By Sophie Haugen, IV Form
Racial Colorblindness: The Solution to a Delusional Society?
Lois Lowry’s dystopian community of sameness in The Giver appears to be perfect, but this is not true. This world of sameness represses individuality, creating a meaningless world without love. Imagine our world – progressive and controversial – without difference. Upon first glance it seems ideal; no conflict about humanity’s differences or room for judgement. But, would there be any culture or diversity at all? Lowry’s creation of a colorblind society warns our own that while we should strive for equality, “colorblindness” isn’t the answer. Racial colorblindness has been part of discussions around affirmative action in college admissions and the Constitution. Colorblindness is exactly what it sounds like: blindness to skin color, race, and any variety these bring. As an ideal, it’s well-intentioned, but in reality it is a way to pretend race doesn’t exist and to ignore racism as social problem, as well as devalue the importance of culture and difference.
The reason that colorblindness leaves a negative lasting effect is because it condones ignorance of meaningful discussions about race and dispels the importance of race in society. South African writer, Eusebius McKaiser, noted, “Colorblindness is the wrong antidote” to racism. Blindness to race means negligence to the formative eras, culture, and struggle: key aspects that have shaped American history, as well as our current reality.
Conversely, the principle that racial colorblindness gets at is equality, which should be something to strive for. It’s true that while the initial goal behind this concept is equality and improving racism, this aspiration of a “post-racial fantasy” is not a solution to a world that’s so defined by race: the reality is different from the ideal. Colorblindness is acting as though race is absent, while equality means accepting differences and working with them, instead of against them. As Matthew Desmond writes, “The opposite of color-blindness…is simple honesty: honesty about our modes of perception and race-oriented ways of thinking.” No matter who may claim not to “see” race, humans subconsciously and consciously feel race and cannot release the stereotypes that constantly exist in the back of their minds. We shouldn’t have to; race is a daily experience that shapes culture and identity.
The belief that racial difference is nonexistent from society is a delusion that warps reality. Believing that the solution to racism is as simple as ignoring it is nothing more than a hopeful vision for the future—a magical illusion. If we want to fix the racial inequalities that are so prominent in society, the last thing that we should do is act blind to the different races of the world. Instead, we should put emphasis, discussion, and focus on the fascinating components of race.
Ian F. Haney Lopez, “Colorblind to the Reality of Race in America”. The Chronicle Review Nov.
3, 2006, Volume 53, Issue 11, Pages B6-B8.
Matthew Desmond and Mustafa Emirbayer, Racial Domination, Racial Progress: The Sociology
of Race in America (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010).
McKaiser, Eusebius. “Not White Enough, Not Black Enough.” The Opinion Pages. New York
Times, 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 16 Mar. 2016. http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/in-south-africa-after-apartheid-colored-community-is-the-big-loser/?_r=0