person of color
n. pl. people of color also persons of color
A person who has a racial identity other than white.
Usage Note: Dissatisfaction with nonwhite as a comprehensive racial label has likely contributed to the recent popularity of terms formed with the phrase of color, as in person of color, woman of color, or students of color. By substituting a positive formulation for a negative one, these terms recast the notion of not being white as an affirmation of common identity or shared experience among people of widely varying ethnicities. It is interesting that the almost exclusive association in American English of colored with black does not carry over to terms formed with "of color," which are used inclusively of all groups other than those of European origin. See Usage Notes at colored, nonwhite.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.