The Futility of “Colorblindness,” Part 3

Colorblindness cannot exist where societal power is concentrated with those belonging to one race. In the United States, societal power rests with the majority population, Whites.

I have written posts on this subject before (search on the term “colorblindness” in the search box in the left column).

It is a continuing issue in the United States because of the desire not to deal with racial discrimination issues anymore. But simply turning away from the problem only prevents its solution. People in the United States must recognize and admit the reality of race (really, racial hierarchy) in the society of the United States.

Merely considering Senator Barack Obama to be a potential Democratic nominee for President is not enough. The potential placement of a Black person to operate the federal system (which primarily benefits and reflects the interests of the White majority) means that Mr. Obama (should he be nominated and elected as President) will lack the ability to alleviate the suffering Black people experience with structural discrimination.

A Cavalier Daily columnist struggles with the issue of “colorblindness” in a column titled, “After Race: Racial Labels Overshadow Our Commonalities.” The columnist recognizes the reality of racial discrimination, which has now become subtle and systemic, yet yearns for a “colorblind” society.

The columnist argues that by doing research to discover subtle racial hierarchical systems that favor Whites, the United States cannot reach the “colorblind” ideal.

We now identify race to prevent predatory bank loans, to open access to higher education, and to look after and safeguard voters’ rights. By quantifying inequality, our government and social scientists track property ownership, wealth accumulation and gross income. What the data tells us however, is that discrimination still exists. Racism is more latent now, but racial socio-economic disparity is still strong. Studies on race are important because they aim to protect minorities from gross inequality. But all the research designed to help end racism commits the same injustice that inspired the need for social protection: We separate each other into types of human. In trying to abolish racism, we actually pay attention to difference; we solidify people’s otherness; and we continue to use the same mental categories conjured up by the racist.

The reality is that the difference in skin color is readily apparent. Thus, “colorblindness” is not possible.

Ignoring the effects of racial discrimination for the sake of a false racial comity, as the Cavalier Daily’s columnist implies, would be grossly unjust and untenable. Martin Luther King recognized this in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

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Ballot Initiative (Colorado): Title Board Approves Title for Initiative That Counters the ACRI Initiative

[Update: on March 5, 2008 after granting a motion for rehearing, the Title Board denied the title set for Initiative 61 on the basis that the measure does not constitute a single subject.]

The Colorado Title Board approved a title for a ballot initiative (Initiative #61) that uses some of the same language of American Civil Rights Institutes’s (ACRI) ballot initiative (Initiative #31). The key difference with Initiative #61 is that it would allow the state to make decisions in the areas of public employment, public education, and public contracting that is consistent with the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.

The title of Initiative #61, approved by the Title Board, follows.

Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a prohibition against discrimination by the state, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, and public contracting; preserving the state’s authority to take actions regarding public employment, public education, and public contracting that are consistent with the United States constitution as interpreted by the United States supreme court; and defining “state” to include, without limitation, the state of Colorado, any agency or department of the state, any public institution of higher education, any political subdivision, or any governmental instrumentality of or within the state?

This is an unexpected development. While I do not agree with the inclusion of the phrase “or granting preferential treatment to,” having decisions tied to U.S. Supreme Court decisions is a cautiously* better outcome than ACRI’s vague language.

*I am cautious because the ideological makeup of the Supreme Court could be one that favors the ACRI view.

Regardless, I agree with the move of the proponents of Colorado Initiative #61.

[Note: Regardless of my support of Initiative #61, I still maintain my critique of Colorado’s process of amending its Constitution.]

ACRI Ballot Initiative: Despite Ward Connerly’s Claims of Societal Colorblindess, Significant Disparities Remain

While Ward Connerly asserts that the world is colorblind, reality emphatically contradicts his assertion (search on Ward Connerly in the search box on the left to see my posts about this topic).

The Los Angeles Times, in reporting on the ballot initiative drives in five states, identified that there is a significant disparity in household income, benefiting Whites.

Significant disparities in income among races exist in all five states Connerly is targeting, with Asians on top, then whites, then Latinos, then blacks. The exception to that order is Arizona, where blacks earn more than Latinos.

Colorado

Median Household Income
Whites

$55,000

Blacks

$35,000

Nebraska

Median Household Income
Whites

$47,000

Hispanics (national origin)

$37,000

Blacks

$28,000

(information courtesy of the Los Angeles Times)

ACRI Ballot Initiative (Missouri): Missouri Legislators Sponsor Bills to Control Initiative Process

According to the Kansas City Star, State Senator Kevin Engler, a Republican, is sponsoring a bill which would require that Missouri residents have more involvement in proposing initiatives. The Kansas City Star summarized the bill’s requirements.

The proposed bill would require petition circulators to be Missouri residents, prohibit them from being paid by the signature and restrict them to circulating one petition at a time.

Missouri legislators are concerned that wealthy groups from outside Missouri are abusing the initiative process.

More and more initiative drives, however, are coming from out-of-state groups and are being carried out by professional signature gatherers, said Sen. Kevin Engler, a Farmington Republican who’s sponsoring a bill in the Senate. That goes against the original intent of the process and opens it up to fraud, he said.

 

“Petitions are supposed to be rare exceptions backed by a movement of the people,” Engler said.

 

“Now, someone can come in with a couple million bucks, hire these people from out of state, pay them per signature and put something on the ballot that may sound good but isn’t necessarily good for the people of Missouri.”

State Rep. Michael Parson, also a Republican, is also sponsoring a bill in the Missouri House of Representatives.

I am glad the Missouri legislature is moving to control the initiative process. I have written in a related post about my concern about the unfair influence of money in the initiative process.

Moreover, I reiterate my view that the American Civil Rights Institute’s (ACRI) use of the initiative process to prohibit affirmative action in state education, employment, and public contracting is inappropriate. This issue needs to be resolved in the state legislature as the risk of causing a social minority to suffer is high.