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I already know the term "people of colour" in a sociological context. What is the counterpart term to people of colour actually (i.e. white people?) in the same context if there is one?

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There is none. This is because "person of color" exists in a particular social and political history, and no phrase that refers to "white" people could be analogous. The history of the relationship between "white people" and "people of color" is not a symmetric one, so no term can be analogous in a political context. The phrase "person of color" is a term for an exogenically defined population. There can be no analogous term as there isn't a self-identifying group to exogenically define the category of "white people".

An analogous word would be a phrase invented by some group of "white people" to reclaim a term that had become toxic as a result of the term being used by people of color as a racist insult and derogatory epithet. Such an analogous word doesn't exist. The phrase "person of color" carries with it a history of discrimination that a phrase like "white person" does not. So "white person" cannot be said to be analogous.

Of course if you are just asking a language question, the term is "white", or perhaps "non-Hispanic white".

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    "The history of the relationship between "white people" and "people of color" is not a symmetric one, so no term can be analogous in a political context." I don't understand this sentence. Why does an asymmetric relationship implies that there cannot be an analogous term? Maybe there could and it's just bad luck that never one was invented. Commented May 28, 2022 at 12:56
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    Because an analogous word would be a phrase invented by some group of "white people" to reclaim a term that had become toxic as a result of the term being used by people of color as a racist insult and derogatory epithet. Such an analogous word doesn't exist. The phrase "person of color" carries with it a history of discrimination that a phrase like "white person" does not. So "white person" cannot be said to be analogous. This is the answer you'll get from me on the politics site. If you'd asked on English Language Learners the answer would have been different.
    – James K
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 13:10
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    I just learned that the antique Chinese actually had analogous terms: Huaxia 華夏 for the (culturally) chinese, and Dongyi 東夷 for the "barbarians".
    – ccprog
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 17:16
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    perhaps, but those words are Chinese and not English, and so not relevant to this answer.
    – James K
    Commented May 29, 2022 at 0:52
  • @JamesK Your explanation is much clearer in your comment than in your answer. Commented Jun 1, 2022 at 16:06
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White people — those who trace ancestry back to Western Europe — have (like most cultural groups) create labels describing or referring to people unlike themselves, without needing to develop a term for those like themselves. This falls loosely under the category of normalization: any cultural group thinks of itself as 'normal' and other groups as 'abnormal', and while abnormal groups can have positive qualities they are usually perceived as enigmatic and somewhat threatening. We need labels for things that are enigmatic and somewhat threatening; we don't need labels for things that are 'normal'.

Historically speaking, groups with Western European Heritage (WEH) dominated the world stage from perhaps the 15th century to (at least) the mid 20th century, and so their worldview became globally normalized. This placed people of other heritages in the uncomfortable position of being labeled and stigmatized as abnormal. 'People of Colour' is a term meant to replace the array of stigmatizing labels that arose in the WEH worldview with something unifying and neutral. It doesn't solve the cultural dominance problem, but it eases some of its more unpleasant aspects. The problem itself cannot be resolved until the natural cultural xenophobia that's prevalent in WEH (or any) culture is dissolved.

Over the past 100 years or so terms like 'caucasian' and 'white' have appeared in the WEH worldview, a self-referential moment that mainly came in response to pressures from various civil rights movements. The fact that WEH people are actively trying to identify themselves as as an 'objective' group — not resting on the subjective assessment of themselves as 'normal' — is an interesting philosophical moment. It signals the end of WEH cultural dominance and the beginnings of a properly multicultural worldview even as certain groups try to use this new 'objective' cultural identity to reassert WEH cultural dominance. It's also a dangerous philosophical moment, in that it lies behind the rising tides of nationalism we've been seeing across the globe. But I digress...

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    "The problem itself cannot be resolved until the natural cultural xenophobia that's prevalent in WEH (or any) culture is dissolved" - or more likely, until one culture completely dominates and assimilates all other cultures which will eventually happen (as it happened many times throughout history, just not on a global scale). As you said yourself, cultural xenophobia is natural (it is part of our evolution as a species) and it won't go away the same way our need for food and water (also evolutional consequence) won't go away.
    – dosvarog
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 18:12
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    @dosvarog: you're conflating 'natural' with 'biological'. cultural xenophobia is an aspect of the fundamental attribution error, but the FAE is a cognitive artifact that varies in strength across individuals and can be mediated and retrained. In fact (oh, the irony) treating cultural xenophobia as though it were a biological disposition instead of a cognitive framework is an excellent example of the FAE (one that a lot of people make, no worries). Commented May 28, 2022 at 19:11
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    Yes, you are correct, I am. But nevertheless, I still think that the need to preserve (in a lack of more adequate word) one's group (be it a family, a tribe, or people, or a state) is evolutionary trait.
    – dosvarog
    Commented May 28, 2022 at 19:31
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    Interesting. I thought it's just about a term (and academically speaking even if speaking about the majority of people in a country a term is needed to categorize them somehow or if not needed then at least simplifies things a lot). White, Caucasian or western European heritage or something else, I thought there must be a term that can be used to simply denote that group of people if that need arises. But this answer suggests there can't be such a term until some underlying problems are solved. Commented May 29, 2022 at 6:41
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    @Trilarion "Caucasian" is used by Americans but it always baffles me. What have I, an Anglo-Saxon Englishman, got to do with the Caucasus? Indeed the people of the Caucasus - Joseph Stalin was one- are coloured with a darker pigmentation than northern Europeans.
    – WS2
    Commented May 30, 2022 at 8:01
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The closest to "white people" is the term WASP. While it has slightly (only slightly) derogatory connotation, it's literal meaning is White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.

Since the racial enmity has historically been particularly pronounced in the Northern America (US & Canada), the designation of the English-speaking settlers of that region (who were predominately WASP) is sometimes applied to the white people at large.

As many other racial designations, it's largely inaccurate, but that doesn't preclude its use. The fact that its connotation is slightly derogatory usually causes any objections to its lack of accuracy to go unheeded.

It's not considered a racist term per se. But it is inaccurate. Although the inaccuracy itself probably is covered under the wider umbrella of a "microaggression" similarly to the inaccuracy of calling Native Americans "American Indians."

What is and what isn't "offensive" is a shifting category, so this may change with time and, to be honest, I am not even sure that it hasn't already. So your mileage may vary.

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It's often better to use a longer, more descriptive phrase particularly suited to the context in question instead of single words or catchy groups of words. Their disadvantage is that people tend to start fights over categories instead of concepts and that they can easily be misunderstood or ambiguously understood (just take 100 randomly selected people from all over the world and ask them what they think "people of colour" really means). Indeed, there is a high risk that in 10 or 20 years from now the term is used in a different way or a different term is used for that.

For example "people of colour" simply seems to mean (according to Wikipedia) not "white", not of European origin. The opposite of that is clearly "white" and "of European origin".

But there may be other definitions of "people of colour" and that would also influence the definition of the opposite (not people of colour, whatever remains if you take people of colour away).

But in many cases that may not be exactly what you want to convey. So my advice is to rather describe exactly what you mean. If you know exactly what you mean, then describing the opposite of it isn't hard and if there is no good single word for it ("white people" may not fit well for example) then simply paraphrase with more words.

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That is a sociology question. One may look at different languages:

Gringo in latino cultures... from Spanish gringo "foreign speech, unintelligible talk, gibberish,"

Also Wigger is what non-color white-colored people have historically been labelled, like Tim Westwood of bbc radio for example. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigger?wprov=sfla1

Gweilo or gwailou 鬼佬 - westerner

Mzungu (pronounced [m̩ˈzuŋɡu]) is a Bantu word that means "wanderer" originally pertaining to ghosts. The term is currently used in predominantly Swahili speaking nations to refer to white people dating back to 18th century. The noun Mzungu or its variants are used in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Mayotte, Zambia.

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    I guess the OP is mostly interested in an answer for English, I guess. Nevertheless, interesting. Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 10:30
  • English is a white dominated language, so non whites dont use it much natively, except Afro Carribean, jamaican say Backra and some people even say whites non blacks are Wiggers, like dj westwood from bbc radio. Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 14:12
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    None of these is really analogous, as they are not terms invented by a group of white people to reclaim a term that had been used as a derogatory epithet. These are all exonyms for white people in languages other than English (though "gringo" has some overlap) You are interpreting the question differently from me.
    – James K
    Commented Jun 4, 2022 at 14:51
  • @JamesK "gringo" is used even in English-speaking parts of predominantly-Hispanic communities. But it's definitely a derogatory. I've been told that were are too many "gringos" buying up houses in a neighborhood I used to live in many years ago. And the person who said it was speaking English, in a professional setting. They were complaining that the neighborhood was getting too gentrified.
    – wrod
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 14:08
  • Exactly, which is why it isn't analogous to "person of color".
    – James K
    Commented Jun 5, 2022 at 17:34

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