SHIAVON’S JAWN: I am not a person of color — I’m Black

Capitalize the “B” in Black always


Graphic by Brooke Uhlenhop

Shiavon Chatman, Opinion Editor

A jawn. Pronounced jôn. Noun. A person, place, thing, or event that doesn’t need a specific name. An indescribable, but memorable entity.

I’m Shiavon and this is Shiavon’s Jawn. (If these two words don’t rhyme, then you’re saying my name wrong.)

There has never been consistent solidarity among “people of color.” 

It actually doesn’t exist at all. Person of color (POC) is a blanket term for “non-white.” But you can’t lump everyone together because not everyone has the same values and same experiences. 

Asian store owners have opened beauty supply businesses catered 100% to Black people (taking away the opportunity from an actual Black person) in low income areas, charged illegal debit card surcharges and then surveilled Black people like they stole something as they walked through the store.

In 1991, Latasha Harlins was shot and killed in South Los Angeles because she looked suspicious. The store owner assumed she was stealing, so she shot her. 

She wasn’t stealing anything. But walking around with Black skin in a predominantly Black neighborhood made her mistrustful somehow. 

Black people being banned from restaurants in China means mistrust exists to this day.

So as a young woman of Jamaican descent and African ancestors –– I am not a person of color. Please don’t refer to me as one unless you’re trying to undermine the sacrifices and pain of those before me. 

There has been a trend of TikToks flooding all social media platforms. The videos consist of a slew of racial epithets and poorly orchestrated skits with the intent of making fellow racist degenerates laugh. 

These videos vary from jokes about the three-fifths compromise to all the stereotypical components that make up a Black person. 

Zero points for creativity. 

But I’m not here to give attention to people that don’t deserve it. I’m here to explain why I have never referred to myself as a person of color or a woman of color. In the last few years, these terms have popped up everywhere in an attempt to seem inclusive of everyone in the room that’s not white. 

And that’s just not fair. We don’t have shared experiences and we don’t see each other’s successes as a triumph in the right direction. 

It always annoyed me but I was truly fed up when I was sitting in my Black political thought class and a girl was presenting her PowerPoint about abolitionist David Walker. In the presentation she said verbatim, “When the people of color were taken, they were put on slave ships and brought to America.” 

I’m sorry, but I don’t recall people of color taking that long trip on the Transatlantic slave route and being enslaved for over 400 years. I don’t remember but my DMs are open if you have some information that I do not. 

When “Black Panther” came out, so many young Black girls and boys saw a superhero that looked like them for the very first time. They dressed in costumes, had parties and went to see the movie several times. The film grossed over $1.3 billion. 

But not everyone was pleased by this amazing feat. 

RELATED: No Gina, you may not say the n-word

I personally would love to see a film about a Black couple from completely different backgrounds fall in love and then breakup, only for the man to rush through the airport and propose and then they live happily ever after. 

But I understand that asking for one just because of “Crazy Rich Asians” is extremely inappropriate, insensitive and a bit racist to do.

There is no solidarity among a group of people who think the representation of one group is the lack of inclusion of the other.

This isn’t an issue of class within races. Like the rich Black and Latinx folks against the poor Black and Latinx folks. 

You cannot convince me that class is the biggest issue in this country when Black college-educated women receive far worse hospital care than white women who dropped out of high school. 

Race is the biggest deterrent and divider in this country when it comes to employment, housing and medical care. 

And within race being the biggest factor — it’s the teaching of hatred for generations and generations.

Whenever someone reads a nasty headline or watches a show where a character is doing something deplorable, we tend to relate it to the race to which it belongs. 

And it’s not a “white vs people of color” matter. Everybody is looking out for themselves unfortunately. You see something odd or something you don’t understand, you attach it to another group in order to praise the one you belong to. 

We need to unlearn these bad habits. But I’m not saying to forgive them. My ancestors were expected to work alongside and live next to the very subhumans that enslaved them. That’s being a product of your environment and the time period — not the racism. 

Going through a phase of anti-Blackness or some other form of racism has become too common. It’s almost a rite of passage. 

Like, “yeah I used to say the N-word a lot but I’m like a completely different person now.” 

We’re expected to forgive this and give those people space to unlearn these awful habits but Black kids don’t get the luxury of unlearning being the subject of discriminatory jokes or hearing a slur being attached to their skin color. 

Whether you weren’t actually saying the word to someone, you were just rapping — off beat I’m sure — or trying to seem cool. 

Thanks for apologizing but you get no cool points from me. 

So no, I’m not a person of color. And don’t call me one. 

This is my weekly column where I’ll keep you updated on my straight-to-DVD life, my hip-hop snob opinions, being uncomfortable in this political climate and being a Black woman in predominantly white spaces.