I woke up with a thought of this picture I saw last night. So this morning, I googled how they define a typical race based on skin colours.
Referring to Oxford English Dictionary, it was William Bonde (1526), who firstly used ‘black’ to describe different skin ‘color’ (see The Pilgrimage of Perfection, 1526 vol. 1), pointing at The Moors. Click this site then you find “Moors” is rooted from the word “Maures”, means “dark”. That was how the Greeks called “dark-skinned” Africans.
But wait, hang on. I don’t think Bonde was the first person who used the term ‘black’ for skin tone, but Aristotle was. Aristotle in his writing Physiognomics (2nd century BC) inferred human differences by taking account skin pigmentation into his argument: “Those who are too black are cowards, like for instance, the Egyptians and Ethiopians. But those who are excessively white are also cowards as we can see from the example of women and Europeans, the complexion of courage is between the two.” (Aristotle quoted in Wiki).
(To me this is kinda semiotic play, really haha).
Now about ‘white’ (this makes me hate colonialism even more).
People started to use the term white to describe skin tone difference during British colonialism in America in late 1600s. There were ‘only’ three different colors available at that time: white, Indian and Negro (see Irene Silverblatt, Modern Inquisitions: Peru and the colonial origins of the civilized world, 2004). Although she twisted my brain since white, Indian and Negro – they are not in the same cohort.
It was then Carolus Linnaeus, who in 1758 established ‘what amazing’ taxonomy categories of the human species. He distinguished human species by – guess what? Yes. Skin tone difference: white Europeans, red Americans, yellow Asians and black Africans. His pioneered work then triggered ‘scholars’ to legalize what ever they could/can to post themselves into superior positions and therefore to subordinate others. You can trace how his-story has recorded these pointless efforts your self. Please do.
Anyway – it is very famous then in United States (America) to use terminology people of color to describe people with similar common oppressive experience because they are not WHITE. So, ‘people of color’ stands for all non-white communities. Check this wiki.
Now the funny part.
Do you know that black is not even a color? Hahahaha!
The fact, black is the absence of colors. DANG! While there is a never ending debate whether white is color or not. When we talk about wavelength – then white is visible light spectrum. White is combination all possible colors of the visible light spectrum to our eyes. Some scientists decide white is a color. Some others prefer to say white is (spectrum of) light, not color.
But, black is totally not a color.
You can proof it, please read this site about wavelength and light spectrum.
So, why it is people of color to describe ‘black’, when black is not even a color? Why white is non people of color – to consider white is a color?
To me then, to say “people of color” might be politically correct, but fraudulent reasoning. Then I remember reading this poem years ago, which exactly expresses what I meant about black and white as ‘colors’.
When I born, I black
When I grow up, I black
When I go in Sun, I black
When I scared, I black
When I sick, I black
And when I die, I still black
And you white fellow
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow
When you sick, you green
And when you die, you grey
And you calling me colored
(written by an African kid – the best UN poem 2006).
I borrowed Colorful Dance from this site.