It’s time to retire ‘People of Color’

Frank CagleFrank Talk

When the term People of Color came into general use, I found it a disturbing reminder of the “colored” segregation signs of my youth, on water fountains and public accommodations. My kids explained that it wasn’t the same thing. I’ve come to agree with them. It’s worse.


People of Color is an effort to lump all the ethnic groups that make up America into a monolithic group being oppressed by the white patriarchy. Democratic analysts salivate at the thought that white people will be a minority going forward and demographics will kill off the Republican Party.

Frank Cagle

This presidential election demonstrated the flaws in this theory.

Some black activists have begun to argue that People of Color is an effort to erase black culture and black history. Between slavery, Jim Crow laws, segregation, lynching and voter suppression no group in America has been more persecuted. To group blacks in a category with Asian-Americans is ridiculous on its face. Asian-Americans are the richest ethnic group in America. Prestigious universities have had to scrap merit-based admissions in order to discriminate against Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese students.

The election results revealed that white Cuban-Americans in Miami were not part of a monolithic group that puts them with Mexican-Americans in Arizona. They were more concerned about “progressives” favoring socialism and defunding the police than a Wall in South Texas.

Surveys reveal that so-called “Hispanics” prefer to be identified by country of origin: Dominican-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Guatemalan-Americans. Hispanic is a term invented for the Census Bureau to lump together all Spanish-speaking ethnic groups, as if they are all the same. Successful Mexican-Americans consider themselves proud members of the American middle class. They resent being lumped in with illegal immigrants or being considered “colored.”

The Democrats’ “blue wave” didn’t happen because the Democrats depended on playing ethnic politics, relying on their made-up definitions of People of Color as a monolithic group that would all vote for Democrats. It didn’t happen because the Democrats didn’t give them a reason to vote for Democrats. They lost House seats and did not capture the Senate. Joe Biden won an election in which Donald Trump shouldn’t have even been close. Trump increased his vote among Mexican-Americans, black voters and gays. He carried Miami and thus the state of Florida.

Talking heads can’t understand why any minority groups would vote for Donald Trump. Maybe it’s because they like low unemployment and a roaring stock market or they fear socialized medicine and taking away their health insurance. Or they depend on the police to keep their neighborhoods safe.

U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, D-South Carolina, is credited with endorsing Joe Biden and bringing Southern Blacks to the polls to rescue Biden’s struggling primary election campaign. Clyburn made a stinging speech telling Democrats that the defunding police rhetoric would cost the Democrats dearly. (Yes, I know you can use nuance to explain defunding police as police reform, but nuance doesn’t fit on a bumper sticker.)

I agree with just about anything you can say about Trump’s flaws, but throughout his term he has come across as the advocate of the working people. It is condescending in the extreme for “progressives” not to realize that the majority of their People of Color are working people, not welfare recipients.

Since the Democrats are tone deaf on the issue, the Republican Party needs to understand that stupid bigoted rhetoric against ethnic groups that want nothing more than to blend into the great American middle class and ensure a good life for their children are your natural allies. Chinese-Americans are here because they fled the brutal communist dictators that oppress the Chinese people. South American refugees are escaping communist dictators in their country.

It is a convenient short-hand for the chattering classes to talk about People of Color, but it should be apparent that it is not one group agreeing on all the issues or are automatically enthusiastic Democrats. Not when the Democrats are the party of academia, the professional class, the media and Silicon Valley. The Democrats got back enough of the “blue wall” of working-class voters in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania this time for Biden to eke out the win. But if they don’t want to lose them again, they need to stop taking the folks in “fly-over country” for granted.

And retire People of Color and Hispanics as made-up categories for average Americans. Be specific about whom you are talking. There is no reason for Trump to come so close to re-election except for political malpractice on behalf of the Democrats.

Wild turnout: Last week we wondered if 90 percent of Knox County voters cast ballots absentee and early voting or whether there would be a huge influx of new voters. The turnout of 220,000 voters set a record.

How do you improve margin? The Republican super majority in the state legislature will be redrawing districts when census results come in. The Republicans held on to every Republican House seat using the current district lines. They did lose one Senate seat in heavily Democratic Nashville. Democrats hold two Congressional seats, in Memphis and Nashville, and there may be an effort to redraw those lines. But they have to put the Democrats somewhere and incumbent Republicans will object to Democrats being added to their safe seat.

Frank Cagle is a veteran newspaper editor and columnist.

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