I recognize that one of the reasons why Donald Trump has been so popular in the last year is that he goes against the widely accepted range of what society deems politically correct. Intellectually, I understand the appeal. When I think about transgender folks, for example, I get knotted up in a jumble of pronouns, gendered language, and misconceptions. As a result, I tend to be more trepidatious when speaking about transgender people and that hinders me from able to speak as I would about anyone else.
I’m much more comfortable talking about race. I’m an Afro-Caribbean Dominican-American who identifies as both black and Latino. I’ve had countless conversations with white folks who are confused about one or another part of that sentence. It’s part of life and I get it.
When I hear white folks talk about people of color and refer to them as minorities, however, I get annoyed. Not indignant. Not offended. Just annoyed.
There is an inherent subversive underpinning in the term minority. While on it’s face it seems to describe a very accurate reality (there are more people who identify as white in the United States as of this writing than people who do not), it is a tiny public reminder that non-white people are undervalued in the eyes of society. They are minor. Less than.
White people are the minority in my home of New York City (they make up 45% of the population). Presumably, people who identify as white are also the minority in the world, but those numbers are trickier to get because there isn’t a global census and when you start asking people who identifies as white things can get real slippery. Asia has 60% of the world population, so by deductive reasoning we can draw the conclusion that white folks are a global racial minority.
My preferred term is people of color. Not only does people-first language acknowledge the shared humanity of the sentence’s subject, it’s convoluted enough that nobody is going to say it by mistake. If you are using the term people of color it is because you were taught to use it (shout out to all the woke people who brought you up) or you’re intentionally making the choice. It’s a tiny act of anti-white superiority.
If you make that choice, I am grateful. If not, prepared for me to be annoyed.