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Why Being ‘Colorblind’ Towards Race Just Isn’t Gonna Cut It

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e’ve all heard the term. Often, it is preceded by “I’m not a racist” and followed by a thin-lipped, triumphant smile, as if claiming to possess the figurative version of a medical deficiency is the key to an automatic win in any argument about race. Sometimes, it is not directly stated so much as it is implied, disguised in phrases akin to “I don’t see a skin color, only a person”. While the word and its ideological usage may seem innocent and even admirable at first glance, its insinuations are in fact no more noble than any other, more obvious manifestations of racism.

As with all microaggressions, the major issue with claiming racial colorblindness as a suitable mentality ultimately leads back to the concept of privilege. White people can afford to be ‘colorblind’ for the same reasons they can choose to opt out of things like combatting racist political figures; their own skin color will never cause them systematic, societal disadvantages that people of color are doomed to face – whether they choose to acknowledge it or not.

To neglect the impacts and even the mere existence of race is to obliterate the cultural and historical facets that go hand-in-hand with one’s heritage. For many people of color, race is as significant and highly valued as any other category of self-identification (gender, sexuality, religion, etc.) – identities that a white person has no right to erase or attempt to claim.

“White individuals who employ this method are implicitly choosing to look past the darker hues of another’s skin tone and treat them as human despite what they’ve deemed deviant from the “norm” of whiteness.”

Additionally, many white people promote racial colorblindness with a “problem solved” sort of disposition. In actuality, ignoring the visible differences between those of various races makes the problem worse. This is because principles of racism do not exist on merely an individual plane. While it is imperative for white members of society to start from within (by acknowledging their own inherent privileges and racist tendencies), stopping there will not prompt any true change but the triviality of feeling better about oneself. Believe it or not, the fight against racism is a never-ending battle that extends far beyond whether or not white people should be allowed to use the n-word (they shouldn’t, btw).

The entire notion that colorblindness toward race should ever be utilized implies that non-white skin is something taboo, undesirable, or negative. White individuals who employ this method are implicitly choosing to look past the darker hues of another’s skin tone and treat them as human despite what they’ve deemed deviant from the “norm” of whiteness. Essentially, their ‘colorblindness’ is effective on every skin tone except their own – virtually never will a white person approach another white person with a racially colorblind mentality. This truth ties back into the fact that racial colorblindness is really nothing more than racial erasure (eracesure, if you will).

The epidemic of colorblindness running rampant amongst white people only serves to promote ignorance and provides a cop-out to a much larger issue. Don’t let yourself succumb to it- one’s ability to see color is not the real issue at hand.

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Rachel Terrell
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Rachel is a 19-year-old nap enthusiast who is currently studying journalism at VCU. Things that bring her joy include pink skies, The X Files, her guinea pig, alliterations, and getting the answers that she wanted on Buzzfeed quizzes. She has been a staff writer for Affinity Magazine since December 2016.

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