“I don’t see color, I just see people” An all too familiar and unfortunate statement that’s been spoken one too many times. What exactly is so wrong with acknowledging color and why does it make people so uncomfortable?
For the past couple of years MTV has been conducting a study for their “Look Different.” Campaign addressing bias. Aimed at millennials, its purpose is to help them deal with prejudice and discrimination present in their lives. Having held several national polls and surveys on how people are “experiencing, affected by, and responding to issues associated with bias” MTV confirmed the general view of millennials: Tolerance and Diversity. Compared with previous generations, millennials have proven to profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness, however; on the contrary, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness. Leaving them uncomfortable with race and their ability to actually talk about it, as well as being a bit confused on what racism actually is.
The Key Findings show that:
1. Millennials are coming of age in a racially sensitive society.
2. The majority of millennials believe that their generation is post-racial.
3. Millenials feel that “colorblindness” is something to strive for yet also believe in “celebrating diversity”.
According to this survey, millennials believe “colorblindness” is an aspirational goal. 73% believe never considering race would improve society. 70% say they don’t see racial minority groups any differently than they see white people. 81% believe embracing diversity and celebrating differences between the races would improve society.
Ideally, “colorblindness” seems like it would be the answer to racism, but in reality it’s actually pretty racist and no one should strive for this in a progressive society that’s so passionate about equality and celebrating diversity. What people are really saying when they say they’re “colorblind” is “I choose to not see you as you are, and I want to see you as I would be more comfortable seeing you”. This completely erases one’s identity, and is essentially another form of white washing. Within the framework of white supremacy, this means that subordinate groups must surrender their identities, beliefs, and values to assimilate by adopting the values and beliefs of privileged-class whites, rather than promoting racial harmony (bell hooks). This thinking has created a fierce cultural protectionism.
Colorblindness is the product of age old institutionalized racism implemented since the founding of this country, or anywhere Europe colonized, for the matter.
One particular anecdote comes to mind told by Oprah. She recalls talking to her neighbor and him saying “Oh, you’re not black. You’re just a neighbor.” She responds “I most certainly am black,” And that was his way of saying “you’re not like what I think other black people are.” This is an obvious example of colorblindness perpetuating harmful, and ignorant stereotypes.
In a society, or rather, a generation that believes it can truly make a difference with racial sensitivity we have to retire this ideology that disregarding someone’s race somehow makes for a more comfortable society. If 81% of people believe in embracing diversity and celebrating differences between the races would improve society, then we have to acknowledge each other’s differences. Colorblindness is a crutch that someone who’s afraid to talk about race relies on.
We are indeed all members the human race, but we will not forsake attachment to race and cultural identity to just be “human”. When you tell someone that you do not see color, you are telling me, and every other person of color that we are invisible.
- Alix Gutierrez -