MEJIA: Colorblindness will not solve our societal problems


Opinion Column: Feminism In The World

The concept of colorblindness demands that color and race are no longer seen as classifications by which people can be denied certain opportunities. Living in a colorblind society demands that governmental policies reject ideas of discrimination and enforce ideas of a race-neutral world. 

This approach reframes the question surrounding how people experience the world. Certain people no longer have to experience their lives in terms of race and color, but rather live their lives as neutral. 

“Colorblindness is an individual and social idea based upon two primary notions: (1) that to overtly ignore a person's race alleviates the possible racism that might otherwise operate and (2) that the equal opportunity structure of U.S. society means that failures among various racial groups to achieve can be best explained by deficiencies in individuals rather than by inequities that result from group membership,” according to "Encyclopedia of the Social and Cultural Foundations of Education." 

The truth is that a “colorblind society” is only beneficial to those that are already seen as the standard in society. Every person who is not white and belongs to a different racial class, culture or has a different skin color is considered as an “other.” Belonging to America’s white standard means that you do not have to acknowledge your race. You ARE the only race, and everything else is the “other” that exists outside of privilege. 

The truth is that to some, race can be something uncomfortable to speak about, but this does not mean that we get to discount people’s experiences that are directly connected to racism and colorism. Colorblindness is an easy way out of these difficult conversations that prevents us from being able to critically see issues in society that disproportionally affect the “other” while benefiting the standard. 

Ignoring race and color is not the same as not being able to see it. It is just not possible for a person to be fully unable to see race. Institutional implications that run deep throughout history does not allow bias to just disappear because one refuses to acknowledge them.

By taking a colorblind approach, we only reaffirm racial inequalities that exist rather than acknowledging them and working toward a more equal society. Ignoring a system of oppression based on race is not possible, because an unracialized system does not exist. 

We do not get to ignore historical oppression that still greatly effects people in society. Lack of awareness of white privilege creates a demand for a colorblind society that makes it more appealing to those not belonging to the “other.”

Dehumanizing the experiences of those that have to live in the status of the “other” is done by purposely ignoring issues of surrounding race and color. These issues include institutional racism in forms of mass incarceration of Black people, higher-than-average death rates of women of color during childbirth, the ability to walk down the street while Black, being barred from wearing hair in its natural form in the workplace and in so many other ways that transcend “normal” day-to-day interactions. 

People of color are those that belong to the “other.” They are forced into this otherness because their color, race and culture, which are not seen as the American standard. Falling outside of the white standard that America has created makes the experiences of those belonging to the “other” exclusive to them, because racialized experiences are not felt by the standard. 

A colorblind society discredits the experiences of the “other” and continues to validate the experiences of the standard.

Marielis Mejia is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore  majoring in political science and women's and gender studies. Her  column, “Feminism In The World,” runs alternating Wednesdays.

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