“I Don’t See Color”

It is no secret that America has a racism problem, that exists on both a systemic and individual level; whether it be stop and frisk policies, the police shootings of unarmed black people, the school to prison pipeline, or immigration policies. Despite this, America has developed a culture where racism is something polite people don’t talk about; it’s something we keep quiet about at the dinner table, and it’s something privileged individuals like to pretend doesn’t exist. For many, racial issues are uncomfortable to talk about, so they simply don’t get talked about. Some White Americans choose not to see race and take a colorblind approach to racism. These are the people who in discussions about race like to proclaim that they don’t see color, and how we are all part of one race, the human race. This colorblind approach suggests that the best way to combat discrimination is to treat individuals as equally as possible while disregarding the factor of race or ethnicity. It may seem like a feasible approach on the surface, one that aligns with Dr. King’s message to judge others by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin, but in actuality, it’s a quite problematic ideology. Color Blindness appears to be becoming more and more prevalent in American society, but it is doing more to perpetuate racism than it is to solve it.

Color Blindness usually comes from a place of racial privilege; it allows those who practice it to effectively ostracize those who talk about our country’s race problems, and it invalidates the experiences of people of color. White people, who in America are unlikely to experience disadvantages due to race, can effectively ignore the role of race in American society because it doesn’t negatively affect them. While people of color cannot serve to benefit from practicing this approach. The colorblind approach basically says to people of color, “There is something wrong with your racial identity, so I am choosing to ignore it; you are now invisible.” Color Blindness is problematic in that it disregards the culture, history, and heritage of people of color by erasing part of their identity. Not only that but by choosing not to see race, an individual is denying other’s racial experiences. They are ignoring the struggle others have endured while simultaneously exercising their white privilege. Color Blindness makes race and racial issues a taboo, that no one is to speak of. But the fact of the matter is, that having open racial dialogues is important to solving America’s race problem. It’s also important to remember that there’s nothing wrong with seeing race, it’s part of who we are as people. Race is not the problem, racism is.

Color Blindness, though, is not a solution to racism; you cannot solve a problem by pretending it doesn’t exist. When I talk about racism in school or in a social atmosphere I often receive dismissive comments from my peers like, “I don’t see color,” or “Stop talking making things about race!” Unfortunately, racial issues persist and continue to plague society whether white people can bring themselves to acknowledge them or not. Colorblindness perpetuates the oppression of people of color by dismissing racial justice efforts and invalidating their experiences and perspectives. Colorblindness cannot exist in a country like America that has been built upon racism and has yet to heal its racial wounds. A racism free society is something we have to actively work towards; acknowledging race and racism is an integral part of the healing and moving forward process.

Some Americans are all too comfortable blinding their eyes, and convincing themselves that what they refuse to see isn’t there. What Americans should be doing is recognizing our differences and accepting them. We need to tackle our country’s racist past and the racism that persists in the status quo. No one should have their racial identity invalidated because it makes others uncomfortable. Racial divisions have not gone away so it’s time people stopped pretending to be blind. People of color should not have to suffer in silence while white people plug their ears and ramble on about how they “don’t see color.”

References

Williams, Monica. “Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism.” Psychology Today. N.p., 27 Dec. 2011. Web. 13 June 2015. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/culturally-speaking/201112/colorblind-ideology-is-form-racism>.
Rankin, Lauren. “Colorblindness Is the New Racism.” Policy Mic. N.p., 22 July 2013. Web. 13 June 2015. <http://mic.com/articles/55867/colorblindness-is-the-new-racism>.

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