Thursday, July 14, 2016

Why We Can't Be "Color Blind": Taste the Privilege


If the world were color blind, we wouldn't have racism, but unfortunately, the world doesn't work that way. Too many people not only see color (which in itself isn't a bad thing) but also use color as means of casting judgment. And so while those who refuse to see color may not themselves be racist, they can't do anything to fight against racism. It's the difference between refusing to steal and stopping a thief, the difference between refusing to hit your wife and standing up against a man who beats his.

One requires only self-discipline; the other requires courage. 


When you're color blind, you can't see that black people are more likely to refused a job interview on the mere fact that they have a "black sounding name."

When you're color blind, you can't see that black people are more likely to receive longer sentences and harsher penalties than white people having committed the same crime and with the same criminal record.

When you're color blind, you can't see that black people are more likely to be arrested for selling drugs than white people - even though white people sell drugs at a much higher rate.

When you're color blind, you can't see that black people, on the basis of race alone, do not commit more crimes than white people - that the strongest correlative factor for criminal behavior is economic inequality, not race.

When you're color blind, you can't see that black people are more likely to face police brutality (at rates of 15 times higher or more) than white people when compared against the exact same crime and the exact same behavior during police interactions (like resisting arrest and attitude during the interaction).


When you're color blind, you can't see that black communities are least likely to have access to social services, including childcare, transportation, and job training. They are also have less-qualified and lower-paid teachers in their school systems - partly because they receive less funding - and thus have less access to college-prep courses.


When you're color blind, you can't see how all of the above helps to keep black people in poverty, only increasing criminal activity in black neighbors and perpetuating racial stereotypes. 


We call this systemic racism - injustices in the system that repeatedly act against those of a particular race. And you can't see it if you have the luxury, the privilegeof being color blind.

And because you can't see it, you can do nothing to help. You become the blind witnesses of a crime that could have been prevented had you intervened. Color-blind privilege can breed injustice.

Because injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere, we can't afford to be color blind. We have to be willing to see.