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Does a Colorbind Society Make for a Better America?

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La’Niah Alexander

AFA3104-06

Dr. Sylvester Cohen

15 March 2016

Does A Colorblind Society Create a Better America?

        Ideally one would think that a colorblind society would indeed make for a better America. One would think that this condition would mean equality in opportunities for all mankind despite the color of a person’s skin. However, colorblindness is more of a façade or illusion than an actual practice. When not made a genuine effort, colorblindness is merely a way for people to ignore the topic of racism and accusations of racial discrimination which are still very much prevalent even in this day and age. Colorblindness perpetuates rather than challenges racism. So how could it possibly make for a better America?

        Colorblindness operates under the assumption that race no longer matters in this era when each and every day that is shown to not be the case. Many think because whites and nonwhites are coexisting and cohabitating in a much more peaceful way than say the Civil Rights era that things are fine. But, in actuality, they are not. There is more than enough room for improvement. While the racial gap between whites and people of color is not as overt as it once was, the gap still exists. On the one hand, the Civil Rights era officially ended inequality of opportunity. At the same time, civil rights legislation did nothing to address the underlying economic and social inequalities that had built up through hundreds of years of discrimination. Systematic and institutional racism have replaced Jim Crow racism, simply watering racism down as opposed to ridding of it completely and treating all men, no matter the color of his skin nor his ethnic background, equally. Americans are acutely conscious of color, although they often have very different assumptions about its implications. For example, when nonwhites talk about race, multiculturalism, and colorblindness, they are much more likely to see questions of economic and political power as crucial variables. Whites, by contrast, tend to focus on the issues of prejudice, mutual understanding, and personal responsibility. Colorblindness makes those who support this mechanism view it on a more individual level without acknowledging at the larger social mechanism it really is and in which it operates. In a colorblind society, white people, 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. Most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. White people can guiltlessly subscribe to colorblindness because they are usually unaware of how race affects people of color and American society as a whole. Indeed whites often argue that if all people could look beyond race, then racial problems would go away. This emphasis on prejudice and understanding is important. It does not, however, address the role that power relations have long played in racial conflicts in the U.S., and the role that power has played in facilitating whites' relative success in American society. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives.

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