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Letters to the Editor: How useful is ‘person of color’? Look at the experiences of Black Americans

People protest inside L.A. City Hall on Nov. 1.
People protest inside L.A. City Hall on Nov. 1. over council members heard in a leaked audio making disparaging and racist remarks about Black Angelenos and other groups.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Sandy Banks’ column about dropping the “people of color” label is on target.

I’m white, and my husband of 30 years is Black. Our children are biracial — “ambiguously brown,” says the eldest — each with their own skin color and degree of hair curl. Our middle son, a senior at USC, doesn’t stand out on that campus as he would have elsewhere, but he was still followed by campus police during his first semester, presumably as a suspicious Black character.

Years ago, a stranger who complimented our youngest’s poise and manners expressed surprise when I corrected her assumption that his father was from India. Nope; his law professor dad is really and truly Black.

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People make assumptions about what kind of skin color is better than another. Those assumptions and divisions are embedded and embarrassing — and dangerous. I wish for better for my kids. And theirs.

Paula Chambers, Richmond, Va.

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To the editor: Reading Banks’ column, I am reminded of a sermon my great-grandfather preached in his Presbyterian church in the Finger Lakes region of New York, during the Jim Crow era. Having had parishes in China, Beirut and Florence, he was far more aware of other cultures than the average minister of the late 1800s.

One Sunday he preached that the horrible excesses of Jim Crow had a simple solution. If we were all so intermarried that we all had a dark beige skin color, that would immediately remove a major “marker” of prejudice.

Think about it. If we all had the same skin color, we couldn’t prejudge people based on color alone. Yes, people would still find ways to demean others so they could feel superior, but a major factor would be removed.

He lost his parish over that but was given a much better one.

Meg Quinn Coulter, Los Angeles

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To the editor: In the entire history of the United States, there has been no group that has suffered the consistent bigotry, persecution and systemic prejudice as Black Americans.

It is important that our language reflects this understanding and recognizes this distinction when referring to these minority groups.

Though I still use the term “people of color,” I do not include Black Americans. When referring to these groups collectively, I will use say people of color and Black Americans.

Stu Bernstein, Santa Monica


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