For years now, I’ve heard many people say that they are “colorblind” in an attempt to prove they are not racist. Usually, this is followed by a statement explaining that they don’t see a person’s color because at the core we’re all human. While it sounds good on the surface, people who profess colorblindness have always made me a little uncomfortable.

While we are, in fact, human, we can’t escape the role race and ethnicity plays in our lives. Although race is socially constructed, our ethnicities, nationalities, race, and cultural experiences inform who we are as people, and discounting those experiences under the guise of a  colorblindness just doesn’t feel right to me. After all, recognizing and acknowledging each other’s differences isn’t a step back, but rather a step toward true inclusion.

Recently, Psychology Today took a look at the ideology behind being racially colorblind. In the article, “Colorblind Ideology Is A Form of Racism,” Dr. Monica Williams argues that refusing to acknowledge the racial and ethnic differences of others is a form of racism.

Williams writes:

At its face value, colorblindness seems like a good thing — really taking MLK to task on his call to judge people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. It focuses on commonalities between people, such as their shared humanity.

However, colorblindness alone is not sufficient to heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that in the end operates as a form of racism.

She breaks it down:

In a colorblind society, Whites, who are unlikely to experience disadvantages due to race, can effectively ignore racism in American life, justify the current social order, and feel more comfortable with their relatively privileged standing in society (Fryberg, 2010). Most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives.

Let’s break it down into simple terms: Color-Blind = “People of color — we don’t see you (at least not that bad ‘colored’ part).” As a person of color, I like who I am, and I don’t want any aspect of that to be unseen or invisible. The need for colorblindness implies there is something shameful about the way God made me and the culture I was born into that we shouldn’t talk about. Thus, colorblindness has helped make race into a taboo topic that polite people cannot openly discuss. And if you can’t talk about it, you can’t understand it, much less fix the racial problems that plague our society.

If colorblindness isn’t the answer to dealing with racism, Williams argues what many of us have always known: Multiculturalism is the answer.

Learning about the culture, practices, and nuances of another’s culture does more to stem the tide of racism than simply ignoring our differences. Through multiculturalism, Williams argues, we can celebrate our differences while acknowledging the difficult racial pasts of others.

What do you think? Do you think colorblindness is a form of racism? Speak on it! 

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  1. @peace I find it extremely sad that you have to insult me because you dont agree with my views. All these bloody coons saying whatever BS so as to “show” Joy and her crew of flunkies that “hey we dont all think like her!”. Who the hell said you needed to agree with me? Did I ever insult YOU? A simple “she’s on her own with that, I dont agree” would have suffice instead of running your mouth on some nonsense.

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  2. peace

    i also find it extremely sad that you had to insult Timcampi because she did not agree with your views and questioned her blackness. Read the hurtful things you wrote. Yeah we don’t have to agree but why do you have to get racist and question someone’s blackness because they disagreed with you. I don’t mean to be mean, I honestly feel sorry for you, not in a patronising or rude way btw. Race is something that I can get very passionate about and will always be important to me but I don’t believe that black people cant be racist towards another race, you may disagree but changing the definition of racism to make what you say ok is not right.

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  3. peace

    you know what i dont care about joy or whatever but i do care when people but i do care when someone is being racist or being prejudice towards someone else.

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  4. gryph

    “If colorblindness isn’t the answer to dealing with racism, Williams argues what many of us have always known: Multiculturalism is the answer.”

    LOL. no it isn’t. know this: in canada, where mutli-culturalism is a national policy, anyone writing seriously about race admits that multiculturalism still permits for racism – and is itself racist. policy-wise it is another ‘stop gap’ measure that allows for minority investment in the nation-state, not meaningfully addressing systemic discrimination and in many greasing an inequitable assimilation. lol, some answer.

    “Scrubbed of the most offensive commentary, comments can sometimes read like an ad for multiculturalism in Canada. Waxing poetic about integration, diversity and harmony, commentators often sketch a race landscape wrought with good intentions and high ideals. This, however, is an imagined and, indeed, manufactured landscape.

    The one in which we live is not scrubbed of the most offensive comments and violent intentions. A central element of the controversy relies on hardcore racist rejection of anything black, African, non-European. While we by no means wish to grant voice to these minority sentiments, it is necessary to remember that Canada’s race landscape includes these opinions, voices and predilections, despite the good intentions of many Canadians of all backgrounds, and despite whatever progress has been made so far. ”

    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1093950–the-evolution-of-multiculturalism

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