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VIDEO: Is 'POC' Outdated? Maybe. But It Also Has A Measurable Superpower

On the Code Switch podcast, we often use the term "people of color." And it's not something we thought a ton about until the Black Lives Matter protests reignited in May, and we saw a refrain across social media, particularly among Black people: Stop calling me a person of color.

Many felt that people using the term POC were (intentionally or not) sidestepping the truth: that certain effects of racism — things like mass incarceration, police violence, inability to access good health care — disproportionately affect Black and Indigenous people. Not all "people of color."

The popularization of BIPOC only furthered the debate. Was this relatively newer term highlighting the particular experiences of Black and Indigenous folks? Or was it an homage to wokeness with no real teeth?

Even terms that have been created with the best of intentions can morph in meaning. We asked academics, writers and our listeners some big questions: What do we mean when we say "people of color"? Why do some of us identify with that term? Why does it annoy so many other people? Is it time to say R.I.P. to POC? And, if so, is BIPOC the new kid on the block?

In this video episode of Code Switch, we interview political psychologist Efrén Pérez, activist and educator Amber Starks, and organizer Mónica Rámirez.

We've got a deeper dive into all this on our podcast episode here.

You can listen to the Code Switch podcast on NPR One, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts and RSS.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Shereen Marisol Meraji is the co-host and senior producer of NPR's Code Switch podcast. She didn't grow up listening to public radio in the back seat of her parent's car. She grew up in a Puerto Rican and Iranian home where no one spoke in hushed tones, and where the rhythms and cadences of life inspired her story pitches and storytelling style. She's an award-winning journalist and founding member of the pre-eminent podcast about race and identity in America, NPR's Code Switch. When she's not telling stories that help us better understand the people we share this planet with, she's dancing salsa, baking brownies or kicking around a soccer ball.
CJ Riculan
CJ Riculan is a self-taught animator and designer for NPR Video. She is currently the art director and lead producer for NPR Music's The Formula, a series that takes you inside the creative process of unique hip-hop producers.
Nick Michael is the Acting Supervising Editor for Video at NPR. He joined NPR in 2014 as the lead video producer for Jazz Night in America, NPR's first program with companion radio and video content. Jazz Night's 2017 portfolio earned a Peabody nomination and a Webby Award for Online Film & Video. Since then, he has co-managed the growth of NPR's award-winning video team, highlights of which include co-crafting the look of NPR's signature interviews with President Obama, leading NPR's experimentation with 360 video and audio and coordinating 22 filmmakers across the country to document 2017's solar eclipse. Before NPR, Michael co-founded 1504, a creative video studio now based in Birmingham, Ala. He earned a masters in photojournalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Alyssa Jeong Perry
Kumari Devarajan
Libby Yi