Monday, December 30, 2013

Seeing Racism in a Colorblind Society

Image Courtesy of Psychology Today

All over the place people have been saying time and again that they want a ‘color-blind’ society, to not have to deal with racism or race anymore. They consistently quote Dr. King, saying that they want to be able to judge someone by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. Many argue that the way to do this is to develop a color-blind society that ignores color. While some may hail this as a noble effort, they fail to see the downsides and how arguing for a color-blind society actually supports white supremacy.

One of the potential downsides to a color-blind society is that, ironically, it could actually foster an atmosphere that allows racism to continue. In a society that no longer sees color, what is the use for anti-discriminatory policies much less hate crimes legislation? Theoretically, there would be no need for such policies as people would not be judged on their race/ethnicity, at least, not on a blatantly discriminatory level. No hate crimes legislation would allow for racist attacks to be perpetrated against individuals without acknowledging that the act was especially heinous. The absence of anti-discrimination laws would allow for businesses to discriminate against minority groups without punishment.

Another potential downside would be the absence of affirmative action/equal opportunity policies, which have been a major benefit to minority communities (even if white women are the main beneficiaries[1]). The purpose of affirmative action is to “ensure that qualified individuals have equal access to opportunity and are given a fair chance to contribute their talents and abilities”[2] yet with AA/EO gone, it could take away even the chance of minorities and women getting a shot at going to certain colleges or attaining certain jobs. This would only increase the racial/gender disparities in regards to visibility in a field and wage disparities.

The argument of a ‘color-blind’ society would actually harm the classroom as well. Most of our history focuses on white people, specifically white men, with token acknowledgements being given to people of color and women. In a color-blind society, we would still be focusing on those same white men, but the situation would be different in that already marginalized groups could be completely ignored or changes made to the language used which results in hiding the true horrors of what occurred, as we have seen happening in the past years.[3] The same would be true for culture, as the cultural heritage of minorities could be ignored in favor of pushing a ‘color-blind’ culture which in reality is the white-dominated culture we currently have today in America.

Overall, the idea of color-blindness is deeply problematic as rather than attacking the roots of racism in our society and the negative impact racism has, color-blindness chooses to ignore it and continue the oppression and marginalization of entire peoples. Only by challenging racism on all levels, from institutionalized racism to micro-aggressions can we actually dismantle racism as an institution and truly liberate ourselves.


1: North Caroline State University Affirmative Action in Employment Training, Who Are The Intended Beneficiaries of Affirmative Action?,

2: Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Affirmative Action,

3: Amanda Paulson, “Texas textbook war: 'Slavery' or 'Atlantic triangular trade'?,” Christian Science Monitor, May 19, 2010 (

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