Walter Johnson, Soul by soul: life inside the antebellum slave market
This is the type of violence—from microaggressions to epistemic violence to emotional/physical violence to enslavement/genocide—that gets justified by asserting that the oppressor is “objective” and “logical” and thereby “credible.” As if there is objectivity in choosing to oppress. As if the emotions of entitlement, indifference, greed or hatred aren’t involved.
We recently got an ask from someone who was wondering if we could (privately) please explain the difference between saying “colored people” and “people of color.” This, in tandem with the amount of asks we’ve gotten where people use the term “colored person” I thought it was important to make this clear for why we don’t like this term. And even though this is easily Google-able, we’re sick and tired of seeing people using this in our askbox so here’s a one stop source.
The term “colored people” has been around for a loooooong time. White people used it to mean anyone who was nonwhite, but was mostly used to refer to black people in a derogatory and patronizing way. “Colored people” was invented by white people in order to be Othering and discriminatory. Now we understand the term means something different in some places, but when we hear/refer to this term, the definition we just gave you is the one that matters to us.
The term “people of color” as we use it today is much more recent, gaining popularity in the 1970s and 1980s in order to mean any person who is nonwhite. Franz Fanon is often credited as first using the term in order to talk about racism in a more inclusive way. “People of color” as we know it was coined in order to connect “minorities” (ugh) in order to celebrate our differences while acknowledging the racism and prejudices that we all face.
Some people do not like the term PoC because it can be erasing if individual groups and people, but I think it’s more about being in solidarity with one another. It is a term that we have created and that we chose to identify as. Sometimes PoC use the term “colored people” to refer to themselves or their works (like Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf) and that’s okay because that’s our word to reclaim and our word to use.
But at the end of the day if someone is asking you not to call them something because it is offensive then do not call them that. We do not want to be referred to as “colored women,” and will delete any ask that comes at us using the term “colored people.” So stop using it.
- the mods
It’s looking like I need to post something about this again…
mickiperspicacious submitted to medievalpoc:
Hi medievalpoc! Great blog, been following for a while now. It’s really helped me become more aware of diverse representation not only in medieval and Renaissance art, but in all aspects of modern society as well. (As an English teacher, I especially loved Fiction Week!)
Just one example — while preparing for a lecture on early American journalism, I searched the Library of Congress website for photos of people setting type (as they did in the “old days” for newspapers). At first I found a bunch of photos of white men typesetters, but I decided I wanted to look further. As it turns out, at the bottom of the page was a photo of three black students setting type for a student newspaper in Washington, D.C. in 1942! I was very pleased and was reminded of this blog. Keep on doing what you do!
P.S. I know this isn’t related to medieval/renaissance art, but I thought I’d share anyway, or at least let you know that your blog has inspired people in many different ways!
Thank you for the kind words and this great submission!
It’s been my hope that even people outside art/history disciplines can find inspiration here, to look and think critically about how people of color are (or aren’t) represented in their disciplines (or media they’re interested in). The more people who do this sort of thinking and questioning, the closer we are to seeing a real change. Where it’s in the way that museum displays are set up, what authors we choose as “examples” of genres, or even just making google image searches more inclusive, taking the time to look a little further is almost always going to be worth it.
Thank you again.