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! 

  • gryph

    rude? how so. i have nigerian friends i hail up with “naijah gyal!” all the time. that you’d be offended by being reminded of your roots is telling. how is that BASHING your heredity? it isn’t. fix that.

    now, what i’m questioning is your odd determination to step on toes when there are other options available to you. why not just say you were “born in america” instead of being an “american native”?

    also, i’ve already gone beyond multiculturalism – as it doesn’t work really. people find more clever ways to be racist. so, i’m not here trying to promote it. it’s questionable however that you’d not conduct yourself more wisely given that mutliculturalism is the topic. you are kind of showing why it might not work.

    i’m well aware of the colonial problems of the term “native” – and that america’s indigenous people (some of them any way) have rejected it. and, i’m not telling them to reclaim anything.

    however, do recognise naijah gyal, that “native” is still a very loaded term, despite what you say. so calling yourself an “american native” – is very charged – despite it being in some narrow sense true.

    but you know what, i know how we can settle this arguement. hang around a bunch of indigenous/first nations/aboriginal/apache/choctaw/cherokee/sioux or whatever people. repeatedly refer to yourself as an “american native”. they’ll eventually scalp your black ass.

  • Timcampi

    You just said scalp… and native American… and I’m the one who needs to be “aware” of my loaded terminology. o___o THE F*CK. … And then you had the nerve to say I need to be more multicultural? This can’t be reality. I’m done for real now. You truly are an idiot. I was being flippant before but now it’s definitely true. Please respond. I know you desperately want to get in the last word. Another comment about me being ashamed to be Naija (correct spelling) should do.

  • gryph

    yup. i said “scalp”. tactically. see you never fail to pick on the most superficial parts of an argument – and run headlong into nonsense land with them.

    so, i always leave those little treat for you. they divert you and prolong my satisfaction in watching you run around in maze constructed by your superficiality. not only white folks should have this kind of fun, lol.

  • kris

    I like your comment and want to add racism is an act of one race believing their more superior than the group they look down on. Its the human race, we where made like this, humans use fear for the power of feeling better plus there economical and money which = power.

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