Surprise! Racism does not always come from the minds of racists.
Whether you experience it or not, the issue of racism is still very prevalent in a diversified country like America. And whether you believe it or not, there are many actions that are considered to be racist even though being racist was not the intent. It is called “Color-blind Racism”, a type of racial discrimination where people of color are unintentionally disregarded when someone is selecting individuals to participate in an activity or service. Not only is this very prevalent in our current society, but it is very harmful as color-blind racism often stems from cultural racism and predisposed stereotypes.
American Sociologist and Professor of Sociology at Duke University, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, has discussed his views on systemic racism in America even despite the lack of people doing or saying things that are not overly racist. Bonilla-Silva has discussed the four different central frames of racial colorblindness in his book Racism Without Racist that was published in 2013, stating that abstract liberalism, naturalism, cultural racism, and minimization of racism are at the core of color-blind racism.
Racism never went away, it just became harder to identify.
Of course racial discrimination is not as severe as it had been during the era of Martin Luther King, an advocate and leader of the Civil Rights Movement, but there are still many changes that need to be made in order to diminish racial discrimination and the notion that some races are superior to others solely based one’s racial and ethnic background. With the growing exposure of discrimination to adolescents through online and real life interactions comes the ideology that people of color are somehow lesser than those of Caucasian and/or European descent. This ideology that is spreading and being implanted into the minds of adolescents is dangerous because it causes a sense of depleted self worth in the youth that identifies as a person of color.
In a scholarly journal called Social Bias: Prejudice, Stereotyping, and Discrimination written by Sabrina Keene, Keene explains social bias, prejudice, and stereotyping and how it affects the lives of individuals from day to day. She explains that ”Individuals who do not fall victim to bias are often able to use such circumstances as motivating factors. Individuals are often afraid of what they do not know. The best defense against ignorance is knowledge. Education and familiarization with the object of a prejudice or stereotype allows the truth to be discovered and applied. Being educated allows an individual the ability to embrace and accept differences in other, and aids in bringing society together”. As Keene perfectly explains, a person who falls victim to stereotypes and prejudice is likely to feel defeated and have negative connotations towards others. People of color that experience color-blind racism everyday can either fall victim or use this newly found ignorance to their advantage. When people begin to familiarize themselves with racial discrimination toward people of color, even if it doesn’t apply to them personally, there are able to gain a newly found sympathy for the individual. Once a social bias is destroyed, society gets one step closer to eliminating racial discrimination due to less people spreading the negative ideals and more people being educated on the effects of discrimination and why they can cause people of color to feel anger toward those trying to suppress them.
In order to bring all groups in society closer, we need to work together as a whole. We need to understand people of color and educate those who are ignorant to our history. We need to be more empathetic. We need to unify. We need to strive for change.