As a community, we have all heard the sentiment, “I don’t see race” or “I believe that all lives matter.” What some people may not know is that these comments are a form of colorblindness. Colorblindness is a piece of the complex network supporting systemic racism. It ignores the reality that race impacts both interpersonal interactions, as well as institutional policies and practices (Neville, Gallardo, & Wing Sue, 2016).
Colorblindness denies the disparities that exist between communities of color and white people. These disparities are found in education, housing, income, employment, health, and incarceration rates. By saying “I don’t see race”, people mean, “I don’t see my own race” – centering a belief of white superiority (Scruggs, 2009). In the United States white culture is the majority, the default. Because of this, white people do not need to be aware of their race to navigate society. Unlike white people, communities of color regularly face inequities because of their race. Considering this, holding a belief of colorblindness is not a sign of living in a post-racial society, but a continued centering of the white experience.
To combat racism as a society we must be intentional in recognizing the ways that it is perpetuated by our systems. This can be a daunting task, but it is important to remember that we can all work to eliminate racism. Changing our interactions with others and educating ourselves about systems of oppression are both ways we can do this. To learn more about anti-racism strategies, colorblindness, and racial privilege, view these resources below.
- Video: “Color Blind or Color-Conscious?”
- Diane Harriford, professor of sociology, argues that as a society we should aim to be “color-conscious” and not colorblind.
- Book: How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi
- Kendi discusses concepts of racism and Kendi’s proposals for anti-racist individual actions and systemic changes.
- Video: “Colorblind of Color Brave”
- Mellody Hobson makes the case that speaking openly about race makes for better businesses and a better society.
- Study.com: Color Blind Racism: Definition, Theory & Examples
- Lessons on ethnicity and race and explains the history, theory, and examples of colorblindness in America. To view these lessons it does require an account.
For more anti-racism resources, please visit ywcawcmi.org/know-more.