Cleveland Indians ready to discuss changing team name

Patek's 3 Dingers

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In 1981, the Stanford University mascot was changed from the "Indians" to the "Cardinals". Except for some alumni who would periodically petition for the name to be changed back, it was a non-event.

If the minority involved is offended by a team name it should be changed and I'll be fine with it. If that minority doesn't care and the name is not changed, I'm not going to be offended on behalf of a group of people that aren't.

I don't understand why people are so worked up over possible team name changes that have nothing to do with them personally.
 

Ale Xander

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In 1981, the Stanford University mascot was changed from the "Indians" to the "Cardinals". Except for some alumni who would periodically petition for the name to be changed back, it was a non-event.

If the minority involved is offended by a team name it should be changed and I'll be fine with it. If that minority doesn't care and the name is not changed, I'm not going to be offended on behalf of a group of people that aren't.

I don't understand why people are so worked up over possible team name changes that have nothing to do with them personally.
It's the Cardinal. No s
 

oumbi

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He is entitled to his opinion and others are entitled to their opinion of his opinion.
This does seem to be one essential element of SoSH. Overall, this results in better discussions and more learning by everyone.
 

Danny_Darwin

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I don’t know why more teams don’t embrace name changes, even those whose names aren’t inherently offensive. Selling the merch with the new name/logo seems like a potentially untapped revenue stream to me.
 

benhogan

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I don’t know why more teams don’t embrace name changes, even those whose names aren’t inherently offensive. Selling the merch with the new name/logo seems like a potentially untapped revenue stream to me.
Holy crap, you just won the internet.

The fans get over the name change in about 2 weeks and start buying the new unis in droves.
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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I don’t know why more teams don’t embrace name changes, even those whose names aren’t inherently offensive. Selling the merch with the new name/logo seems like a potentially untapped revenue stream to me.
I would sincerely love to watch the reaction here if they changed Red Sox to something else. This place would implode.

Honest question: is the NFL the only league where those sales would be shared amongst all teams? I believe MLB is, but not sure on NBA or NHL. It's probably not worth turning over the apple cart for 1/32nd of the take, especially when you then need to change out everything in the offices and stadiums.
 

oumbi

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I would sincerely love to watch the reaction here if they changed Red Sox to something else. This place would implode.

Honest question: is the NFL the only league where those sales would be shared amongst all teams? I believe MLB is, but not sure on NBA or NHL. It's probably not worth turning over the apple cart for 1/32nd of the take, especially when you then need to change out everything in the offices and stadiums.
I think the name "Redskins" might be available soon.
 

nvalvo

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Seriously, though: it should be the Spiders.

They’d be crazy not to grab onto the authentic history of having been the team to lose the most games in a season. It’s not a great distinction, but it happened like 120 years ago, and it’s more interesting than anything, say, the Blue Jays have ever done.

Plus, think of the cool Halloween tie-ins you could have in years when the Spiders made the postseason!
 

brs3

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In 1981, the Stanford University mascot was changed from the "Indians" to the "Cardinals". Except for some alumni who would periodically petition for the name to be changed back, it was a non-event.

If the minority involved is offended by a team name it should be changed and I'll be fine with it. If that minority doesn't care and the name is not changed, I'm not going to be offended on behalf of a group of people that aren't.

I don't understand why people are so worked up over possible team name changes that have nothing to do with them personally.
By amplifying the voice of those not being heard, change is possible. No?
 

OCD SS

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Correct. Is is the color.

like

Dartmouth Big Green
Harvard Crimson
Cornell Big Red

Syracuse is in heady company with a nickname that is just a color.
The color is probably better than going with making William of Orange the mascot.

To quote John Oliver, "Somewhere. You draw the line fucking somewhere."
It seems pretty simple: draw the line where the dominate white culture, who is represented by the ownership group, is not appropriating the heritage of other groups. If your mascot/ team name is going to lead to white guys dressing up like said mascot, you should be able to see the line pretty easily. White guys dressing up in Native American regalia is a problem, but the same group dressing like Vikings isn't (unless they also insist that Idris Elba and others can't also can't dress up).
 

Bozo Texino

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Sure but there are better ways to express it than calling people snowflakes and implicitly piling on them. I'm with Staz, my issue is where do you draw the line. Balancing out the scales is absolutely well and good, but tilting them so far in the other direction in order to prove how "non-something" we are now, shouldnt be the intentions
"Where do you draw the line?"

You draw the line where actual people are used as mascots for sports teams. It's not rocket science.

EDIT: "BUT WHAT ABOUT THE FIGHTING IRISH?!?!??!" Do Irish people have a problem with it? If so, change that one, too.
 

Toe Nash

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I would just like to point out that while I'm not Native American, I think that the Tomahawk Chop is extremely offensive and it's shocking to me that it still happens (and is encouraged by the team) at Chiefs, Seminoles and Braves games.

There might be a way to keep the names and have it honor natives (probably easier to just change the name, but sure). But there's no way the chant isn't awful.
 

E5 Yaz

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I don't understand why people are so worked up over possible team name changes that have nothing to do with them personally.
You don't understand why people of any racial or ethnic background should get worked up over racism?
 

E5 Yaz

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Here in Southern Oregon, the most direct route from Ashland to Klamath Falls is driving over what was previously named "Dead Indian Road."

In 1993, after decades of protests, the county commissioners changed the name ...

... to "Dead Indian Memorial Road."

Another name change is being considered.
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

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For my own personal reasons I'd prefer this never came up. Even if the team never mentions it again, I'm going to be hearing about this from other fans for the rest of the year, and a name change guarantees I'll have to hear the "get off my lawn" fans complain about it for the rest of my life. The name seems to fall in the same category of Braves, Warriors and Chiefs as generic descriptors of Native Americans and certainly doesn't match the inappropriateness of Redskins. I'm not opposed to a name change, though. The biggest point in favor of changing the name is in the original reasons for coming up with the name and the persistent myth that it was any sort of honor. A little background for those who don't know...

The team had been named after their star player and manager Nap Lajoie since 1903, but Lajoie was sold to Philadelphia in January 1915, so they were need of a new name. There's no published record confirming the decision to name the team the Indians, but there are two pretty transparent factors: (1) The Miracle Braves of Boston were the talk of baseball at the time, and (2) in the days before official marketed team names, when clubs were often referred to by the headlines the sports reporters used in the papers, Cleveland's National League club was occasionally referred to as the Indians in the late 1890s. It is true that the reason for that nickname was because Native American Louis Sockalexis played for the team, but there is no evidence the name was ever meant to honor or respect Sockalexis, not in the 1890s and not in 1915. It's unknown if Cleveland's powers-that-be in 1915 even remembered the name Sockalexis, but they did want an intimidating name like the World Champs had. Years after the fact, someone spun a completely false story that the name Indians was chosen through a fan submission contest sponsored by a Cleveland newspaper in honor of the city's racial pioneer Sockalexis, and this story was slipped into the Indians media guide for several decades. No evidence of this contest was ever turned up and no one was naming anything in honor of Native Americans during one of the country's worst eras of race relations. Eventually, the team dropped the fake story from the media guide and stopped trying to support it, but there is a large portion of fans yet today who have been brainwashed to think it is entirely true.

That seems like reason enough to move on from the name, but I'm categorically opposed to anything new and trendy. I'm also opposed to anything overly generic as to never to elicit any passion either way (like say naming them the Blues after Cleveland's original entry in the National League). I really don't know how I feel about the Spiders. I'm a huge fan of baseball history, but I'm not sure I want my team that's been ridiculed all my life for their lack of a championship and is now in the longest championship drought in the game to associate themselves with the losingest team in history... but I'm coming around to the idea of owning it. The other option to me would be coming up with something to genuinely, finally honor the Native Americans who lived in the Cuyahoga Valley. Most were part of the Iroquois confederacy, but there were many... and there was also the Delaware. The Cuyahoga River (which is also the name of the county where Cleveland is located) was an important part of life for all of them. Cleveland Cuyahogas? I don't know. I'm not sure I personally like the sound of Cleveland Iroquois, but it would retain the "I". Iroquois and Cuyahoga are both a little unwieldy and difficult to spell for those unfamiliar, but would also be a chance to educate. Then again, will there be a day where society decides all the team names like Blackhawks, Seminoles, Chippewas, etc. are also inappropriate? Seems like a legitimate question.

I have more thoughts, but Joe Posnanski has since published a column on the subject since I started this and obviously says much of it much better, so I'll just wrap this up for now.
 

Euclis20

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I don’t know why more teams don’t embrace name changes, even those whose names aren’t inherently offensive. Selling the merch with the new name/logo seems like a potentially untapped revenue stream to me.
The surest way to make someone dig in their heels (no matter the subject) is to tell them they HAVE to do it. All things aside, this is just human nature.
 

nvalvo

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In 1981, the Stanford University mascot was changed from the "Indians" to the "Cardinals". Except for some alumni who would periodically petition for the name to be changed back, it was a non-event.

If the minority involved is offended by a team name it should be changed and I'll be fine with it. If that minority doesn't care and the name is not changed, I'm not going to be offended on behalf of a group of people that aren't.

I don't understand why people are so worked up over possible team name changes that have nothing to do with them personally.
This is a bad argument. This would make sense if what we were talking about was, like, an insult. But that's not the issue.

Naming teams after Indigenous groups participates in this whole Romanticizing aesthetic of the indigenous as Noble Savages whose doomed honor, valor, and courage made them incompatible with modernity. It's a laudatory aesthetic, but it's also an apology for Indian Removal. They're just too stoic and beautiful to coexist with, so we killed 95% of them and expropriated the rest, who now struggle — many in poverty — to maintain and recover their cultural traditions.

If you are an American whose ancestry has roots anywhere beyond the American continent, then your ancestors perpetrated a genocide against these people. Not all of them meant to eradicate these people (the large majority of the deaths were from disease spread accidentally), but many of them did intend it. The German "Lebensraum" might be translated to American English as "Manifest Destiny."

When you speak about indigenous people, you should speak in the way you would want a young German person to talk about Judaism: respectfully, and with a degree of contrition, even if they personally had nothing to do with Naziism. You might say, but it's so long ago! Cultural values have changed! Yes and no. Certainly Columbus' genocide of the Taino or King Philip's War were centuries back, but the Indian Wars west of the Mississippi (which, incidentally, are why Ulysses S. Grant's statues are getting torn down out west despite him being emphatically a Good Guy on slavery) were only in the late nineteenth century — Sitting Bull surrendered to the US Army the same year the Cincinnati Reds were founded. But what's the statute of limitations on genocide? Will the Holocaust not be wrong any more by 2100?

"Where do you draw the line?"

You draw the line where actual people are used as mascots for sports teams. It's not rocket science.
Exactly. Just name your team after an animal (Buffalo Bison! Baltimore Orioles! Miami Marlins!), a geological formation (Tacoma Raniers! Colorado Rockies!), article of clothing/uniform color (Chicago White Sox! Cleveland Browns!) — or mix and match (Bowie BaySox!). In some instances, professions are suitable, where they are particularly identified with a location (Milwaukee Brewers! Pittsburgh Steelers! Houston Astros! Washington Senators!).

It is quite risky to name your team after a racial group, even admiringly. There are a number of European soccer teams historically associated with Judaism (e.g. Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur), and this basically sets up an uncomfortable stadium dynamic where fans of other teams basically end up singing holocaust jokes (!?!?). Not great, but also not totally different from the Tomahawk Chop, which is also effectively a weird bit of race war/genocide humor.

Nicknames that allude to history at all are risky, because history is often subject to reassessment as other perspectives are included. You might think you're naming your team after the Texas Rangers, a rugged crew of rough-and-tumble lawmen who were key to the state's founding, but then you look up a few decades later and your team is named after a settler-colonial death squad that led pogroms against Mexican Americans completely exterminated an indigenous group along the Gulf Coast. Oops.

One of the minor league ball clubs of my childhood, the Albuquerque Dukes, are now named the Isotopes after a gag from the Simpsons. I was sad about this when the change happened (twenty years ago now), but not that sad: I get it. It's just a weird move to name your team after Conquistadors.
 

YTF

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I never saw the Indians nickname to be offensive in the same way that I see Redskins as being offensive. I'm guessing that even though they have largely phased out the Chief Wahoo logo, which IMO was very offensive, clearing the slate and going with a new nickname further distances them from that memory. That navy blue spider logo is outstanding and perfectly mimics the "C" they currently use.
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Ford Frick's Asterisk

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After getting over the initial shock and reading Terry Pluto and Joe Posnanski today, I'm personally ready to accept a name change. The part that's going to be a nightmare is listening to fans complain about it until the current generations die out*, but the benefit of moving on will still be worth it.

Inside Cleveland Indians' decision
While the team insists no final decision has been made, it would be a stunner if the Indians kept the nickname.

The tweet is the first step in figuring out what to do next. The team will be called the Indians for the 2020 season.

My sense it’s doubtful they would make a small change such as calling it “The Tribe.” My guess is they will start all over, a new nickname and a new logo. But my sources keep saying no final decision has been made.
Changing of a name
Nobody really connected the Indians’ nickname to Sockalexis for the next 30 or so years. Then a sportswriter named Franklin Lewis wrote a book called “The Cleveland Indians,” and he pushed the dubious story that the team was named after Sockalexis and was meant to honor Native Americans.

This quickly became the universal story, one that has been written again and again and again. It is an uplifting version of the story for sure, though it’s also true that exactly the time that it started to be told was when Cleveland took on Chief Wahoo as its mascot.

Let’s say for a moment that it is true. I don’t believe it is true or anything close to true, but let’s just say for argument’s sake that the team was named Indians out of respect to the tragic figure Louis Sockalexis and the Native American people.

It leads to this obvious question that few seem ready to ask: Has the nickname paid respect to Sockalexis and Native Americans? Has the Indians’ name really paid tribute? Has the execrable Chief Wahoo lifted anyone’s respect for Native Americans? Have the countless references to war and weapons and genocide raised people’s consciousness to the Native American’s plight?
I do think the best direction to take is choosing a name that actually will be considered an honor. I haven't decided what I think that name should be, but Buckeyes (after the 1945 Negro World Series champions) would be another candidate. An honorable name makes fan backlash more complicated if it outs you as clinging to a racist or ill-informed name.

*I'm also a big fan of Cleveland's AA affiliate the Akron RubberDucks. Aside from the double-capitalized compound, it's a great name. It's fun and appeals to kids as minor league teams should, and it's two separate references to Akron: (1) The industry that has lent it the nickname "Rubber City", and (2) the wildlife that swims in the historic canal running alongside the stadium. It replaced the awful name Aeros. An Aero isn't even a thing. They had to invent a "space cat" mascot to illustrate the name, which was a reference to the city's contribution to the aerospace industry. However, no one even wanted the name Aeros to begin with. They were originally going to reference the same industry with the name Akron Blast, except no one thought to market test the name before officially announcing it. Then they realized people associated "Blast" with the explosion and deaths aboard the space shuttle, so Aeros was a last-second consolatory option that stuck around for 17 years. They replaced the name with RubberDucks in 2014 (not to mention the hideous purple/black/red color scheme to electric blue and orange). This is minor league baseball, where the only tradition is change, and yet still in 2020 rarely a day goes by that someone doesn't complain about the name change on their Facebook page... so I have little doubt I'm going to have to hear complaints about a Cleveland name change for the rest of my life.
 

Ford Frick's Asterisk

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I never saw the Indians nickname to be offensive in the same way that I see Redskins as being offensive. I'm guessing that even though they have largely phased out the Chief Wahoo logo, which IMO was very offensive, clearing the slate and going with a new nickname further distances them from that memory. That navy blue spider logo is outstanding and perfectly mimics the "C" they currently use.
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Regardless of what they do about the name, the team desperately needs to adopt a better primary logo than the generic block C... but I've always figured they were putting that off and letting people be annoyed by the C for a while, because whatever they used to replace Chief Wahoo was going to be hated by the vast majority of the fanbase.
 

keninten

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Nov 24, 2005
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I would just like to point out that while I'm not Native American, I think that the Tomahawk Chop is extremely offensive and it's shocking to me that it still happens (and is encouraged by the team) at Chiefs, Seminoles and Braves games.

There might be a way to keep the names and have it honor natives (probably easier to just change the name, but sure). But there's no way the chant isn't awful.
I`m not a Braves fan but go to Braves games. I love doing the "Tomahawk Chop" and I`m native american. We always have taken it as a cool thing. Chief Wahoo has a picture up in my bar. It`s just too bad people are now noticing us again for political gain.
 

YTF

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I think there’s a difference between Indian and American Indian. Also, I don’t know how old the NCAI is, but the term colored people isn’t really used anymore even if NAACP retains its original name.
Not 100% sure I'm understanding this. If you mean Indian as in the Country of India vs American Indian I totally get where you're coming from, but I'm reading Indian Country in the tweet I posted and I'm seeing as a self reference. Sort of like how Sox fans refer to themselves as Sox Nation. I could be totally wrong though.
 

Marciano490

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Not 100% sure I'm understanding this. If you mean Indian as in the Country of India vs American Indian I totally get where you're coming from, but I'm reading Indian Country in the tweet I posted and I'm seeing as a self reference. Sort of like how Sox fans refer to themselves as Sox Nation. I could be totally wrong though.
Sorry, I focused on the National Congress of American Indians part of the text. I don’t know all the particulars about what’s acceptable and when. But I imagine there’s still a difference about what a group of people call themselves and what people refer to a ball club as.
 

YTF

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Sorry, I focused on the National Congress of American Indians part of the text. I don’t know all the particulars about what’s acceptable and when. But I imagine there’s still a difference about what a group of people call themselves and what people refer to a ball club as.
Like I mentioned earlier I could be totally wrong on this. In my mind most of the outcry in the past about the Indians seemed more aimed at the offensive depiction of Chief Wahoo and this may be a move to once and for all distance the team from that image. Not fully understanding if there is a call by Native Americans for a name change, I'm not passionate that the franchise change it's identity, but certainly support it as a means of putting Wahoo to rest. My next question would be are you #teamspider?
 
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NJ_Sox_Fan

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This is about where I'm at. If I were naming an expansion team today, I probably wouldn't consider a racial group, but since Chief Wahoo is now retired, is the term "Indian" (or Braves/Warriors) really offensive to anyone? Is the Celtics' leprechaun logo that much different than Chief Wahoo? What about the Vikings? Or Canadiens? Heck, Buccaneers, Raiders and Pirates basically pay homage to murderous criminals... where do you draw the line?
The very sad truth is that in today's world, there is no line.
 

teddywingman

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My understanding, from the few Native Americans who are my friends, is that the term Indian is not considered offensive. And perhaps it is even a point of pride, in that white Europeans were so ignorant of where they had arrived.

I mean, they thought they were in India. Jokes on them.

Apologies if this is not accurate. I've never had a deliberately specific conversation about this.
 

barbed wire Bob

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My understanding, from the few Native Americans who are my friends, is that the term Indian is not considered offensive. And perhaps it is even a point of pride, in that white Europeans were so ignorant of where they had arrived.

I mean, they thought they were in India. Jokes on them.

Apologies if this is not accurate. I've never had a deliberately specific conversation about this.
That was my understanding as well. Fwiw, Browning Mt is the headquarters for the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and the nickname for the sports teams is the Indians. This is the logo for the school.

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And this is the football helmet
F591538C-510A-464B-ACAE-46400F00A658.jpeg
 

BaseballJones

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I think there’s a difference between Indian and American Indian. Also, I don’t know how old the NCAI is, but the term colored people isn’t really used anymore even if NAACP retains its original name.
"Colored people" isn't, but "people of color" is. I confess that I don't really understand the difference - it's just a reordering of the same words. But it is what it is, so I use "people of color" and not "colored people".

Interestingly, I have been to South Africa several times, and there, "colored" is a legitimate normal word used by people of various ethnicities. It's not derogatory there. Black = black African. Whites = caucasian. Colored = people of color that aren't black African.

It was VERY odd for me to use the word "colored", because obviously it's not a term we use here now. I felt uncomfortable using it even in South Africa.
 

InstaFace

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He is entitled to his opinion and others are entitled to their opinion of his opinion.
The problem is the extent to which we all have a very high opinion of our own opinion.

Here in Southern Oregon, the most direct route from Ashland to Klamath Falls is driving over what was previously named "Dead Indian Road."

In 1993, after decades of protests, the county commissioners changed the name ...

... to "Dead Indian Memorial Road."

Another name change is being considered.
I'm just going to assume "Dead Honky Road" is in the lead.
 
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InstaFace

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I would sincerely love to watch the reaction here if they changed Red Sox to something else. This place would implode.
If it weren't for being 120 years old, I suspect many of us would agree that "Red Sox", or Sox of any color really, is a pretty silly thing to call a pro sports team. Whatever imagery you want to evoke, or qualities you want to convey through your name... Red Sox isn't getting it done. Nor were the Boston Doves or Boston Beaneaters, as names, so off they went.

At any rate, the flag of the 1903 Boston Americans still flies, and nobody dismisses it.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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"Colored people" isn't, but "people of color" is. I confess that I don't really understand the difference - it's just a reordering of the same words. But it is what it is, so I use "people of color" and not "colored people".
If I understand this correctly, people of color are nonwhites. Blacks are people of color. But all people of color are not Black.
 

BaseballJones

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If I understand this correctly, people of color are nonwhites. Blacks are people of color. But all people of color are not Black.
That makes sense. But I still don’t understand the distinction linguistically between the two phrases “colored people” or “people of color”. I mean humans are mammals but not all mammals are human but it’s not wrong to call us mammals. We don’t say “animals of mammalian type” or whatever.

But it’s really not that important for me to understand. If they prefer the letter term, then I’m happy to use it.
 

HriniakPosterChild

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But I still don’t understand the distinction linguistically between the two phrases “colored people” or “people of color”.
"Colored people" means something historically in the United States.

When I was a kid, "colored people" was the old-school name for those we were taught to call "Negroes." My grandmother always referred to "colored children" when she would ask me if the ones in my school bothered me. She was born in 1881. She was not a fan of integration.
 

BaseballJones

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"Colored people" means something historically in the United States.

When I was a kid, "colored people" was the old-school name for those we were taught to call "Negroes." My grandmother always referred to "colored children" when she would ask me if the ones in my school bothered me. She was born in 1881. She was not a fan of integration.
Ok that makes sense. It’s historical connotations are negative.
 

InstaFace

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That makes sense. But I still don’t understand the distinction linguistically between the two phrases “colored people” or “people of color”. I mean humans are mammals but not all mammals are human but it’s not wrong to call us mammals. We don’t say “animals of mammalian type” or whatever.

But it’s really not that important for me to understand. If they prefer the letter term, then I’m happy to use it.
The difference between "Colored People" and "People of Color (POC)" is about two generations.

(and also, what people assume about you when you say one vs the other)