we each hold (gender, sexuality, class, immigration status, disability status, etc.). Oppression is experienced by marginalized groups in all of these categories and more in ways that are deeply harmful and unjust, and I don't seek to minimize the impact of these experiences in any way by not addressing them here. As a South Asian person working with other POC, I want to draw particular attention to how racial oppression is experienced differently and perpetuated within
POC communities. In the United States, the genocide of Indigenous peoples and enslavement of Black people, and the compounding effects of many forms of structural oppression to this day that these two groups have faced mean there is a history of and ongoing race-based trauma within each of these populations that is unlike any other racial group in the United States. Colorism and anti-blackness are prevalent in POC communities and have often been used as a way to gain proximity to whiteness, and thus, power. Writer Janani articulates the limitation of the term POC in saying, "…even if [we have] a common experience of being racialized, we [don't] have a common racialized experience" ("What's Wrong with the Term 'Person of Color'"
My Own Work around Race and Identity
It is a part of my ongoing work to examine these mindsets, behaviors, histories, and current practices of racial injustice as they show up in me, my work, and my communities and actively disrupt and dismantle them. In my coaching practice, I commit to holding the unique intersectional identities of each of my coach partners with care, humility and respect for nuance. I work to continually hold awareness of my own privilege and experiences with oppression in an effort to minimize bias and power dynamics within coaching relationships.