Wednesday, December 12, 2007

people of color

people of color: gente no blanca

This is a term in English that points to the politics of the person using the term, in particular to a recognition that certain people are racialized and the importance of coalition, that is, of making connections between the ways different 'people of color' are racialized The very mainstream variant would be 'ethnic minorities'. It is similar to the difference between the terms Hispanic and Latino, in the sense that you can peg someone's politics by what term they use. The literal translation in Spanish, gente de color, might make sense to Latinos in the US that know the term in English, or might even use it in Spanish language anti-racist organizing or coalition work, but it is total non-sense in Latin America. One option that was suggested to me was gente de comunidades etnicas, but again, this does not point to racialization. No, I don't think "race" exists, but racialization is a daily reality, that we have to make visible to be able to change. Terminology is important for this work. (Yes, white folks have a "race" too, but they are not racialized in the same way). (note that the term person of color is rarely used in Canada, where the widely used term, in both government and social justice contexts, is "visible minority").

Thanks to Roberto from Highlander for help on this one. I also asked for help on proz and found that most of the answers were really clueless about the politics of this term and the social justice context, so ojo when using proz for politically charged terms.

My friend Jonathan Luna, who is active in people of color organizing in the States, as well as inter-racial organizing in Colombia, argues for trying to teach/introduce the term gente de color in Latin America, given that it makes more sense to define by what people are than what they are not. I get that logic, and if you were going to try to do that I would suggest putting (todas las personas no blancas) after the first use of the term. I doubt 'gente de color' will ever catch on, but hey, you could try.
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