Colorblind Ideology and Its Repercussions

At the start of the colorblindness talk last Tuesday, the audience was asked to define colorblindness in laymen’s terms. I was ready to recite the textbook definitions I’d learned in previous classes, but I realized I was having trouble defining colorblindness in simple and relatable terms. I think this automatic pause speaks to the nature of colorblindness; it’s as detrimental as “classic” racism, but its insidious nature makes it more difficult to confront.

Through a hypothetical situation, which takes place in a classroom, colorblindness was explained as an ideology that challenges racism by ignoring it. The situation illustrates how individuals at an early age begin to see obvious differences between individuals of different races and instead of acknowledging and appreciating these differences, they are not only told to ignore these differences, but conditioned to believe that seeing these differences makes us racist.

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Becoming a Hero by Breaking the Silence

There is a four letter word that is as distasteful as its other four letter counter parts and it distorts realities, paralyzes its victims and creates doubt; FEAR. Tatum, addresses the various degrees of fear in the article “Whiteness: the Power of Resistance” (2008) and I beleive the article hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head. Somehow in some way we were taught that different is “bad” and not “normal” and typically, we fear that which we do not know. We claim to “celebrate” our differences in this country but only if those differences don’t permeate the society that we have established. America, it appears, does not respond well to change an irony that confounds me. That being said, it does not mean that we should give up and stop trying to improve. I am sure you are familiar with the old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil” as often times it’s the small squeaky rumblings of society that capture the attention of society; Occupy Wall Street anyone? For me, this means that the “trickle down” theory may not work when dealing with racism but the trickle UP theory may; meaning, change starts with the individual who carries it forward.

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Colorblind Ideology in Children

On Thursday, we talked about the use of colorblind ideology in general, but what I found most interesting was the way in which it was taught to children. In the study by Apfelbaum et al. (2010), children were put into two conditions: one in which colorblind ideology was taught and one in which talking about racial differences was promoted, or the value-diversity condition. The thing that interested me the most was the way in which they explained their reasoning behind either colorblind ideology or talking about racial differences. The color-blind condition focused on similarities. The message that was told to the children was, “…we need to focus on how we are similar to our neighbors rather than how we are different. We want to show everyone that race is not important and that we’re all the same”. The value- diversity version focused on recognizing differences and celebrating them. The statement taught to these students was, “…we need to recognize how we are different from our neighbors and appreciate those differences. We want to show everyone that race is important because our racial differences make each of us special”.

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Identifying with Race

I have been thinking a lot about how silly the concept of being colorblind within society really is. I am currently enrolled in Multicultural psychology and we have been discussing racial identity models. Race is part of the individual’s identity and everyone understands and related to their race and ethnicity on different levels. Not only is racism structurally embedded within our society; it is also what defines the individual.

The understanding one might have of their own identity, separates the individual from others and therefore contributing to racism. If race and ethnicity is a crucial part of ones identity, in order for one to define themselves from others is also critical. The individual defines them self by comparing and contrasting, observing others and their behaviors. When comparisons are made is it possible to make these distinctions without personal biases?

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Children and Racism

After discussing the Devine (1989) article in class, we had a lot to discuss. Unfortunately, in such a short period of time that we have for class, we were unable to talk about all of the implications of this study. This study had three main findings: all individuals are aware of racist stereotypes; individuals, when primed, automatically act on these stereotypes and change their behavior or perception of an individual; and when in a controlled situation, individuals who are low-prejudice will exert the effort to counteract the stereotypes that they are aware of. All in all, this study showed that everyone automatically thinks about stereotypes that exist but, when possible, people use their controlled response to act in a way that does not show their belief in the stereotype. One of the main questions this led us to was, How do individuals learn about these stereotypes? We realized that as early as childhood, individuals know the difference between races and act upon it. Usually, this is learned from a parent, the media, or school settings. Children pick up on cues very easily, and it does not take much for them to learn how others react to people of a different race.

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Is Your Baby Racist? Newsweek Article

After reading Beverly Tatum’s Article, Defining Racism, I remembered a article posted in Newsweek that reminded me of what Tatum is trying to address. Tatum suggests a very bold statement, that every white person is a racist. At first when I heard this it was hard to swallow and think to myself, a white female, that I am in fact a racist. But after looking at Tatum’s definition I realized that indeed I am a racist. Tatum suggests that all White people are racist because they benefit from being white and are given automatic privilege. Now with saying this, it does not mean that all white people are mean and prejudiced against minorities, it just means that we benefit and are therefore racist. So, why is this so important to admit to being racist or accept this title?

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