A Majority of Americans

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A majority of Americans today would agree that “institutional racism has existed since the colonization of the Americas”; slavery and segregation in the form of Jim Crow laws are prime examples. However, many Americans today believe that we live in a “post-racial society,” especially following the election of our first black president. The biggest questions to ask these people are, when did it end? What policy was completely effective in doing away with white supremacy in America? In order to truly and fully understand how we, as white Americans, can consciously ignore modern systematic racism, we must understand the ideology of “colorblindness” in America.

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(Dolezal, 2018)

Adopting a colorblind ideology completely eliminates the concept of race. However, for many people of color, race is very much a reality. Talking about race is important because if we don’t, it’s as though we’re pretending that slavery, segregation, and all our past and present mistreatments of people of color never existed. There are already racist systems and policies in place, and if we continue to act as if race isn’t a real problem or claim “colorblindness,” changing them will never be a possibility. Who benefits from the suppression of stories of people of color? Certainly not the people of color, who are forced to suppress their identities and bury their experiences. America needs to become a place where these experiences can be heard, valued, and then seriously addressed. (Greenberg, 2016)

Another downside to colorblindness is that it equates color with something negative. The phrase, “I don’t see color, I just see people,” implies that color is a problem and that it’s being ignored. Importantly, this is something that is never said to white people. No one ever says, in reference to a white person, “I don’t see your color, I just see you.” For people of color, whose race is a pivotal part of their personal identities, the comment can make them feel overlooked. The necessity for colorblindness suggests that there’s something wrong with the fact that God made people of color, and that their cultual backgrounds shouldn’t be discussed. The color of a person’s skin has nothing to do with who they are, it’s simply a genetically passed down trait influenced by the geographical location of their ancestors. A person’s skin color doesn’t equate to their character.
Racial labels and terms are complex and often problematic. However, the problems associated with colorblindness are possibly far worse. Without being color-conscious, we would never be able to acknowledge the racial disparities in our society. Some examples of these are inequalities in income, health, and education.

Let’s begin with income inequalities. The typical black household now has just 6% of the wealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%. According to the U.S Census Bureau Survey of Income and Program Participation, the median white household had $111,146 in wealth holdings in 2011 compared to a significantly lower $8,348 for the median Latino household, and $7,113 for the median black household.

African Americans are at a higher risk of having health problems, but they also have less access to healthcare than white Americans. Black Americans die at higher rates from all major causes of mortality in the United States than all white Americans. The most significant differences can be found in deaths by heart attack between black and white Americans. The rate of essential hypertension, a precursor to heart attacks, among black Americans (approximately 37%) is about twice that among white Americans (approximately 18%) (Dressler, 1993, pp. 325-345).

Colorblindness completely invalidates people’s identities. Racial oppression is only one facet of “race”. Race is also now very closely tied with people’s identities and signifies cultures, traditions, languages, and heritage; it can be a genuine source of pride. Race has become a basic ingredient that makes up a person’s being, even if you don’t consciously notice its role in your life. Imagine being forced to suppress something that you openly acknowledge and value about yourself. Denying people of their identities isn’t racial progress, instead, it repushes us back into our racist history.

True progress will come when White Americans no longer feel threatened by the racial identities of groups of color. When people say that they don’t see color, they’re ignoring all of the experiences that people of color have endured. It dismisses and invalidates their experiences with prejudice and stereotypes. Papering over the daily challenges faced by people of color doesn’t make them go away; it just sends a message that those experiences don’t matter enough to be acknowledged, that they don’t need to be talked about (Castro, 2017).

Many sociologists today are extremely critical of the phrase “colorblindness” when discussing race. They argue that as the mechanisms that produce racial inequality have become more covert compared to those prevalent during the era of open and legal segregation, the way we speak about racism has also become more obscure. Not only that, but they also fear that the refusal to acknowledge race allows people to overlook the constant appearances of discrimination in our everyday lives. For the first half of the 20th century, it was entirely legal to deny blacks and other racial minorities basic rights that white Americans had access to, such as housing, voting rights, and jobs. Civil rights reforms helped to make these practices illegal in present-day society, but discrimination still persists through a combination of economic, social, and institutional practices and ideologies.
The colorblind approach to race isn’t an accidental thing. Many of us are taught at a young age that talking about, or even just acknowledging race, is something we don’t do. However, this way of thinking only hurts people of color. We must embrace the differences; we have to talk about it. Pretending that race and racism don’t exist won’t make them go away. It won’t save us from the horrors of our ancestors’ past actions. Colorblindness is just as big a threat to racial justice as White Supremacists. Claiming colorblindness isn’t a way to solve racism; it’s an attempt to shelter ourselves from the horrible reality that is racism in modern America. Promoting colorblindness is easy. Colorblindness eliminates the need to recognize and discuss extremely uncomfortable realities while perpetuating a culture of racism, injustice, and oppression. Acknowledging differences is not racist, but refusing to accept racism for what it is today is.


  • Dolezal, M. J. (2018, February 23). How the Philosophy of “Colorblindness” Can Perpetuate Institutional Racism. Retrieved September 28, 2018, from https://medium.com/@matthewjohn_36675/the-philosophy-of-colorblindness-perpetuates-institutional-racism-9717e90608db
  • Greenberg, J. (2016, July 21). 7 Reasons Why ‘Colorblindness’ Contributes to Racism Instead of Solves It. Retrieved September 28, 2018, from https://everydayfeminism.com/2015/02/colorblindness-adds-to-racism/
  • Sullivan, L., Meschede, T., Dietrich, L., & Shapiro, T. (n.d.). Racial Wealth Gap. Retrieved from https://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/RacialWealthGap_1.pdf
  • Dressler, W. (1993). Health in the African American Community: Accounting for Health Inequalities. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 7(4), new series, 325-345. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/649213
  • Castro, V. (2017, April 25). Do You See in Color? Retrieved from https://www.diversitycouncil.org/single-post/2017/04/25/Do-You-See-in-Color
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A Majority Of Americans. (2020, Feb 04). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/a-majority-of-americans/