Among A Race Of Others: An Overview Of Western Racial Classification And Colourism

Among A Race Of Others: An Overview Of Western Racial Classification And Colourism

Media Diversified

Anthony Anaxagorou

Recently, a friend asked what makes someone a ‘person of colour’. For many White people and for many people of colour too, the term can seem strangely ambiguous. The ongoing refugee crisis has seen thousands of displaced people trying to enter Europe from the Middle East or East Africa adding yet another dimension of complexity to race politics.

My friend argued that people of colour can only be Black or Asian because Levantine and Middle Eastern people could in places pass for White, if Whiteness was simply measured by skin colour. He remarked how many Syrians had blonde hair and blue eyes; the same went for Northern Afghan, Lebanese and Palestinian groups. He mentioned how half of Turkey was geographically in Europe and its history with Greece, then claimed Cypriots consisted of either Greeks (from Greece) or Turks (from Turkey), refusing to acknowledge them as a densely heterogeneous race…

…Equal opportunity forms ask people to specify their ethnicity yet fail at being inclusive. I myself am not White, nor am I Black or Asian. I am not mixed-race either – that’s if mixed-race is assumed as being half African or Asian and half European. I am Cypriot so throughout my life I’ve had to tick ‘other’. On paper I’ve always lived among a race of ‘others’. In 2011 British Arabs were officially recognised in the UK census but still not many forms feature the option. Another misleading point here is that aside from the Arabs of Arabia there is no such racial group with the association being more linguistic; however, it’s become an easy point of aggregation…

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