Opinion: With race, there’s no such thing as color blind

Some might think it's better to not see race, but this means not seeing racial realities. (Photo Illustration by Allante Morris)

When one claims that they are “color blind” when it comes to race, they believe they’re doing a great service to people of color, but claiming to be colorblind can mean not seeing someone’s identity and experience.

When one says they are color blind, this means they fail to notice skin color and see everyone as their equal regardless of race or ethnicity.

Some might think color blindness is the solution to the ongoing racial divide in America.

Aside from ignoring a person’s identity, it also implies ignorance to racial injustices happening all over the world. Race is always a part of the equation.

The alternative to color blindness is racial consciousness and awareness.

This doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be on full time justice mode, but at the very least, we should acknowledge that race affects people in very real ways.

One study published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that after randomly assigning “black sounding” and “white sounding” names to 5000 resumes, and sending them to 1300 different employment ads, the resumes with white sounding names were 50% more likely to get callbacks than the resumes with black sounding names.

Even equal opportunity employers were subject to this racial bias in the study, and ongoing research in this area shows time and time again that race, even if socially constructed, is very real.

Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton, wrote about the inherited social constructions in the European Journal of Social Psychology.

She wrote that “overall, shared socially constructed understandings—starting  with automatic categorization, along culturally condoned lines… all these features can and do reinforce stereotypes.”

Even so-called “liberal” thinking is not free from the effects of race. One of the greatest issues in today’s feminism is its color blindness.

Intersectional feminism is the belief that women of color, transgender women, women with disabilities and women who are otherwise unprivileged face an oppression that cisgendered, straight white women don’t experience.

All feminism should be intersectional. If it’s not then it’s only protecting the well beings of certain women, which isn’t feminism.

While people of color are constantly reminded of the ways in which race affects them, some may still choose to say that race shouldn’t affect their life or day-to-day routine.

These are shining examples of privilege: the ignorance of a minority group’s struggles when they aren’t affecting the dominant group.

It’s not to say that majority group members are bad, but it does mean that favored groups will have a harder time understanding a struggle they’ve never experienced. 

Acknowledging and understanding race comes with the realization that although we are not responsible for the legacies we are born with, addressing them is necessary for equity. Ignoring the racist history and ongoing race-based issues in America only creates disparity.

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About the Author

Shiavon Chatman
Shiavon Chatman is a second-semester student on the Current, where she serves as the social media editor. She is double majoring in journalism and psychology and plans to transfer after graduation.

1 Comment on "Opinion: With race, there’s no such thing as color blind"

  1. Teressa Stratton McKenzie, MATD | April 6, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Reply

    This is a well researched, written article. If we utilize the “blind fold” attitude, we close our eyes to reality. There are many different ethnic groups, religious groups and sexual preferences in the world this is reality, We must acknowledge and respect these groups and understand their struggles.

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