The Language of the New Racism: “People of Color”

Who has more skin pigmentation, this Korean-American “person of color” or…

by James A. Bacon

So far Steve Haner is the only journalist in the state of Virginia to have remarked upon the most significant attribute of the the most consequential legislation to pass both the state Senate and House of Delegates this session — a provision in the Omnibus Energy bill that would bequeath special treatment upon that most amorphous but oh-so-politically-correct racial category, “People of Color.” (See “Energy Omnibus III: Race, Poverty and Justice.”)

The omnibus bill, as Steve has explained in his three-post series, would radically overhaul Virginia’s electricity infrastructure, making it greener and more expensive. In tacit acknowledgment that restructuring the electric grid will cost rate payers billions of dollars, legislators would insulate low-income Virginians from rate increases and also would engage in racially preferential hiring for utility construction contracts in “historically economically disadvantaged communities.”

How is such a community defined?

Historically economically disadvantaged community” means a community that is (i) a community in which a majority of the population are people of color or (ii) a low-income geographic area.

…this olive-complected white woman?

And what is meant by “people of color?” The legislation provides no illumination. Neither, as far as I can find, does the Code of Virginia. A search of the Code of Virginia turns up not a single reference to “people color.” There are innumerable statements in the code prohibiting discrimination against Virginians based on color (or race, religion, national origin, etc.) But “people of color” is an alien concept.

In common parlance, “People of color” refers to non-whites. The phrase has no legal meaning — which is understandable because it is scientifically and sociologically meaningless. It is a lumpen-ethnicity, constructed by ideological progressives, comprised of another lumpen-ethnicities such as African-Americans (including immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean), Hispanic-Americans (a language grouping), Asian-Americans (including groups with skin colors ranging from lily-white to coal-black), and American Indians. The unifying factor, according to the Wikipedia entry on “Person of color,” is “common experiences of systemic racism.”

Most people would agree that African-Americans and were subjected to systemic racism in Virginia under slavery and Jim Crow and to a diminishing degree since the dismantling of segregation. One can argue that “society” owes something to African-Americans as a race by way of compensation for injustices done to their ancestors. (I don’t make that argument, but I understand it.)

By contrast, there is no history of legal discrimination against Asians (unless you count admissions policies to elite public universities) or Hispanics in this state. To the contrary, Asians and Hispanics were a demographic rounding error in Virginia until recent years, and those who live here came to pursue economic opportunity. Asians out-perform whites in educational achievement and in median household income, and it is an absurdity to suggest that they are by any measure “disadvantaged.” While it is true that Hispanics as a group have lower incomes than whites, it is also true that a large percentage of Hispanics were both poor and ill educated when they emigrated to the state; they owe their disadvantage to their condition before they came to Virginia, not to their treatment once they got here. 

Nevertheless, under the Omnibus legislation, in constructing new electric facilities, Dominion Energy and Appalachian Power shall “give priority to the hiring of local workers, including workers from historically economically disadvantaged communities,” which means lower-income Virginians and “people of color.” The bill would institutionalize preferential hiring practices on the basis of race/ethnicity — not just for races/ethnicities that suffered legal discrimination in the past, but groups favored by the leftist ideological flavor of the month.

Surely, such blatantly discriminatory verbiage flies in the face of the anti-discrimination language of the Code of Virginia and the Virginia Constitution. 9For a discussion of the constitutional issues, see Hans Bader’s column, “Racial Preferences in Energy Bill Are Unconstitutional.”0 Surely, if enacted, the language will be struck down by the Virginia Supreme Court. Even so, the people-of-color clause in the legislation should give all Virginians pause….  including people of color. What the General Assembly arbitrarily giveth, the General Assembly can arbitrarily taketh away. It is in no one’s best interest to start carving out exemptions for the inviolable principle of anti-discrimination under the law.

Embarking upon a regime of reverse discrimination is not what voters bargained for when they elevated Democrats to a majority in the General Assembly. There are ways to create an Opportunity-for-All society that do not require establishing invidious new racial privileges.

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26 responses to “The Language of the New Racism: “People of Color”

  1. well, you totally missed the part after the “OR” :

    ” or (ii) a low-income geographic area.”

    That covers a lot of ground also – including much of rural and mostly white Virginia.

    are they also included in all these provisions?

    • Yes, it would seem.

      • It does seem odd to include all minorities in these provisions, when Hispanics were never subjected to segregation in Virginia, and Asian-Americans don’t seem to have been subjected to discrimination by the state of Virginia. Why should black people have to share any remedy for past discrimination with other groups that don’t have a similar history of discrimination?

        The Supreme Court’s Croson decision faulted the City of Richmond for including non-African Americans in set-asides for minorities, given that they hadn’t experienced the kind of discrimination in the city that African-Americans had. It viewed this as an additional reason for striking down the city’s ordinance providing for set-asides, in its 1989 ruling in Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co.

        The New Jersey courts struck down a racial set-aside solely because it included races other than black people, in their 2001 ruling in the L. Feriozzi Concrete case against the set-asides provided by the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority.

        These provisions of the Clean Energy Act might be vulnerable to a legal challenge for similar reasons.

  2. FYI: from FOxNews:

    ” More than half of Latino rental applicants in Virginia (55 percent) have been discriminated against in one form or the other. Latinos are either quoted higher rents, receive fewer incentives or specials, are offered less availability dates, fewer available apartments, and are told to have to pass more application requirements than their white counterparts, according to The Equal Rights Center based in Washington, D.C.”

  3. My in laws are from India. They get frosted over blue every time they hear the phrase “people of color”. I think Teddy Roosevelt was right way back in 1907. TR’s brand of Americanism would do a great deal of good for the nation. POC thinking is just going to divide the public for generations to come.

    “In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American … There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language … and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
    Theodore Roosevelt 1907

  4. Jim, ever hear if “set asides” in contracts? Not exactly new. Been around since maybe 60s or 70s. Also, what’s with your obsession with race?

  5. “Also, what’s with your obsession with race?”

    Yes, what is your obsession with race. You seem to have built your life around it. “Why your obsession with race?”

    A good question for Hitler and the Old South too. Why this obsession with race?


    • One, among many answers, might be:

      The old south in Virginia depended on them as slaves for free labor.

      And the Democrats in Virginia today depend on them for free votes, bought with other people’s money, so as to keep them captive and dependent on Democrats.

      Hence, all the obsession over race.

      • C. Vann Woodward made a compelling argument that Jim Crow was an invention to segregate the poor masses of whites and blacks in the old south and the chief reason was to prevent populism from uniting them into a powerful voting block that the so called “bourbon interests” would be powerless to stop. So to preserve political and economic power “Jim Crow” was invented by the “bourbon interests”.

        • MLK seems to agree with C. Vann Woodward in this excerpt from a 1965 speech. My question is, haven’t we already been down this road? Have we really learned anything at all? Has anyone thought to calculate the collateral damage that has been unleashed?

          “Thus, the threat of the free exercise of the ballot by the Negro and the white masses alike resulted in the establishment of a segregated society. They segregated southern money from the poor whites; they segregated southern mores from the rich whites; they segregated southern churches from Christianity; they segregated southern minds from honest thinking; and they segregated the Negro from everything. That’s what happened when the Negro and white masses of the South threatened to unite and build a great society: a society of justice where none would pray upon the weakness of others; a society of plenty where greed and poverty would be done away; a society of brotherhood where every man would respect the dignity and worth of human personality.”

        • I believe Van Woodward there. No, doubt about it in my mind, the bourbon class latched into a powerful pent up force, the incredible grief, the total loss, the overwhelming sense of impotence felt by all southerner’s involved in that horrible genocide, on all sides of it, of one of the most destructive wars in human history (to that time), all of it acerbated greatly by the terrible reality that it was a civil war, brother against brother, sister against sister, siblings and siblings, whole groups of grievously hurt people taken advantage of all over again, using the most primal of forces within them, unleashed by their power hungry leaders all over again. And your can put Woodrow Wilson, the great progressive icon, right up at the top of that despicable crowd.

          • johnrandolphofroanoke

            Myrta Lockett Avary of Halifax County wrote extensively on this subject. This pioneer of southern women’s literature truthfully distilled what happened to the poor, uneducated, and vulnerable white and black families of the south.

  6. If anyone thinks the Founding Fathers had a vision of “all men created equal” and cites that as the promise of this country – without actually knowing and acknowledging our history from Native Americans, to women, to slaves, to Chinese laborers who built the transcontinental rail, to Asians during WWII, to Hispanics and Muslims is living in a white-mans world.

    We have had discrimination in this country from the beginning and we still have it – it’s still a problem.

    What people hate is the way we discriminate to try to undo it or make amends for it – because as individuals, many white folks think they did nothing themselves to cause it so they should not have to amend for it.

    None of this changes the actual history of discrimination that has occurred and is well documented for anyone who wants to take even a cursory look at it – and those that don’t want to – that happens too.

    • All true and well stated Mr. Larry. It may be true that the Founding Fathers vision was only intended for the white men of America, but their vision has extended more freedom world wide than anything else in the history of civilization. I like to think that the ideas of the Founding Fathers and “We the People” have tried to live up to those great words and noble ideas. We are actually closer now than ever before. Why retreat into the chaos of tribalism? Is now not the time to see “man as man”? When will society at last live with its conscience?

  7. “None of this changes the actual history of discrimination that has occurred and is well documented for anyone who wants to take even a cursory look at it – and those that don’t want to – that happens too.”

    I have written endlessly on history here, including history on this subject. The real problem is that people pushing the grievance narrative want to erase history or twist it grossly out of shape for political purposes, or to demean it, or to ignore it all together. Thus our younger generations over the past five decades are grossly ignorant of their own history, culture and legacy altogether. This puts these students at the mercy of their teachers, and so disarmed, the students default to lowest common denominator, bigotry and race based prejudiced thinking on all subjects under the sun.

    This of course also puts them at the mercy of their feelings so easily whipped into hysteria by demagogues. Incredible, the worse culprits here are the leftist at our elite universities working hard to undermine our youth for private agendas.

    Should would want an excellent and authoritative primer on this subject go to:

    National Association of Scholars – Report The Lost History of Western Civilization by Stanley Kurtz

    If you lack the attention span needed to read all 144 pages, start at page 117 to get the point of all the damage being done to our youth by elite higher education in America. Then you begin to understand why so many citizens today are at mercy of political demagogues, including those in government.


  8. re: “We are actually closer now than ever before”

    we clearly are johnrandolphofroanoke

    but the thing is we cannot deny history either.

    Our approach to our past (and continuing) discrimination has been to institute laws to try to stop it and laws to try to compensate those that have been or continue to be affected by it.

    OUR white-guy reaction to it varies from those who believe we are doing the right thing or trying to – to those who reject most all of it including the premise behind it.

    Many white guys don’t even realize they are viewing all of this through white-guy prisms – a world where they never were systematically discriminated against – AS a white guy so they cannot or will not conceive of such a thing for others. Many of them even have a similar attitude about gender discrimination.

    In my mind, the history – for those who actually want to know it , AND the current situation where there STILL IS discrimination in some circumstances despite the fact we have “made progress” means we are not yet done, and we do need to keep going until we truly have a color blind society.

    And yes, we outshine the world on this and we must go on – for the world to see and know.

    • I need my compensation too Mr. Larry. In 1932, Uncle Sam seized the Hawkins estate on Hazel Mountain in Rappahannock County. The property had been in the family since the 1790s. This land was deeded to Benjamin Hawkins for his service in the American Revolution. Land bounties were the only way to pay the Revolution War veterans since Congress never had any money in those days. 1,400 acres of southern exposure mountain side condemned and the family was awarded $800. This property was added to Shenandoah National Park. Mary Hawkins finally was pushed out by the Rappahannock Sheriffs office. The Hawkins never complained. They relocated to Rock Mills and did what they always did. Worked hard, raised families, and attended church. 2 generations later you will find the seed of Ben Hawkins thriving and prospering. Never once did they ask for a handout and never once did they take a hand up.

      • Ah… I see the circumstance now. Yes, Mr. Graves and many others, including you, have never forgiven the Park Service for condemning their land – for a public purpose – that since that time , millions of people have enjoyed.

        Was it right?

        I dunno.. but was it “socialism” ?

        Land is taken all the time for public purposes. Right?

        Dominion Resources is taking people’s land, ostensibly for a “public purpose”, right?

        I don’t think taking land for a public purpose really qualifies as an example of “socialism” or “social engineering” and I doubt that many Republicans would agree either.

        But perhaps I misunderstand your viewpoint so how about telling more about your view on this?


        • I need your land Mr. Larry. What is the address? I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!

        • Mr. Larry there is not a single solitary family member alive today who was born on Hazel Mountain. What would be the point of grinding an ax with Uncle Sam or the crooked Rappahannock Sheriff after 88 years? Perhaps the same is true about many things in this world.

          • I would no more want my land “taken” than you but if the government decided they needed/wanted it then I’d still not be opposed to the CONCEPT of the government having the ability to take land for a public purpose.

            And I do not confuse that with the concept of “social engineering” and/or “socialism”.

            Every single road you and I travel on used to be somebody’s land, right?

            Is it “socialism” to take land from people to build roads?

            more to the point – is that what the GOP means when they say “socialism”?

          • I have read some of the stories of the folks who lost their mountain homes to the Park Service and fully understand that the descendants are not inclined to dismiss it as over and done.

            I supposed there are places/countries in the world where the government cannot take land if the owner does not want to sell it.

            But that’s not the way this country grew up. Roads, rail, pipelines, airports, schools, army bases, hospitals, water/sewer, on and on – is the way this country has grown.

            My county, by the way, is so sensitive about this that they will not initiate condemnation proceedings against property owners – but they will let VDOT do it. They could stop that if they wanted to but they choose not to – so even though they say they don’t like to “take” property – they will if someone else gets the blame.

          • johnrandolphofroanoke

            One of the great sins of creating the Shenandoah National Park was the seizure of land, the compensation at Great Depression values, and the independent farmer becoming a sharecropper. That is what happened to the Hawkins clan. Same can be said of the Burke, Jenkins, Brown, Dodson, and Weakley families. This was just one mountain. The full telling of that story has yet to come. They went from self sufficiency and self reliance to the class of a feudal serf. Don’t forget that sharecropping was legal in Virginia until 1970 and it equally impacted poor/uneducated whites and blacks.

  9. johnrandolphofroanoke – wasn’t virtually every single National Park done that way?

    Wasn’t Yellowstone, the Great Smoky Mountains, Arcadia, Yosemite done that way?

    Do you know how the George Washington National Forest, Jefferson and Monongahela came from? their history, how the Feds got them?

  10. I’m sure if I were in your boots, I’d feel the same!


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