Services & Information
Educate yourself further about the BIPOC community by taking a moment of your time to read the information below! Written by members of our establishment that have experience and in-depth knowledge about the definitions and the communities.
What is BIPOC?
The acronym BIPOC stands for “Black, indigenous, and other people of color”. This term emphasizes diversity and equality among people of different ethnicity and race. It is primarily used to describe any person who is not considered as “white”. The term aims to emphasize the historic oppression of black and indigenous people. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what “BIPOC” stands for:
Black: “Black” generally describes a person of African or Caribbean descent who falls under a certain range of skin tones that society determines are ‘Black’, or who has genetic parents who are Black. In certain countries, these identities may be expressed in conjunction with that country (for example, ‘African-American’ or ‘African-Canadian’); some people may choose not to attach these two terms though.
Indigenous: “Indigenous” describes the native inhabitants of the land, especially those who occupied it directly prior to European colonization. Indigenous is a broad term encompassing all original residents, and depending on the land, they may be referred to as Native Americans/Alaskans, First Nations persons, or by their individual nation names such as Algonquin, Maori, Navajo, et cetera. It’s always best practice to use specific nation names when referring to just one or two people or a small group of individuals.
People of Color: “People of Color,” as noted above, is a blanket term to refer to people who are not white. However, they face numerous but different challenges from one another, stemming from harmful cultural stereotypes and assumptions. In essence, while we utilize ‘people of color’ to make it an easily-recognizable group, but the identities within it face different forms of racism dependent on their exact identity.
Troubles and issues faced by BIPOC members
BIPOC members experience issues on a daily basis due to the mindset of the society we live in. The most prominent issue BIPOC members are facing is racial discrimination. By definition, racial discrimination is when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status. There are different types of racial discrimination: direct discrimination (which includes harassment) and indirect discrimination.
Direct discrimination happens when someone treats a BIPOC person worse than another person in a similar situation because of their race or ethnicity. Harassment occurs when someone makes BIPOC members feel humiliated, offended or degraded. These may include racial slurs (offensive words), racial jokes (stereotypes or negative associations), racial cartoons/caricatures (visual depictions of BIPOC people that exacerbate stereotypical physical characteristics), or via other means.
Indirect discrimination happens when an organisation has a particular policy or way of working that puts BIPOC members at a disadvantage. One such example would be a hiring policy that weights people of a certain timezone over another timezone; since certain timezones are more likely to have certain ethnicities within them, this policy would have the impact of indirectly discriminating based on race.
The usage of 'BIPOC'
There are a few reasons that people are starting to favour the term BIPOC over other terms such as ‘racialized people’. First, BIPOC emphasizes the specific global struggles of Black and Indigenous persons, especially as it relates to the history of the global slave trade, genocide, and the still-lasting impacts that practice caused. It does this without leaving out the other groups, which fall under ‘POC’ and still face different types of historic racial discrimination and stereotyping.
In other words, the term aims to bring to center stage the specific violence, cultural erasure, and discrimination experienced by Black and Indegenous people. It reinforces the fact that not all People of Color have the same experiencer or stereotypes.
White House laws and protections
For a fuller overview of how racism is handled under White House law, along with explanations, examples, and critical thinking questions, visit the Judicial EduCentre page.
There are multiple ways in which employees are protected from racial discrimination at the White House. First, employees have the right to free speech which allows them to speak out against this discrimination; in addition, this free speech is limited so that racially insensitive speech is not protected because it is ‘harmful’ speech. Second, employees have the right to equality to ensure that they were are treated equally by our institutions, protecting them against indirect/systemic racial discrimination. Third, numerous crimes such as bullying, harassment, and the newly-added ‘hate crimes’ can be utilized to prosecute those participating in direct racial discrimination.
Additional resources & information
University of Washington - Counseling Center provides anti-racism resources for black individuals or communities as well as for people of colour. You can access their anti-racism resources for black individuals or communities here and anti-racism resources for communities of colour here.
Black Lives Matter provides resources such as Toolkits which include Healing Action Toolkit, Chapter Conflict Resolution Toolkit, Healing Justice Toolkit and other important toolkits here.
The United Nations provides resources on Indigenous people which includes publications, reports, studies, policies, training materials, multimedia and articles here.
Asha International is an organisation that empowers people within underserved and underrepresented communities - immigrants, refugees, black, indigenous, people of colour and LGBTQ+ to share their stories to normalize conversations about mental health and inspire hope and well being. They provided a set of BIPOC Mental Health Resources here.