Lately I have been hearing the word “colored” used (on Pitzer's campus) loosely and with little regard to its historical heritage and the weight that it holds. I thought I would take this opportunity to shed a bit of light on the history of the word and its connotations.
The word “colored” started being used as a derogatory term during colonization and slavery; the term is meant to insinuate the subservient place of Black individuals. It should not be viewed as a term which parallels “White,” like “Black.” It is a derogatory word that should not be used to refer to the Black community.
During the Jim Crow era, bathrooms, entrances, and water fountains were labeled as the “colored only” or “colored drinking fountains.” The use of the word “colored” was used as a racial slur to refer to and segregate the Black and African-American communities.
Please be aware of your words: they have meaning, history, and weight. Using the word “colored” is in no way a replacement for the statement “people of color.”
During an anthropology class at Scripps, after reading multiple books describing the life of Egyptian parents and the sacrifices they make to raise their children, a white student had the audacity to say American parents care for their children and their education more than Egyptian parents.
An astronomy professor at Keck was about to give back our midterms. The class is large (upwards of 60 students), so the professor had all of the tests on his desk and asked us to come up and take our tests in a civilized manner. To make this point he said, "THIS ISN'T MECCA! DON'T STAMPEDE!" This was precisely two days after over 700 pilgrims were killed in a stampede in Mecca.
After a white student took a picture of some Brown and Black students, the white student advised the Black and Brown students to "filter that shit." The white student meant no harm by this statement, but was totally ignorant of the fact that filters are made for the fairer skin. The Black student had to respond with, "Don't you know filters aren't made for Black and Brown people?"