What does BIPOC Stand For?

Here's Why You Should considering using the Term to be more Inclusive

There’s a long history behind the way people of color have been labeled. For centuries, we have been called discriminatory names. Over time, we started to reclaim so many words that were an attempt to alienate us and bring us down. 

While we’ve been accustomed to using the term people of color (POC) to describe many from around the world, there’s an emerging term that has begun to gain momentum in an effort to be more inclusive and bring more individuals into the conversation. 

The term BIPOC represents Black, Indigenous and People of Color. According to The BIPOC Project, it’s a way of building a collective community and “undoing Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantling white supremacy and advancing racial justice.” 

So why should we use BIPOC over POC? Using the term promotes the inclusion of all people of color who have also been mistreated, misrepresented and discriminated against for the color of their skin, their culture or their way of life. It unites marginalized communities together, uplifts their voices and highlights all multiracial backgrounds in a way that doesn’t erase the identities of other people of color like Black and Indigenous people. 

But, is it bad to just use POC? No, but keep in mind that some stories, issues or representations exclude Black and Indigenous people. Sometimes the word POC can be perceived that all people of color (Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, etc.) have the same exact experiences with injustice. 

OK, but if I’m Black, can I just say I’m Black? Yes. It’s important to note that BIPOC is not a way of steering the focus off of the social movement fighting to stop police brutality and discrimination against Black men, women and children. BIPOC is a way of staying inclusive on bigger issues that hurt all non-white individuals. 

Organizations like The BIPOC Project are striving to inform and create these spaces to learn more about this acronym. There will always be new words or phrases, but the important thing is to continue to move towards a more mindful and inclusive society and here’s a great way to start.


2014 - Debby Irving

For twenty-five years, Debby Irving sensed inexplicable racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. As a colleague and neighbor, she worried about offending people she dearly wanted to befriend. As an arts administrator, she didn't understand why her diversity efforts lacked traction. As a teacher, she found her best efforts to reach out to students and families of color left her wondering what she was missing. Then, in 2009, one "aha!" moment launched an adventure of discovery and insight that drastically shifted her worldview and upended her life plan. In Waking Up White, Irving tells her often cringe-worthy story with such openness that readers will turn every page rooting for her-and ultimately for all of us.

The hidden rules of race: Barriers to an inclusive economy

Studies in stratification economics: ECONOMICS AND SOCIAL IDENTITY

Why do black families own less than white families? Why does school segregation persist decades after Brown v. Board of Education? Why is it harder for black adults to vote than for white adults? Will addressing economic inequality solve racial and gender inequality as well? This book answers all of these questions and more by revealing the hidden rules of race that create barriers to inclusion today. While many Americans are familiar with the histories of slavery and Jim Crow, we often don't understand how the rules of those eras undergird today's economy, reproducing the same racial inequities 150 years after the end of slavery and 50 years after the banning of Jim Crow segregation laws. This book shows how the fight for racial equity has been one of progress and retrenchment, a constant push and pull for inclusion over exclusion. By understanding how our economic and racial rules work together, we can write better rules to finally address inequality in America.

Allyship fatigue” is an insult to Black folks who never get to rest

by SHERRONDA J. BROWN JUNE 19, 2020 - Black Youth Project

I’ve been nursing the same headache for over a week and my right eye has been twitching for days on end. My eyes burn as I write this. Sometimes my eyelids feel so heavy it hurts to blink. I might be on the verge of tears, but I honestly can’t even tell anymore. There are times when I don’t even realize I’m crying until I feel the wetness on my face. 

Sleep is elusive, it has been for many years now. “Simple” things like getting out of bed, showering, or eating my first meal of the day before the sun begins to set are a constant battle. I’ve come to accept a base level of pain and exhaustion. It radiates behind my eyes like a low hum. It lives in my chest, too. My entire body feels heavy. Every day. 

RELATED: Mental health treatment is a Black tradition, white people just took credit for it

I am not well. I don’t have any diagnoses, but I know what this is. Trauma, depression, anxiety, fatigue. From surviving white supremacy, and capitalism, and fascism, all of the things they beget and the many ways they converge. These forces work together to ensure that people like me will never be rested or “healthy.”

The more I have learned about white supremacy and how it operates, the worse my afflictions have gotten. I am becoming more and more unwell. Constant waves of anti-Blackness leave me feeling simultaneously emptied and overflowing with emotion. I know that many of, if not all, the Black people I love can relate. 

This week, I read about “allyship fatigue.” Apparently, white folks are tired of being anti-racist now. They are feeling stretched too thin after less than a month of actively fighting racism. They signed some petitions, they posted black boxes on social media, they made some donations, they shared videos of police misconduct and brutality, they went to a few protests and made clever or poignant signs. 

Some even joined in with abolitionist calls to defund the police. Others loudly demanded the arrest of Breonna Taylor’s killers. Some read books, or at least started to. Some joined mailing lists and followed a slew of Black journalists and creators on social media. Some issued apologies for not doing any of this before. Maybe some did a bit more, maybe some did a bit less. 

They’ve been in solidarity with Black people, many for the first time in their entire lives, for barely three weeks. And now they have “allyship fatigue.” I don’t know who coined this term. I don’t know why or to what end, and I really don’t care to. What I do know is that it’s a term that attempts to center white people and white feelings in the conversation about demanding an end to Black genocide. 

Of course it makes us tired to fight oppression. White supremacy makes it so. It helps ensure that we have less time and less energy to be able to do it. Of course it’s tiring to dedicate yourself to a cause for other people’s lives. That’s what happens when you allow yourself to find and feel empathy. 

“Allyship fatigue” really just feels like an unnecessary term to coin and utilize, especially right now. It seems like yet another way of coddling white people, to talk softly to them and hold their hand through this rather than just letting them fully feel what is barely even a modicum of what has been gripping Black folks for centuries. 

It’s an insult to Black folks who will never not be exhausted. What we feel is beyond bodily fatigue, it’s spiritual collapse. We have no choice but to feel it and to keep pushing through it for our own survival and with hope that we can one day thrive. Black people have no choice but to fight, and our fight begins before we are even old enough to fully grasp the systemic oppressions we experience and it will last for our entire lives. 

White people should also feel like they have no choice but to fight. They should feel responsible and duty-bound to resolve what they unfairly benefit from. But they don’t feel this responsibility, and it’s why they are so eager to embrace a term like “allyship fatigue” to make themselves into sufferers for doing what they should have always been doing. 

RELATED: Black people aren’t resistant to mental health treatment. We’re resistant to framing it as a cure

As long as there is white supremacy, being Black will be debilitating. White supremacy literally impacts our water, our air, our soil. We live and die in the clutches of capitalism, environmental racism, medical racism, scientific racism, socio-economic disparity, food apartheid. Each of these tools of white supremacy steals our energy, directly impacts our bodies, and leaves us drained. This is by design. 

We carry our mental scars with us through our day and in our work. We drag ourselves out from wherever we lay our heads and we carry these scars with us to the protests, as we riot, as we write, as we educate, as we organize. This, too, impacts our physical health. This, too, is by design. 

Black people don’t have time to rest. White supremacy and its agents do not want us to. And because of that, we will never be able to achieve “health.” Living under the constant pollution of white supremacy is debilitating. We’re literally trying to eradicate genocide while surviving it. Forgive me if I don’t have any fucks left to give about white people being tired. 

the Tipping Point

How Little things make a big difference

Discover Malcolm Gladwell's breakthrough debut and explore the science behind viral trends in business, marketing, and human behavior.

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire. Just as a single sick person can start an epidemic of the flu, so too can a small but precisely targeted push cause a fashion trend, the popularity of a new product, or a drop in the crime rate. This widely acclaimed bestseller, in which Malcolm Gladwell explores and brilliantly illuminates the tipping point phenomenon, is already changing the way people throughout the world think about selling products and disseminating ideas.

6 Things white people say that highlight their privilege

If you want to be an ally in the fight against racism, start by acknowledging your white privilege. Then take action that supports the Black community.

Feminist scholar and anti-racism educator Peggy McIntosh famously described white privilege as an “invisible weightless knapsack of special provisions, maps, passports, codebooks, visas, clothes, tools and blank checks.”

In other words, white people typically move through life unaware of all the head starts, resources and access the color of their skin affords them. They don’t recognize these unearned advantages until they’re pointed out — and even then, some white people will try to deny the existence of their privilege.

It should be noted that merely acknowledging your white privilege isn’t enough — but it is one small and necessary step toward taking action and wielding that privilege to help dismantle the systems that oppress the Black community and other people of color in this country.

We talked to educators, activists, therapists and professors about the things white people often say that highlight their privilege without them realizing it.

1. “It’s not my job to fix racism because I’m not racist.”

What you’re essentially saying is that because the systemic racism doesn’t hurt you personally — a privileged position to be in — you don’t need to be involved in the fight against it. White people must step up to the plate, act as allies and use their privilege for good.

“It takes the actions of every single person to call out racist behavior and be a part of the solution,” Michelle Saahene, co-founder of From Privilege to Progress, told HuffPost. “It’s a privilege to be able to only talk about race and never experience it. It’s a privilege to choose not to talk about it or acknowledge it.”

This statement also ignores the fact that racism is largely a structural issuenot just an individual one.

“People of color would also like to live in a world where their skin color didn’t impact the way they were treated and just never talk about race,” Saahene added. “But systemic racism is real, people of color must talk about race, to navigate a system that was never meant for their freedom — and continues with the support of white silence.”

2. “I don’t see color.”

The intent behind this statement is to demonstrate that you’re not a prejudiced person. But, as psychologist Erlanger Turner put it, “we all see racial difference unless we’re visually impaired.” Refusing to acknowledge the color of someone’s skin is also a refusal to acknowledge the struggles they’ve endured and discrimination they’ve faced because of their race.

“For most white people, they have the privilege to receive many benefits in society based on ‘whiteness’ that people of color don’t receive,” said Turner, an assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University who studies mental health among racial and ethnic communities. “For example, think about the recent protests [in Michigan] when white men went into a state government building with guns and they didn’t experience any harm. Yet, Black people engage in peaceful protests and police are shooting them with rubber bullets. That’s white privilege.”

3. “There’s no need to worry about the police if you’re not doing anything illegal.”

The way white people perceive and interact with law enforcement is far different from the way Black and Latino people do. Black people have been killed by police while doing everyday activities: Botham Jean was eating ice cream in his living roomBreonna Taylor was sleeping in her bed and Atatiana Jefferson was playing video games with her nephew, just to name a few. There’s also a history of police disproportionately pulling over, stopping and arresting Black people over minor infractions or for no apparent reason. And, as was the case with George Floyd — the Minneapolis man who was killed in police custody after allegedly buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill — even minor incidents can escalate into deadly violence.

“White people often claim that Black people, specifically, should have nothing to worry about if they, Black people, aren’t doing anything illegal,” said anti-racism educator Myisha T. Hill, author of “Check Your Privilege: Live Into the Work.” “This is because white people tend to feel an innate sense of safety and security from the policing policies that racially profile and target Black people, in many cases leading to the use of excessive or even lethal force. This is a prime example of white privilege.”

4. “I don’t want to post about racism on social media because I’m scared of the backlash.”

If the fear of relatives unfollowing you on Instagram or leaving “all lives matter!” comments on your Facebook posts prevents you from speaking up at all, your priorities are out of order. Refusing to use your voice and platform in this way is “putting your comfort above all else,” even “above humanity,” Saahene said.

“It is a privilege to not have to take a risk of alienating yourself from others,” she said. “It’s saying that the drama or backlash you don’t want to face from potential racists is more important than speaking out against innocent people being oppressed.”

5. “I don’t have white privilege.”

Some white folks insist white privilege doesn’t apply to them because they’re not wealthy or because they’ve worked hard for what they have or because their life has been a struggle in any number of ways. They get defensive when they hear the term because they don’t really understand it.

White privilege doesn’t mean all white people live charmed lives. “It simply means that the color of your skin is not one of the reasons you may experience personal or professional hurdles,” said Abigail Makepeace, a marriage and family therapist who specializes in trauma.

For white people to dismiss the benefits they’ve reaped because of their whiteness only goes to show how oblivious — and privileged — they really are.

“The mere assumption that someone does not benefit from systemic privilege reveals how inherently unaware they may be of systemic racism,” Makepeace said. “Ignorance of complicity indicates that someone has been protected from and sheltered by the system — a luxury that POC have never had.”

6. “I’m not sure when I should start talking to my kids about racism.”

One of the most common concerns Hill hears from white moms is not knowing when or how they should broach the subject of racism with their children. The question itself demonstrates that white parents have the ability to wait for the “right” time to talk to their kids about racial discrimination; Parents of color are often forced into having those conversations with their kids at a young age.

“This urge to shelter their white children from the realities of racism is directly born of their own white privileges. Black, brown, indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, people of color, do not have the luxury of putting blinders up to shield our children from racism,” Hill said. “Our livelihoods depend on us constantly having these heart-wrenching conversations with our children, from very early ages, about why they have to behave differently from white children and what to do if we are pulled over by the police. Because our safety is never guaranteed.”

Conversations about race need to become the norm in white homes, too, Saahene said, in order to “teach anti-racism and raise socially conscious and inclusive children to be a part of the solution.”