Quantcast

Don't Call Me 'BIPOC' When You Mean 'BLACK'

Say Black with a capital B or say nothing at all.

Her Voice

Recently, the acronym BIPOC has been used when addressing issues surrounding Black Lives Matter, and the Black experience overall. I noticed the trend after the murder of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man killed in Minneapolis during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit bill that resulted in him being pinned to the ground by former officer Derek Chauvin who kept his knee on Floyd's neck for at least eight minutes and 46 seconds while he spoke the same words Eric Garner did as he died at the hands of police, "I can't breathe."

When companies and communities began to speak out and demand justice for the senseless murder and biases that we face in this country, the term 'BIPOC' was at the helm of many conversations. It led me to wonder who exactly they're talking to and why again the Black community has to adapt to yet another name change?

It's enough as an African-American to unpack that I'm African without memory, and American without privilege, and now I'm expected to take time out of my Black day to Google this foolishness?

After some research, I discovered that BIPOC stands for "Black, Indigenous and People of Color". According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase, "people of color" dates back centuries — it was first cited in The Oxford English Dictionary, with the British spelling "colour," in 1796 — and is often abbreviated as POC. Additionally, The New York Times reported that Black and Indigenous was included by Cynthia Frisby, a professor of strategic communication at the Missouri School of Journalism.

While I understand the desire to advocate for multiple groups, and the importance of the acknowledgment of Indigenous people, and people of color, the BIPOC community promotes the inclusion of all people of color who have been mistreated, misrepresented, and discriminated against and unites marginalized communities on more significant issues that hurt all non-white individuals. When you address a group of people that includes Black and Indigenous people of color, that term is acceptable. When you are advocating for issues Black and Indendegous people of color, that term is acceptable. Police brutality, however, is not one of them - it impacts Black, Latinx, and Native-American communities specifically.

Quite frankly, I want our community, and those who desire to hold space for us to know that in order to do that, they need to say Black with a Capital B. The term is the new People of Color, it's palatable. Many of us have had to unlearn the need to say 'people of color' when they desire to say Black, including myself.

Still, after hearing another Black women address issues impacting our community specifically, and use the acronym, I thought that maybe I was being dramatic and questioned if I had unlearning to do. Days later, as I sat with my thoughts, the heroes of Black Twitter reminded me that my experience and perspective were valid as I felt silenced by trending terms.

The entire world had to shut down for this county to finally begin paying attention to the preservation of Black life, and we can't even have that?

This isn't to say that there shouldn't be spaces where the BIPOC community comes together. However, we deserve to take up space in conversations that impact us more than any other race, and we shouldn't feel the need to apologize for that.

Saying BIPOC when that's not who you wish to target allows this county to continue to avoid the harm that it's done to us, and it drowns out the Black community's cries. As a Black woman in this county, whose Great-Grandmother was Native-American and the first generation to move off of her reservation, I am well aware of the struggles that other groups face. This call-to-action is to not dismiss Indigenous people and people of color that have their own individual inequalities that they fight for.

This is to ask that just as Black people do not attach ourselves to those issues, do not lump us all together when discussing who is disproportionately shot, killed, and put in jail at the hands of police.

Doing so is beyond lazy, it's dismissive, and moreover it tells us that you don't think about what impacts us to the same magnitude as you do when other groups are involved. This country has 400 years worth of conversations specifically for Black people.

Now more than ever, we need to make sure we take up space, specifically for us.

Featured image by Shutterstock

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

This article is in partnership with Starz.

Listen. We all love a good rerun of Sex and the City, but the ghosts of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda can go ahead and rest. There's finally a new, formidable foursome further uptown—Harlem that is—and they've taken the fashion, sex, and sister-girlfriend drama to entertainingly engaging new levels. Trust me, Starz's new series Run the World is the ode to Black femininity, friendship, and NYC flavor we all need right now. And if you haven't been tuned in on Sunday nights at 8:30 p.m., you're truly missing out.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

In xoNecole's Our First Year series, we take an in-depth look at love and relationships between couples with an emphasis on what their first year of marriage was like.

Do you remember the first time you fell in love? It is this indescribable feeling that takes over your body without warning. The lucky ones get to experience this feeling more than once in their lifetime. Regardless, if this feeling lasted for forever or just for a moment, we will always remember the person who made us feel this way. When you experience love, yes we are physically attracted to that person, but it's deeper than that. Love is about accepting someone for who they are on the inside and wanting to share your life with them.

Keep reading... Show less

Ladies and ladies: if you aren't familiar, let me introduce you to a being named Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. He's an Emmy award-winning actor, 35, and towering at 6 feet 3 inches tall. His name, which roughly translates from Arabic and means "Graced by God," may be unfamiliar for Black men in Hollywood, but he's carving out his lane just the same.

Keep reading... Show less

Summer is finally here and we're seeing the latest in this season's biggest trends exploding everywhere. Excitedly exiting the cold and gloomy winter months, fashion girls everywhere are taking advantage of the coolest new and re-emerging styles for the warm weather season. With there being much anticipation to finally be outside after a year and a half, I've seen so many new and refreshing styles to add to my closet in anticipation of a stylish summer like never before.

Keep reading... Show less

To say that Lori Harvey's love life has been in the driver's seat of her career is a massive understatement. She's been linked to many, claiming few, and taking a page out of Beyonce's book in the process, by simply not addressing any of the chatter at all. In fact, up until now, the usually private mogul's only job was to be the beautifully radiant famous daughter of Steve Harvey, and keep us all guessing without an ounce of clarity on who is who, and what's next for any of them. But now, sis is stepping out and speaking up on all of the above.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Michelle Williams On Depression, Healing & Why It’s Important To Check In With Yourself

"Now, the only label I've got that matters is God's: God's creation. God's work. God's child."

Latest Posts