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Is 'People of Color' Offensive?

A reader asks if "people of color" is the appropriate terminology to define a diverse population. What does the White Guy think?

Luke Visconti's Ask the White Guy column is a top draw on DiversityInc.com. Visconti, the founder and CEO of DiversityInc, is a nationally recognized leader in diversity management. In his popular column, readers who ask Visconti tough questions about race/culture, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age can expect smart, direct and disarmingly frank answers.


Question:

Is "people of color" the right terminology to describe a diverse population?

Answer:

In my opinion, "people of color" is an effective way to describe non-white people in the United States. One can correctly argue that "white" people are people of color, or that some Latinos are white; however, unless the goal is to endlessly argue semantics, it's more useful to use a common phrase to describe people who are commonly thought of as not being white by the white majority in this country.

"People of color" is a respectful-sounding phrase, it's in common use, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the phrase "citizens of color" in his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech.

Ultimately, I think we must all recognize that the conversation revolves around imaginary differences. There is only one human race and we are all originally from Africa. That's not a concept that the majority in any culture gives into easily, however, so I think there's much to be gained by using a simple and well-recognized phrase that everyone can understand.

I want to point out that in the almost ten years of publishing DiversityInc, I've heard endless arguments from progressive people about nomenclature. It's tiresome, boring and counterproductive. You can call it diversity or inclusion or popcorn—as soon as the bigots figure out the code, they're going to denigrate the word. By sticking to standard phraseology, we keep the discussion pointed toward progress rather than log rolling ourselves into irrelevance.

Alaska Airlines Under Fire for Separating Gay Couple on Flight to Give Seats to Heterosexual Couple

"We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane," David Cooley said in a Facebook post.

FACEBOOK

Alaska Airlines is apologizing for an act of blatant discrimination against a same-sex couple, but the damage is already done as #BoycottAlaskaAirlines is circulating social media.

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Howard Schultz Steps Down as Chairman of Starbucks

From the #RaceMatters campaign in 2015 to optional racial-sensitivity training last week, Starbucks is failing in diversity and inclusion.

REUTERS

Howard Schultz is stepping down as executive chairman of Starbucks, the company announced in a press release Monday.

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Two Different Cups of Joe: How The Coffee Bean and Starbucks Handled Racism

In an age of increasing racial confrontations, a business must have zero tolerance for discrimination.

In the Trump era, there has been a proliferation of Islamophobic and racist incidents across the country. When discrimination occurs at a place of business, it's apparent if the company's leadership and workforce support diversity and inclusion. A Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café barista refused to serve a racist customer; meanwhile, a white manager at a Starbucks called the police on two Black men for no reason.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Executives from Nielsen, New York Life, TIAA and Toyota Motor North America talk about communicating their commitment to D&I management and backing it up with actions that get results.

At the 2018 DiversityInc Top 50 event, more than 400 people were in attendance during the day to hear best practices on effectively managing diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Luke Visconti, CEO, DiversityInc

Panelists:

  • Angela Talton, Chief Diversity Officer, Nielsen
  • Kathleen Navarro, VP & Chief Diversity Officer, New York Life
  • Steve Larson, Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion, TIAA
  • Adrienne Trimble, General Manager, Diversity & Inclusion, Toyota Motor North America

We White People Need to Own This

Martin Luther King has been dead for 50 years and Donald Trump is our president. Who is responsible?

REUTERS

We will be deluged by Martin Luther King articles and columns today. Some will be excellent, like the one Rev. Jesse Jackson wrote. But most will be saccharine sweet and not say what needs to be said.

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A Latina trailblazer, Lisa Garcia Quiroz, senior vice president and chief diversity officer at Time Warner Inc., and president of the Time Warner Foundation, died Friday at age 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. An advocate of diversity and inclusion, education and the arts, Quiroz created a dynamic legacy.

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The Chief of Staff Needs to Get Off His Privileged Racist Ass and Do Some Homework

And his draft-dodging boss needs to put his juvenile visions of military dictatorship out of his head.

REUTERS

There have been many disturbing days over the past year. I found yesterday to be particularly troubling. Chief of Staff John Kelly called people who had not already signed up for DACA to be "too lazy to get off their asses."

Our journalist, Kaitlyn D'Onofrio, wrote a very good story about this.

I was emotionally rocked to learn from her article that it costs $495 to sign up for DACA. I didn't know.

I think there are times in most people's lives where $495 is simply a bridge too far. Can you imagine being in another country, brought there as a child, without documents? What kind of job would you have? How much money would you have in your pocket? Not being able to open a bank account — having to hide your little savings someplace while you work at your menial job. $495 is a HUGE amount of money.

I'm embarrassed that I didn't know about the application fee. The chief of staff for the president of the United States has no excuse, especially when he's going to be a racist and demean an entire group of people that lives among us. There are days when I feel embarrassed to be an American.

Aside from this debacle yesterday, draft-dodging Trump also told our military he wants a grand military parade. (Trump is also known as Cadet Bone Spurs, a great nickname coined by former assault helicopter pilot Sen. Tammy Duckworth.)

The founders of this country were against a standing army — James Madison: "A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."

This was on his mind because our country had just beaten the global superpower (England). Here is our Third Amendment: "No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

Why was this the Third Amendment? The British would kick your door in, throw you out on the street and put their troops in your house, anytime they felt like it.

I have served our military, in several capacities, for most of my adult life. I think a military parade in Washington, other than to celebrate the end of a war, is anti-American; Trump is either talking out of ignorance or simply lying about the strength of our military. At one-third the size it currently is, it would still be the planet's largest military by far. His focus on nuclear weapons makes me believe that unilateral nuclear disarmament is the only safe way for our planet to proceed.

If Donald J. Trump doesn't make you a believer in that philosophy, you're not paying attention. Most people aren't. Let's face it, we can't intimidate a backwards hermitage nation with 1/1200th of our GDP. Something is seriously wrong with our leadership and how we're spending money.

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Papa John's CEO Fired After Criticizing NFL Players and Becoming Loved by Nazis

John Schnatter is axed by the board. Crappy pizza, not protests about law enforcement injustice, to blame for declining sales.

John Schnatter, founder of Papa John's International and basher of NFL protests and the Affordable Care Act, will step down as chief executive weeks after the brand was coined the "official pizza of the alt-right."

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