• Elite News

We are Black Women. Stop calling us women of color

Updated: Sep 16

The convenient catchall “women of color” (WOC) is an easy descriptor in a world obsessed with shorthand and acronyms. But, as Black women, we stiffen. The phrase evokes the subtlety and complexity of identities erased over the span of 401 years.

At the same time, the term obscures the varied realities of Latinas and Asian, Pacific Islander and Indigenous women. We all become an amorphous monochrome, our multidimensional heritages and ancestries neutralized. Ironically, the WOC terminology was coined by Black women in the late 1970s as a rejection of the disparaging label “minority.” Similar to notions of “post-racial” and "colorblind," the term “WOC” negates racial identity in the service of racial unity. Over time, the contrast has become not one of multiethnicities but simply a White/non-White binary.

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