What Racial Descriptor Do I Use?

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What racial descriptors do you use in order to be inclusive?

If you are anything like me, then you know that sometimes knowing what to say is tricky, especially if you want to make sure that you get things right. Where are my Type A’s at?

Here’s what I’ve learned: as someone that has been doing intentional racial justice work for the past seven years, I have had to own that I will need to get comfortable with the fact that I am going to fail forward. So will you. That being said, this is not permission to get lazy with your commitment to educate yourself. Instead, learn how to make mistakes, own it, ask to repair harm, and fail forward.

Something that has been helpful for me is to examine how, as language shifts, what language I am using and why.

Currently, some common racial descriptors that are used are:

  • People of Color (POC)
  • Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC)
  • People of Culture
  • People in the Global Majority
  • Folx of ColorFolx of Culture
  • Women of Color
  • Womxn of Color
  • Womxn of Culture.

Maybe you’ve heard of some of them. Maybe you are unfamiliar with some. Write down what you don’t know, and look it up. Here’s a quick assignment: Do you know what the “x” stands for in ‘women‘ or ‘folx’? What about in LatinX? Google these words and share with a friend what you’ve learned.

Personally, I know that I center my writing around education about anti-Black racism, and Black joy.

When I discuss racism with a multi-ethnic, multi-racial crowd, I try to be as specific and inclusive possible and deploy positive language. “Folx in the Global Majority,” does that for me because it centers a new narrative: the abundance of our population and the broad spectrum of our intersections.

However, anti-Blackness is a global epidemic, and I remain unapologetic about naming that (American) Black and Indigenous womxn (specifically) have specific and different needs which require consistent amplification, elevation, and visibilization.

That means when I talk about Black womxn needs, I name it as racially specific.

One thing that is important to remember is to stay connected to social justice and racial justice groups.

Part of the reason that language shifts is because we are attempting to attend to and name the disparities which have historically been largely invisible in the mainstream.

Learning to listen to others that are committed to doing the work, and attempting to find language which allows space for all people to show up with their full selves is part of this work. staying connected reminds us that our struggles are interconnected, and allows us to find our way together so that we can all get free. This language gives us tools to recognize each other’s full selves.

What language do you resonate with and why?

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