Too often people of color find themselves trapped between two extremes when it comes to the idea of racism. One side of the pendulum pretends it no longer exists while the other side exaggerates its validity. Neither of these idioms is correct, however, racism continues to be fortified in many aspects within personal, structural and institutional arenas in America. Ignoring it does not make it go away. Instead of acting as if it does not exist, just say you don’t care.
Even in the face of what has now become a “throwback” reality where racism has developed a strong public persona, many still claim Black America needs to get over and stop pulling the race card. The truth is, it does exist and impacts the lives of everyone, including Caucasians. Yes, much progress has been made and indeed should be celebrated, but we cannot deny how it continues to shape a broad spectrum of circumstances in this country while impacting minorities in countless negative ways.
Many in today’s society will explain their view when it comes to race as being colorblind. That is nothing more than a form of hidden racism. It does not come with the negative treatment that outright racial discrimination carries, but it ignores the differences that do exists. It is nothing more than a racial ideology that seeks to treat people as equally as possible, which is, in fact, impossible, because although Black America might be free in one aspect, we will never be equal in society’s overarching mind. Colorblindness creates opportunities for racism to be ignored and undiscussed and, therefore, allowed to thrive on undiagnosed levels.
Perhaps, you don’t care, but the fact remains that racism still exists. This does not discredit the good intention of those who claim to be colorblind. At face value, it appears to be a positive move toward “liberty and justice for all,” however, it is not sufficient to heal racial wounds on a personal or national level. Monica Williams, Ph.D. explains colorblindness as follows:
In a colorblind society, white people, who are unlikely to experience disadvantages due to race, can effectively ignore racism in American life, justify the current social order, and feel more comfortable with their relatively privileged standing in society… Most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives.
Perhaps you feel that this subject matter should not even be addressed on this the first day of what has been deemed Black History Month. This is a time of celebrating all of the positive contributions Black America has made in society. February is the month when we should all hold hands and sing Kumbaya instead of harping on racial inequality. Anyone who supports that train of thought has just confirmed that racism still exists, they just don’t care. Truth is, Black History Month is not for us, instead, it is for other races to pause and acknowledge our existence.
Regardless of the month, racism cannot be ignored as if it has ceased to exist. Not when several cities within this great nation are experiencing levels of racial tension that has not been felt in decades. From police brutality to our own self-sabotage, too many “colored” Americans have come to feel totally disconnected and flat-out threatened by today’s society. So, to say it does not exist is a clear indication that you don’t care!
Racism is alive and well in these United States called America. It doesn’t do any good to pretend it has evaporated into the fibers of history. Although racism has progressed forward from half a century ago, irrational racist bias is still a part of our lives. Yes, laws have moved towards equality and we are quickly approaching the end of the first African-American president’s back-to-back term, but it seems the nation has taken a great leap backward in efforts to mirror historic racism.
Instead of saying racism no longer exists, let’s just call it what it is and acknowledge its presence as an important problem which needs to be addressed. Admission alone does nothing, but it is powerful enough to lay the groundwork for healthy discussions of strategy toward a better day. Politicians must develop the courage to demand that we are treated as individuals and not simply representatives of a certain demographic. It is now time that diversity and race in culture be treated as a conversation, not a lecture. Remember, to act as if racism does not exist is to declare very loudly that you don’t care.
Stay tuned for more on Emancipation with Cherese Jackson!
Psychology Today: Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism
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