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The terms People(s) of Colour (POC) and Black Peoples, Indigenous Peoples, and People(s) of Colour (BIPOC) have become popular in activist and academic writing. These terms allow for collective activism and recognition that, while differences clearly exist, living in a culture of white supremacy impacts all folx of colour.
However, some writers reject the term People(s) of Colour and the acronym BIPOC (and its variations, see Glossary for more), because they conflate issues across all people who are not white. As a result, these terms and acronyms can be used to erase important differences in the historical and contemporary experiences of the peoples identified with that label, including Black and Indigenous peoples. Recalling that specificity is a core principle of inclusive writing, it is preferable to write specifically and directly about the experiences of particular people or groups of people, rather than trying to generalize across a wide swath of experiences. One recommendation when you do need to generalize is to use the term "racialized people(s)," rather than using the acroynm BIPOC. One of the benefits of the term "racialized" is that it recognizes that race is not an inherent quality of an individual, but rather a complex socio-cultural process.
The Podcast Code Switch has an interesting episode discussing the complexities of using initialism (such as POC and BIPOC) to refer to peoples and experiences. This episode is titled Is It Time to Say R.I.P. to 'POC'? and it is 38 minutes long.
Steps for inclusive writing about Peoples of Colour, and/or Black Peoples, and/or Indigenous Peoples
Check your verb tense
Choose words with care
Choose capital letters with care, too!
Think about pluralization
Write the metanarrative
For more resources and examples:
- Radical Copyeditor’s blog post: Black with a Capital “B”
- “Black is the New Black” –- article in The Bulletin
- Christi Belcourt’s article: Reclaiming Ourselves by Name
- Dr. Gregory Younging’s Elements of Indigenous Style (2018) provides clear and thorough explanations for 22 principles for writing “by and about Indigenous Peoples.” These include principles related to inappropriate terminology, the names of Indigenous Peoples, inappropriate possessives, compensation, and Indigenous language translation. It is an indispensable resource for anyone doing research or writing related to Indigenous issues.
- Quick Guide: Editing and Reviewing Indigenous Research and Writing (infographic) by Geoffry Boyd and Vanessa Welz
- Four Feather's Writing Guide: Coast Salish teachings and approaches to learning to support Indigenous students to develop as academic writers (Royal Roads Unviersity)
- SFU Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre Guide to Indigenous Terminology
- SFU Indigenous Curriculum Resource Centre Guide to Finding Indigenous authors/Knowledge Keepers/Elders as sources for research
- Decolonization and Antiracism Research Guide (UBC), including a Critical Indigenous Research Toolkit created by Xwi7xwa Library (2021)
You can download the complete Inclusive and Antiracist Writing Guide, with expanded explanations, on the Overview Page.
 Many Indigenous Peoples prefer the term Indigenous to other terms like Indian, Aboriginal, or Native; however, the terms Aboriginal, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis are all currently used in Canadian law.
 Using terms like People(s) of Colour can also be a way of being unspecific, especially when writing about an individual, a particular culture or Nation.