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.