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What is ppg voice of color?

Voice of color refers to the unique perspective and life experiences that people of color contribute to various fields and discussions. The term “voice of color” highlights that people of different races and ethnicities often face distinct challenges and view the world through a different cultural lens. Understanding and uplifting these diverse voices leads to more inclusive, multi-faceted dialogues and outcomes across society.

The Origin of the Term “Voice of Color”

The concept of voice of color originated in the critical race theory field. Legal scholar Richard Delgado explored the idea in a 1977 paper titled “The Imperial Scholar: Reflections on a Review of Civil Rights Literature.” Delgado argued that the academic discourse around civil rights at the time excluded people of color and their perspectives. He called for greater inclusion of minority voices to provide insights that white scholars could not.

The specific phrase “voice of color” was later coined by law professors Mari Matsuda and Charles R. Lawrence III in separate papers published in the late 1980s. They built upon Delgado’s work and asserted that people of color speak from unique social locations shaped by their racial identity and experiences with racism. This lends them a distinct voice of color that should be valued in academic and social justice conversations.

Key Aspects of Voice of Color

There are several key aspects that characterize the concept of voice of color:

  • It stems from living as a racial minority and experiencing systemic racism firsthand.
  • It provides a different lens than the dominant white perspective on various issues.
  • It helps surface overlooked stories, realities, and solutions.
  • It leads to fuller, more nuanced understandings of complex topics.
  • It counters colorblindness and gives diverse voices an equal seat at the table.

Voice of color is not monolithic – there are a multitude of voices within communities of color. However, collectively these voices provide critical counterbalances to dominant cultural narratives that have long excluded or distorted minority experiences.

Why Voice of Color Matters

Elevating voice of color is important for several reasons:

  • Enriches understanding: People of color have different lived experiences and cultural knowledge. Their voices add missing context, nuance, and insight.
  • Drives social progress: Voicing concerns prompts action on persistent inequities. Progress toward justice often starts by listening to marginalized groups.
  • Promotes belonging: Being heard and valued builds trust and engagement. Voice of color signals to minorities that their perspectives matter.
  • Improves outcomes: Considering diverse views leads to better decisions and innovations that work for more people.
  • Upholds democracy: Exclusion undermines equal participation in civic life. Voice of color is essential for a healthy democratic society.

In summary, incorporating voice of color creates more inclusive, informed, just, and effective outcomes across all realms of life.

Voice of Color in Academia

The concept of voice of color originated in academia, where scholars called attention to the lack of minority perspectives in research. Some key insights on voice of color in academia include:

  • Faculty diversity is low, especially at senior levels. Underrepresentation limits voice of color in scholarly debates and publications.
  • Eurocentric paradigms have dominated many disciplines. Academic norms often dismiss indigenous and minority knowledge systems.
  • Research agendas frequently overlook issues that matter to minority groups or present cultural biases.
  • Voicing alternate worldviews can meet resistance or questioning of “scholarly rigor.”
  • Students benefit when faculty bring diverse voices into the classroom through multicultural curriculums.

Ongoing efforts to recruit and support minority academics, rethink Eurocentric structures, diversify research, and incorporate multicultural content remain important for elevating voice of color in higher education.

Voice of Color in Literature

Literature is another area where voice of color has been marginalized and contested. Some developments regarding voice of color in literature include:

  • Minority authors were mostly excluded from the canon until recent decades.
  • Language itself can reflect and reproduce dominant cultural biases.
  • Publishers have sometimes pushed minority writers to conform to dominant styles and points of view.
  • Diverse aesthetics and storytelling modes associated with oral traditions may be labeled unconventional.
  • The success of postcolonial, Black, Latinx, AAPI, and indigenous writing has challenged Eurocentric dominance in contemporary literature.

Voice of color in literature is strengthened when writers from diverse backgrounds tell authentic stories in their own voices and styles. Expanding the literary canon to include more minority authors also opens the door to fuller representations of our pluralistic society.

Voice of Color in the Workplace

Another key area where more voice of color is needed is in workplaces. Some considerations regarding minority employee voices include:

  • Underrepresentation in leadership means critical perspectives often go unheard in decision-making.
  • Cultural biases and gaps in awareness can lead toexclusion, microaggressions, or tokenization.
  • Voicing concerns about discrimination or advancing can bring pushback and retribution.
  • Affinity groups provide safer spaces for minorities to share challenges and solutions.
  • Diversity training helps raise awareness but real culture change requires leadership commitment.

Corporations make progress when they actively solicit input from minority employee resource groups, appoint diverse leadership, implement anti-bias policies, and continually reassess inclusive practices.

Voice of Color in Politics

Voice of color also intersects with the political realm in significant ways. Some political dimensions of voice of color include:

  • Minority underrepresentation in elected office limits voice of color in policy debates.
  • Racially biased laws and barriers to voting have long suppressed the political voice of marginalized groups.
  • People of color frequently advocate for issues, like civil rights protections, that impact minority communities.
  • Minority activism has driven major advancements, from abolishing slavery to securing voting rights.
  • Recent racial justice protests have amplified calls for concrete reforms to address systemic inequities.

A truly inclusive democracy requires concerted efforts to remove obstacles to political participation and elect more leaders with diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds to bring voice of color to the table.

Global Applications of Voice of Color

While originally focused on dynamics within the U.S., the concept of voice of color has relevance worldwide. Some global dimensions include:

  • Indigenous groups and racial/ethnic minorities in many nations face marginalization.
  • Colonial legacies linger in international institutions and policies.
  • Western knowledge frameworks dominate many academic disciplines and development programs.
  • Amplifying local voices fosters more equitable, context-sensitive policies and solutions.
  • Transnational advocacy networks elevate shared struggles for racial justice globally.

Uplifting voice of color on an international scale promotes postcolonial advancement and helps overcome patterns of invisibility, exploitation, or cultural hegemony imposed from afar.

Current Status of Voice of Color

Significant progress has been made in recognizing the importance of voice of color in recent decades. However, considerable work remains to fully dismantle historical patterns of exclusion and marginalization. The current status reflects a mix of achievements and ongoing challenges:


  • More minority scholars, writers, and thought leaders have gained prominence.
  • Diversifying education and workplaces has become an espoused goal, if not fully realized.
  • Anti-racism and social justice movements have entered mainstream discourse.
  • Public understanding of systemic racism and unconscious bias has expanded.
  • Some corporations and institutions are taking concrete steps to become anti-racist.


  • Deep inequities along racial lines persist in most institutions.
  • Backlash arises as the status quo gets challenged.
  • Colorblind ideas and meritocratic myths impede progress.
  • Decision-making power remains concentrated among dominant groups.
  • Without accountability, commitments to diversity can ring hollow.

Gains in voice of color seem fragile and incomplete amid these countering dynamics. Sustained large-scale change will require pushing beyond surface-level multiculturalism to challenge existing power relations and reimagine social structures, policies, and resource allocation through an anti-racist lens.

Strategies for Amplifying Voice of Color

How can institutions and individuals help elevate voice of color? Some evidence-based strategies include:

  • Diversify leadership: Appoint more leaders of color to top roles and decision-making tables.
  • Implement anti-bias policies: Create formal processes to counter discrimination and implicit biases.
  • Support affinity groups: Fund minority employee resource groups to surface concerns.
  • Incorporate diverse content: Seek out and include multicultural materials and voices.
  • Teach critical thinking: Help students analyze dominant narratives and power structures.
  • Make space for dialogue: Create open forums for sharing stories and ideas.
  • Amplify struggles for justice: Use platforms to highlight and back anti-racist causes.
  • Change hiring practices: Remove barriers to recruiting, advancing and retaining minority talent.
  • Collect disaggregated data: Gather and analyze outcomes by race/ethnicity to expose disparities.
  • Rethink funding priorities: Direct more resources toward communities of color.

Sustained efforts across all sectors of society are needed to make voice of color a central, respected force for positive change rather than a marginalized perspective.


The concept of voice of color grew out of critical race scholarship and maintains important currency today. People of color have unique lived experiences, cultural insights, concerns, and solutions to offer. But historical exclusion means these diverse voices still struggle to be fully heard and heeded. Valuing voice of color more highly across our institutions, discussions, and decisions fosters greater inclusivity, justice and innovation. However, dominant groups must proactively break cycles of marginalization for authentic change to occur. Amplifying voice of color remains an unfinished task with the potential to bring society’s practices closer to its highest ideals of equity and representation for all.

Field Key Barriers to Voice of Color Potential Benefits of Greater Inclusion
  • Low faculty diversity
  • Eurocentric paradigms
  • Biased research agendas
  • Questioning rigor of alternate approaches
  • Surface overlooked realities
  • Enrich scholarly debates
  • Improve cultural competency of students
  • Lack of representation in the canon
  • Bias embedded in language
  • Pressures to conform to dominant aesthetics
  • Diversify stories and characters represented
  • Preserve cultural traditions
  • Expand creative modes of expression
  • Underrepresentation in leadership
  • Unconscious bias in hiring and promotion
  • Retaliation and silencing
  • Improve innovation and problem-solving
  • Enhance talent recruitment and retention
  • Create safer, more welcoming environments
  • Minority underrepresentation in office
  • Voter suppression
  • Racially biased policies
  • Give minorities an equal voice
  • Drive reforms that tackle systemic inequities
  • Uphold civil rights protections

This table summarizes some of the key obstacles and potential benefits of greater voice of color across different areas like academia, literature, workplaces, and politics. Dismantling barriers to participation and listening more closely to marginalized voices can enhance outcomes across all these domains.