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    7 Reasons Why Referring To People Of Color As "Minorities" Is Racist

    The steady refusal by white Americans to acknowledge this country's current and impending shifts in racial composition by constantly referring to people of color as "minorities" leaves me no choice but to conclude that this practice is, well, racist. Here are seven reasons why.​

    ​On a daily basis communities of color must navigate the labeling, negotiation, and definition of various racial, ethnic, and national identities. All of this is complex. One might identify as Black, African American, or Afro Caribbean; one might identify as all three. Asian Americans comprise Southeast Asians, East Asians, South Asians and Pacific Islanders. And there are the broad stroke labels of Latino, Hispanic, Native American, and Arab American, each carrying significant political and social meaning.

    The lack of uniformity has even compelled white people to weigh in. In case you were wondering, whites show a strong preference for "African-American" over "Black" and assign the requisite negative stereotypes, characteristics and biases to Blackness.

    In the context of our really-far-from-ever-being-post-racial society, however, one name people of color seldom call themselves is "minorities" – yet this stamp is the hardest to rub off. The steady refusal by white Americans to acknowledge this country's current and impending shifts in racial composition leaves me no choice but to conclude that referring to people of color as "minorities" is, well, racist. Here are seven reasons why.​

    1. Because it’s plain old inaccurate.

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    With changing demographics, people of color will soon be the majority in America. And don’t look now, but in many states, they already are! Yet we still can’t shake the minority label, spawning the oxymoronic “majority-minority” in the media, in research and now a part of the lexicon. The insistence on terms like “majority-minority” only signals the resistance to affording majority status to people of color.

    2. Because it lacks precision.

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    Women outnumber men in the U.S., but we don’t refer to men as a “minority.” That we only use this sloppy label for groups of people who are not afforded dignity, humanity, and power in our society is very telling.

    3. Because it’s so much easier to just dismiss and overlook a “minority,” isn’t it?

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    Or expect that the “minority” will accommodate and adapt to the majority’s wishes and whims. Words have meaning and can assign power. We live in a democracy. And in a democracy, “majority rules.” Especially in many of our central-cities, when the true majority is cast in a diminished light, it has implications for social and economic policy, programs, and practices.

    4. Because “minority” is never used to describe white people.

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    Let me repeat: Never. Ever. Even when they are the minority! For instance, I live in Providence, Rhode Island, which is 38 percent white, but we all know when anyone refers to “minorities in Providence” they aren’t talking about white people.

    5. Because it demonstrates an unspoken commitment to whites as the “majority.”

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    Your continued use of “minority” clearly means that you missed the memo, which is likely just a sign of your privilege. As you continue to dismiss the argument for using “majority” for people of color where it applies, consider why. Might your ownership and entitlement to the word be a product of your privilege? And just because its usage is widespread or “your Black friends say it too,” does not negate my point. Widespread use of a racist term in a racist society hardly seems like a good reason to cosign.

    6. Because the aforementioned all reinforce white supremacist ideology.

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    Racism is about privileging white people systemically and is predicated upon the notion that white people are somehow superior to other racial groups. The issues behind these reasons, at their core, functionally work to maintain the privileged status of white people as the “majority.”

    7. Because, what are you so afraid of?

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    You should not really need seven reasons to question your use of the word “minority” in reference to people of color. So, pick two or three and run with them, as you work to actually say what you mean without marginalizing and offending this country's growing majority.

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