"People of colour" is a phrase that is new to me. Partly because it's American, partly because we were all about class and gender in our all-white all-female mostly lower-middle-class Sociology lessons, and partly because race discussion is much more unusual in the UK media and generally revolves around 'ethnic minorities' and how they are stealing all our jobs. Or else how much everybody hates the BNP, except for the lunatics who vote for them in numbers that, while relatively small compared to how many people vote for horrifyingly racist American political figures, are still big enough to depress and/or alarm.
Is it wrong that I think it is an inherently silly phrase? Not in its aims and it's history and its inclusiveness and its usefulness in race meta, but because every single time I see it I get a vivid mental picture of a bunch of people in rainbow colours, followed by the notion that I must therefore be monochrome. This is childish, possibly, but the amusement of taking a euphemism literally always strikes you more when you hear a phrase the first few times. This 'amusing when taken literally' effect has lasted a bit longer with this particular phrase, though, because it makes me double-take every time; it's so eye-catchingly close to "coloured people," which I was always taught was a phrase used by the inbred farmers who'd never left Devon and whose experience of black and white extended to sheep, cows and that one family in town who run the Indian.
I'm not going anywhere with this, btw. It's not like I have had an inspirational thought about a phrase which covers what people mean by 'people of colour' without any ridiculous euphemisms regarding the literal colours of the people concerned. I don't like the phrase, but that's mostly because I don't like the fact that there has to be a phrase meaning 'people who are not or do not appear to be of European descent and who consequently experience a negative bias in America and other cultures that historically and currently favour those who appear to be of European descent.' (That's my Hitchhiker's Guide style definition, which does at least serve to highlight the complete ridiculousness of racism, even if it is a bit wordy.) But there does have to be a phrase like that in order to make race meta readable (not to mention writable), and we need race meta so that we might eventually reach a point where classifying people by race is regarded as almost completely useless in a sociological context because it has no relevance to anything. But we are soo not there.
Of course, if anyone does have a nice concise scientific phrase, without visible-light-spectrum inaccuracy and free from negative connotation, for use in sociological and meta contexts, I would be delighted to hear it. I'd much rather not laugh in the middle of Serious Business.