"Person of color" or "people of color" are synonyms for people who are not white and (especially in the United States and Canada) for members of a non-white minority group. Some find this term equally offensive as the term "colored", primarily because it fixes whites as the benchmark for racial division, fostering an allegedly "us-versus-them" view of race relations. Proponents of the term maintain that it must be realistically acknowledged that race domination is primarily caucasian,
and that the term "person of color" is a better generic term for the
racial underclass than "black person" as it includes ethnicities other
than those strictly of African descent. This would include Latinos, Asians and many indigenous groups that also experience racism.
The historical term free people of color refers to people of African descent during slavery who lived in freedom. A related term from the time of slavery is gens de couleur,
a French expression that refers to the free descendants of white French
colonists and Africans. Because so many of these people had mixed
African and European ancestry, they are sometimes labeled mulatto. They are also sometimes referred to as affranchis.
I didn’t know about the "Free People of Color" usage. I’m curious what years the term POC came into being, anyone know?