Cruz Wears the Colorblind Coat Best

The mockery and hatred in the 2016 Presidential Election has undoTed Cruzubtedly been pointed at Donald Trump, as far as the Republican party goes. His overtly sexist, racist com
ments constantly appear in the news. While I do agree that Trump’s proposed policies and statements have been extremely problematic, the candidate who actually scares me the most is Ted Cruz.

Cruz’s ideas and statements are just as racist and sexist as Trump’s; they are just covered up better so they remain hidden most of the time. Cruz wears what Eduardo Bonilla-Silva would call the perfectly sewn up coat of colorblind rhetoric. Bonilla-Silva explains that an ideology is similar to a garment of clothing. Garments are stitched together, sometimes neatly and tightly, and sometimes loosely. Using colorblind rhetoric in the most strategic way is like stitching up racist framework so well that people don’t even realize the statements are racist.

Cruz often discusses liberty and opportunity for Americans. This general, seemingly well intentioned statement masks the underlying racism that is evident after recognizing the hidden messages. For example, when speaking in Texas, he told his audience that it was nice to be back in America after spending time in Washington D.C. He continued to explain that liberals fear the “American people.” Although it does not seem obvious in the way he speaks, Cruz has associated American with White, and therefore liberties are associated with White liberties. By having this unspoken connection, he is able to express his racist ideology without actually sounding racist.

His immigrant policy is completely in line with Bonilla-Silva’s “Anything but Race” section of Chapter 3 from his book, Racism Without Racists (2010). When asked about immigrant policy, Cruz directed his answer to the idea of overpopulation, which could result in the lowering of wages. He avoids talking about race and instead speaks more about generally having too many people. Therefore, people are less likely to realize how prejudiced these statements are.

By mastering the colorblind rhetorical strategies, is Cruz actually a more harmful candidate than Trump? He avoids talking directly about race all together, which may be most insidious form of racism as it is much subtler and harder to pinpoint. After all, how can racism be dismantled if it can’t be detected?

 

4 thoughts on “Cruz Wears the Colorblind Coat Best

  1. This is something that I often think about as well. I wonder if and how Cruz would be perceived differently if Trump wasn’t in the picture. I think that a lot of the troubling things that Cruz says go completely unrecognized because, as you mentioned, his hatred is not as overt as Trump’s.

    Now that Cruz has removed himself from the race, it’s important to remain aware of what he said and how it went under the radar. We’re going to be seeing a lot more of Donald Trump in the next year (unfortunately), and while his outward bigotry is extremely troubling, hopefully his campaign doesn’t push people further into misunderstandings about the way that racism functions as an implicit narrative in our country.

  2. Being distracted with Donald Trump’s theatrics, I had never noticed this before. I’m incredibly glad that you’ve pointed this out. It’s good to be aware when colorblind strategies are creeping in. The fact that I hadn’t detected it scares me, and the fact that I hadn’t even thought on it scares me more.
    This was very insightful, and it draws attention to something very important that has taken a backseat to craziness.
    The question now is, how do we deal with something so invisible?

  3. This has something I have been very concerned about as well. Donald Trump is furthering the understanding of racism as overt and obvious commentary which, while it may help the American public realize that racism is not over, does not help push the understanding that it comes in many nuanced levels – often undetectable at first. I wonder how the American people could be better trained or made more aware of the ways in which people can be racist without seeming racist? Pre-K crash course in Bonilla-Silva?

  4. My instinct would be to say absolutely, Cruz’s colorblind rhetoric would make him more dangerous. After all, wouldn’t we ferret out the overtly racist among us and kick their candidacies to the curb? However, Trump’s continued popularity shows us, in a horrifying twist, that that simply isn’t happening.

    This post is insightful. I’m glad to see some of this focused on Cruz. Piggybacking off of you, I think it’s important to think about how colorblind rhetoric appeals to the Jacksonian “common man” (read: White man) in the same way that overt speech does. Cruz has also rallied angry Whites who feel “threatened” by the rise of egalitarian values. His way of doing it has been quieter, less comical, but scary nonetheless. That’s why I’m more afraid of him than Donny T.

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