Modern Racism & “The Color of Fear”

The Color of Fear video clip

The link that I posted is from the documentary “The Color of Fear.” I remember watching this in Multicultural Psychology last year, and after we read and discussed the Nelson chapter (Old-Fashioned versus Modern Racism) this is one of the first things that came to mind. In class we discussed modern racism as the conflicting feeling of negative attitudes towards blacks and feeling that racism is wrong. Other components of modern racism are the ideas that racism is over as well as the idea of meritocracy (the idea that someone is either succeeding or failing based on their own personal merit).

When watching The Color of Fear, and listening to David (the white man talking in the video clip) the ideas of modern racism are directly shown. In this clip, David expressed to the group that society is filled with open opportunities and that blacks think of whites as a block from making progress. David saying he believes that blacks view whites as a block from progress shows that he does not recognize that racism is still continuing in America today. Later on in the video David says that, “we feel that the field is wide open and each man can stand on his own.” These ideas that David presented throughout the video directly related to the ideas of modern racism. The ideas of meritocracy and the American Dream would support the belief that everyone has an equal opportunity, and their hard work/ merit is what leads to their potential success or failure. When David said “each man should stand on his own,” it made me think of the modern racist belief that programs/ work done to benefit blacks (ex. Affirmative Action) are unfair. This documentary displays many different topics that we have discussed in class, as well as different forms racism can take on. If anyone in the class has never seen this documentary, I would definitely recommend viewing some clips from it (there are many different scenes from it on YouTube!)

2 thoughts on “Modern Racism & “The Color of Fear””

  1. I also remember this documentary and think it is a very interesting representation of race relations. It became a safe (but meant for public) space for these people of different races to come together and say what they wanted to say about their own experiences and their interactions with other people. If I remember correctly, the film focused primarily on the structural forms of racism more so than overt expressions of racism. They brought up some forms of overt instances, but mainly they talked about how the system of America is discriminatory towards people of color, and that the way it is embedded into our society makes it so most people don’t even realize racism exists. While overt expression of racism by “bigots” has decreased over the years, structural discrimination has not; and people are still oblivious to its existence. Thus, I think that if this video was recreated, the results would be similar. People like them would be having the same conversation because this type of racism is still extremely prevalent and the same people experience it in the same ways that they did in 1994.

  2. I also remember watching this video and I agree that it is a great example of all the concepts we have been talking about in class. One interesting thing would be to re-create the study that was done for this movie, since it was done a long time ago. Do you think that the same problems would be addressed in the same way? In our past reading on modern racism and aversive racism I want to suggest that the issues would still be the same but maybe the way in which they addressed them would be more carfully worded, due to aversive racism.

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