We have all heard of color blindness before. For some, it is a physical condition that affects the ability to see color correctly. For others, it is an excuse to use when they want to avoid having uncomfortable conversations about race in America.
It is necessary to discuss the dangers associated with racial color blindness in America, especially at a time when communities of color are fighting for change.
Despite what we may all want to believe, the centuries of maltreatment suffered by minorities still have a tremendous effect on race relations in present-day America. Although our society has made advancements to obscure it, racial tensions continue to play out in the same ways now, as they did in the past.
The apprehension towards addressing this country’s dark history with race is what is holding us back from making any substantial change when it comes to dismantling systems of oppression.
The ethnic diversity of this country makes it easy to be conscious of one’s own race. No matter where you step foot, you are made aware of the color of your flesh. It is often thrown around that millennials and Generation Z are growing up in a colorblind society.
But, unless an individual has a disability that impairs their ability to see the pigment in another person’s skin, then the very idea of color blindness is simply an easy route to ignore the question of race in America.
The term "color blindness" is simply a euphemism, an attempt utilized by many to pamper and convince themselves that they have evolved and risen above the status quo, in terms of race relations. But regardless of if they have acknowledged it, many people do in fact see color. I do notice when there is only one white person in a bus full of Black people.
I do notice when I am the only Black individual in a room full of other races. It is important to acknowledge that color blindness stems from an unwillingness to understand the struggles that people of color face. Claiming to “not see race” leads to a guiltless disregard of the injustices that people of color face in America.
Racial tensions in America should have been addressed and shaken down to their very core decades ago, and yet, they were not. On a social level, any honest reevaluation on race in America would have been helpful. Instead, it was hidden under a surface and simply glossed over. Now, we are facing very similar race-related issues that our predecessors should have morally addressed.
For instance, consider the countless protests that have taken place in this country over the past few years, as a result of police brutality, stigmatizations, racial profiling and much more. Was it not a few decades ago that older Black Americans protested tirelessly against racism? Just a few weeks ago, racist Zoom-bombers infiltrated and disrupted Zoom meetings held by Black students at Rutgers.
Even segregation is alive in our country today. De facto segregation among students across different American campuses is rampant. It is easily observed that students would rather sit with those of the same color and backgrounds as themselves than intermingle with others. We cannot pretend to be immune to the racial strains that plagued our predecessors, lest we be stuck in the same boat for quite a long time to come.
One way in which I think we can begin to address the racial tensions that continue to bedevil our nation today is through the promotion of multiculturalism. Unlike racial color blindness, multiculturalism encourages people to empathize and advocate for one another.
Multiculturalism can help ignite meaningful and non-dismissive conversations about race in America. So, the next time you are tempted to say that you “do not see color,” think of what this statement means and the effect that it has on those who are affected by such a counterproductive ideology.
Through this reflection, you will (hopefully) come to see that this statement is built on the idea that everyone in this country is treated the same — which is simply not true. If we are to truly understand and help one another, acknowledging our differences is a sure way to start.
Vanessa Darkoa is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in English and minoring in history and education. Her column, "As It Is," runs on alternate Mondays.
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