Colorblindness Not a Goal

To the Editors:

I want to start off by thanking you for including the “Anti-Racism Unpacked” segment in the last issue of the Review. I, along with many of my peers here, was brought up to avoid the topic of race. As far as I can tell, however, avoiding the topic of race only perpetuates racism, so the more we discuss it, the more we work to eliminate it.
The part of the segment that disturbed me was the last sentence: “Color blindness is a goal; color consciousness is a way to action.” I believe that “colorblindness” is not and should not be a goal in our work towards a society free of oppression.
Much of my generation was brought up to be “colorblind,” including me. If we can’t see skin color, we can’t discriminate against it, right? Wrong. Besides the fact that it’s impossible to believe that sighted people don’t actually see skin color, “colorblindness” as a goal ignores those facets of race other than skin color such as culture, religion, etc. Of course race and culture, or race and religion do not always come as a package, but race and skin color do not either. Some people’s skin color is the same as my own, but they identify as black, Latina/o or Asian American. Pretending that skin color is the sole determinant of the thing we call “race” is inaccurate.
In my experience, colorblindness has only put up a barrier to keep me from dealing with racism. We’re taught that we’re supposed to be colorblind, so when we notice race, we can’t discuss it because we’re not supposed to see it. Racism exists, we all know that, and not talking about it is not making it go away. We can’t fight it if we can’t even acknowledge what it is without feeling guilty.
“Colorblindness” as an end to racism also assumes that racism only exists in its personal prejudice form. This discounts institutional and cultural racism, such as racial profiling by the police, or mass marketing of “inner-city” hip-hop culture to white suburban youth. These forms of racism are just as present, and in many cases, far more oppressive and
destructive than discrimination against one person by another.
Much as we wish it wasn’t true, “colorblindness” also often means, consciously or not, “everyone should assimilate into one race.” I believe that our racial and cultural differences are unique and extraordinary. We should not have to give up our heritage and our identity in favor of assimilating into a colorless world.
We should cherish and celebrate our differences. The goal of our work towards equality and against oppression should be diversity, not conformity. Our lives would be far less rich if we did not have our own individual stories, personalities and cultures to share with each other. Denying the differences between us that come with our races is denying each of our cultures, histories and personalities. To me, diversity is a goal; deconstructing the power structures and assumptions that create oppression is the way to take action.

–Abbey Tennis
Second-semester sophomore

October 5
October 12

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