Author’s Notes: While this article argues that colorblindness as a concept is problematic, I’d also like to acknowledge that colorblindness as a term is problematic, as it could easily be considered an example of ableist language. In the end, I chose to use the term, but I hope that in ridding ourselves of the concept, we can also rid ourselves of the term.
Thank you to my former students who have shared their race-based experiences, enabling me to write this article.
You’ve heard it said before. You might have been the one to say it.
“I don’t see color. I just see people.”
Or maybe: “We are all just people.”
Or it might have been “…” – the sound of silence.
Such comments (and racial avoidance) have a name: colorblindness.
The colorblind approach to race is not an accidental phenomenon; rather, it is the result of an education – a training – that many of us have received, especially White Americans.
Many of us are taught from an early age that talking about race – even just acknowledging race – is a no-no.
In some ways, colorblindness makes sense: Race can be uncomfortable – its mere mention can thicken the air with tension.
Moreover, this country’s racist history is deeply uncomfortable: “Let’s just start fresh in a world where we don’t acknowledge racial differences and, with luck, we can move beyond our racist past. After all, this country is a big melting pot anyway.”
Unfortunately, like many other lessons we have been taught – drinking juice is good for you,complimenting appearances is always nice, menstruation is gross and shameful, asking Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders where they are really from is okay – colorblind ideology is fraught with problems and pitfalls.
Before I elaborate, please don’t feel judged if you have espoused such an approach in the past.
As I mentioned, how could many of us not do so after years of training?
I have spent nearly 15 years in public high school classrooms, and my students – particularly my students of color – have provided a wealth of evidence that, when it comes to colorblindness, we desperately require an alternate training.
Since it’s the responsibility of White folks to educate ourselves and each other (and not expect people of color to be our trainers), I encourage you take to heart the seven reasons I’ve already been taught:
1. Colorblindness Invalidates People’s Identities
Because of the prevalence and history of racism, just the word “race” can conjure negative connotations.
……….. read more …………
By Mohamed Younis
DECEMBER 11, 2015
The terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California, has brought the ongoing conversation about Muslim Americans, identity and extremism back onto the national stage. Over the past several years, Gallup has conducted a number of studies on perceptions of Muslims and Islam among the American public. Gallup has also studied the Muslim-American community itself in comparison to other religious groups in the U.S., most recently using 2015 Gallup Daily tracking data.
In the wake of the San Bernardino attack, an old debate about the so-called responsibility of Muslims to condemn acts of terror has gained steam. U.S. faith groups have historically been divided on whether Muslim Americans are more obligated to speak out against terrorism than other groups, with Muslims themselves also divided on the issue. Yet when it comes to their own views, Muslim Americans are the most likely of all religious groups to disavow military as well as individual or group attacks against civilians, with large majorities saying these are never justified.
Four in 10 Americans (43%) in previous Gallup surveys have self-reported harboring some degree of prejudice toward Muslims. Prejudice toward Muslims was higher than self-reported prejudice toward any of the various religious groups tested. Additionally, nearly half (or more) of respondents from all religious groups agree with the statement that “most Americans are prejudiced toward Muslim Americans.” Muslims are also the most likely group among religious groups in the U.S. to report having personally experienced racial or religious discrimination.
On Loyalty to the U.S.:
While the debate about Muslim Americans’ loyalty and role in countering extremism may highlight some of the public mistrust regarding Muslim Americans, nearly half (or more) of all religious groups in the U.S. recognize that Muslims do face considerable prejudice, and a majority of all groups say Muslims are also loyal to the U.S.
Gallup’s research has shown that Muslim Americans identify equally with their faith and country.
On al Qaeda:
Additionally, a majority of all religious groups in the U.S. disagree with the statement that “Muslims living in this country are sympathetic to al Qaeda.” Other than Muslims (92%), Americans with no religious affiliation (75%) and Jews (70%) are most likely to disagree with the statement that Muslim Americans harbor sympathies for al Qaeda.
On Confidence in U.S. Institutions:
Interestingly, Americans who think their Muslim peers are loyal to the U.S. are more likely than those who question this loyalty to have confidence in a number of major U.S. institutions such as the judicial system (63% vs. 41%), the honesty of elections (49% vs. 27%), the media (29% vs. 14%), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (73% vs. 61%) and the local police (82% vs. 75%).
This apparent deficit of confidence in national institutions among those who say Muslim Americans are not loyal to the U.S. is particularly interesting considering the current political discourse. In fact, government incompetence has been a major campaign theme of candidates, such as Donald Trump and Ben Carson, who have been most vocal on questioning the loyalty of Muslims and the compatibility of being a Muslim and a patriotic American. Statements implying that Muslims must reject their faith to run for president or should be treated with broad-brush suspicion in the country’s immigration process have often come from campaigns whose major themes include a focus on distrust of government as well as government incompetence. Donald Trump’s suggestion on banning all Muslim entry to the U.S. is presented based on the reasoning that government has failed at executing a more thorough and security-focused immigration process.
On the Possibility of a Muslim President:
Interestingly, 60% of Americans overall say they would vote for an otherwise well-qualified Muslim for president, statistically on par with the percentage who would vote for an atheist (58%) but lower than the percentage who would vote for a Catholic (93%), a Jew (91%), a Mormon (81%) or an evangelical Christian (73%).
On the Diversity of Muslims in the U.S.:
As the discourse in the U.S. continues to focus on Muslim identity, loyalty and Muslims’ role in countering extremism, Gallup data reveal a Muslim-American population that skews young and is racially diverse.
A detailed analysis of the profile of 943 Muslims interviewed as part of Gallup Daily tracking in 2015 shows that Americans who identify their religion as Muslim are the youngest and most racially diverse religious group in the U.S. Some 42% of Muslims are 18 to 29, compared with 17% of Protestants and 19% of Catholics who fall into the same age bracket. At the other end of the age spectrum, only 4% of Muslims are 65 and older, compared with 24% of Protestants and 20% of Catholics. Muslims are the only religious group to lack a majority race or ethnicity, with 36% self-identifying as non-Hispanic black, 27% as non-Hispanic white, 21% as Asian and 8% as Hispanic.
On Muslims’ Life Evaluations:
Muslim Americans’ life evaluations are not significantly higher or lower than those of other religious groups in the United States. Data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2015 show that 56% of Muslims rate their lives highly enough to be classified as thriving and 4% suffering, roughly the same as several other religious groups, with the exception of Jews, both within the overall community and among young adults. Jews have the highest thriving rates of any religious group, with 64% thriving and 2% suffering. By way of comparison, 55% of all Americans are thriving and 4% are suffering.
On Political Leanings of Muslims:
The political leanings of Muslim Americans also paint an interesting picture. At 66%, the percentage of Muslims who identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party is the highest of any major religious group, ahead of the 60% of Jewish Americans who identify as or lean Democratic. This contrasts with 17% of Mormons, 43% of Catholics and 39% of Protestants who identify as or lean toward the Democrats. On the other hand, Muslim Americans have the lowest percentage of any religious group who identify as or lean Republican, at 16%. By comparison, 31% of Jews, 72% of Mormons, 41% of Catholics and 48% of Protestants identify as or lean Republican.
Muslims’ religiosity — based on self-reported religious service attendance (42% at least weekly) and importance of religion (79%) — is on par with Protestants’ religiosity (41% and 81%, respectively), but is less than that of Mormons (87% and 66%, respectively), the most religious group in the U.S.
In the coming days, stay tuned for new Gallup data on the American public’s perceptions of the threat of terrorism in light of the recent attacks.
From the 1880s into the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through “Jim Crow” laws (so called after a black character in minstrel shows). From Delaware to California, and from North Dakota to Texas, many states (and cities, too) could impose legal punishments on people for consorting with members of another race. The most common types of laws forbade intermarriage and ordered business owners and public institutions to keep their black and white clientele separated. Here is a sampling of laws from various states.
Nurses: No person or corporation shall require any white female nurse to nurse in wards or rooms in hospitals, either public or private, in which negro men are placed. Alabama
Buses: All passenger stations in this state operated by any motor transportation company shall have separate waiting rooms or space and separate ticket windows for the white and colored races. Alabama
Railroads: The conductor of each passenger train is authorized and required to assign each passenger to the car or the division of the car, when it is divided by a partition, designated for the race to which such passenger belongs. Alabama
Restaurants: It shall be unlawful to conduct a restaurant or other place for the serving of food in the city, at which white and colored people are served in the same room, unless such white and colored persons are effectually separated by a solid partition extending from the floor upward to a distance of seven feet or higher, and unless a separate entrance from the street is provided for each compartment. Alabama
Pool and Billiard Rooms: It shall be unlawful for a negro and white person to play together or in company with each other at any game of pool or billiards. Alabama
Toilet Facilities, Male: Every employer of white or negro males shall provide for such white or negro males reasonably accessible and separate toilet facilities. Alabama
Intermarriage: The marriage of a person of Caucasian blood with a Negro, Mongolian, Malay, or Hindu shall be null and void. Arizona
Intermarriage: All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent to the fourth generation inclusive, are hereby forever prohibited. Florida
Cohabitation: Any negro man and white woman, or any white man and negro woman, who are not married to each other, who shall habitually live in and occupy in the nighttime the same room shall each be punished by imprisonment not exceeding twelve (12) months, or by fine not exceeding five hundred ($500.00) dollars. Florida
Education: The schools for white children and the schools for negro children shall be conducted separately. Florida
Juvenile Delinquents: There shall be separate buildings, not nearer than one fourth mile to each other, one for white boys and one for negro boys. White boys and negro boys shall not, in any manner, be associated together or worked together. Florida
Mental Hospitals: The Board of Control shall see that proper and distinct apartments are arranged for said patients, so that in no case shall Negroes and white persons be together. Georgia
Intermarriage: It shall be unlawful for a white person to marry anyone except a white person. Any marriage in violation of this section shall be void. Georgia
Barbers: No colored barber shall serve as a barber [to] white women or girls. Georgia
Burial: The officer in charge shall not bury, or allow to be buried, any colored persons upon ground set apart or used for the burial of white persons. Georgia
Restaurants: All persons licensed to conduct a restaurant, shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room or serve the two races anywhere under the same license. Georgia
Amateur Baseball: It shall be unlawful for any amateur white baseball team to play baseball on any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of a playground devoted to the Negro race, and it shall be unlawful for any amateur colored baseball team to play baseball in any vacant lot or baseball diamond within two blocks of any playground devoted to the white race. Georgia
Parks: It shall be unlawful for colored people to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the benefit, use and enjoyment of white persons…and unlawful for any white person to frequent any park owned or maintained by the city for the use and benefit of colored persons. Georgia
Wine and Beer: All persons licensed to conduct the business of selling beer or wine…shall serve either white people exclusively or colored people exclusively and shall not sell to the two races within the same room at any time. Georgia
Reform Schools: The children of white and colored races committed to the houses of reform shall be kept entirely separate from each other.Kentucky
Circus Tickets: All circuses, shows, and tent exhibitions, to which the attendance of…more than one race is invited or expected to attend shall provide for the convenience of its patrons not less than two ticket offices with individual ticket sellers, and not less than two entrances to the said performance, with individual ticket takers and receivers, and in the case of outside or tent performances, the said ticket offices shall not be less than twenty-five (25) feet apart. Louisiana
Housing: Any person…who shall rent any part of any such building to a negro person or a negro family when such building is already in whole or in part in occupancy by a white person or white family, or vice versa when the building is in occupancy by a negro person or negro family, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not less than twenty-five ($25.00) nor more than one hundred ($100.00) dollars or be imprisoned not less than 10, or more than 60 days, or both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the court. Louisiana
The Blind: The board of trustees shall…maintain a separate building…on separate ground for the admission, care, instruction, and support of all blind persons of the colored or black race. Louisiana
Intermarriage: All marriages between a white person and a negro, or between a white person and a person of negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, or between a white person and a member of the Malay race; or between the negro a nd a member of the Malay race; or between a person of Negro descent, to the third generation, inclusive, and a member of the Malay race, are forever prohibited, and shall be void. Maryland
Railroads: All railroad companies and corporations, and all persons running or operating cars or coaches by steam on any railroad line or track in the State of Maryland, for the transportation of passengers, are hereby required to provide separate cars or coaches for the travel and transportation of the white and colored passengers. Maryland
Education: Separate schools shall be maintained for the children of the white and colored races. Mississippi
Promotion of Equality: Any person…who shall be guilty of printing, publishing or circulating printed, typewritten or written matter urging or presenting for public acceptance or general information, arguments or suggestions in favor of social equality or of intermarriage between whites and negroes, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to fine or not exceeding five hundred (500.00) dollars or imprisonment not exceeding six (6) months or both. Mississippi
Intermarriage: The marriage of a white person with a negro or mulatto or person who shall have one-eighth or more of negro blood, shall be unlawful and void. Mississippi
Hospital Entrances: There shall be maintained by the governing authorities of every hospital maintained by the state for treatment of white and colored patients separate entrances for white and colored patients and visitors, and such entrances shall be used by the race only for which they are prepared. Mississippi
Prisons: The warden shall see that the white convicts shall have separate apartments for both eating and sleeping from the negro convicts. Mississippi
Education: Separate free schools shall be established for the education of children of African descent; and it shall be unlawful for any colored child to attend any white school, or any white child to attend a colored school. Missouri
Intermarriage: All marriages between…white persons and negroes or white persons and Mongolians…are prohibited and declared absolutely void…No person having one-eighth part or more of negro blood shall be permitted to marry any white person, nor shall any white person be permitted to marry any negro or person having one-eighth part or more of negro blood. Missouri
Education: Separate rooms [shall] be provided for the teaching of pupils of African descent, and [when] said rooms are so provided, such pupils may not be admitted to the school rooms occupied and used by pupils of Caucasian or other descent. New Mexico
Textbooks: Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them. North Carolina
Libraries: The state librarian is directed to fit up and maintain a separate place for the use of the colored people who may come to the library for the purpose of reading books or periodicals. North Carolina
Militia: The white and colored militia shall be separately enrolled, and shall never be compelled to serve in the same organization.No organization of colored troops shall be permitted where white troops are available, and while white permitted to be organized, colored troops shall be under the command of white officers. North Carolina
Transportation: The…Utilities Commission…is empowered and directed to require the establishment of separate waiting rooms at all stations for the white and colored races. North Carolina
Teaching: Any instructor who shall teach in any school, college or institution where members of the white and colored race are received and enrolled as pupils for instruction shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined in any sum not less than ten dollars ($10.00) nor more than fifty dollars ($50.00) for each offense. Oklahoma
Fishing, Boating, and Bathing: The [Conservation] Commission shall have the right to make segregation of the white and colored races as to the exercise of rights of fishing, boating and bathing. Oklahoma
Mining: The baths and lockers for the negroes shall be separate from the white race, but may be in the same building. Oklahoma
Telephone Booths: The Corporation Commission is hereby vested with power and authority to require telephone companies…to maintain separate booths for white and colored patrons when there is a demand for such separate booths. That the Corporation Commission shall determine the necessity for said separate booths only upon complaint of the people in the town and vicinity to be served after due hearing as now provided by law in other complaints filed with the Corporation Commission. Oklahoma
Lunch Counters: No persons, firms, or corporations, who or which furnish meals to passengers at station restaurants or station eating houses, in times limited by common carriers of said passengers, shall furnish said meals to white and colored passengers in the same room, or at the same table, or at the same counter. South Carolina
Child Custody: It shall be unlawful for any parent, relative, or other white person in this State, having the control or custody of any white child, by right of guardianship, natural or acquired, or otherwise, to dispose of, give or surrender such white child permanently into the custody, control, maintenance, or support, of a negro. South Carolina
Libraries: Any white person of such county may use the county free library under the rules and regulations prescribed by the commissioners court and may be entitled to all the privileges thereof. Said court shall make proper provision for the negroes of said county to be served through a separate branch or branches of the county free library, which shall be administered by [a] custodian of the negro race under the supervision of the county librarian. Texas
Education: [The County Board of Education] shall provide schools of two kinds; those for white children and those for colored children. Texas
Theaters: Every person…operating…any public hall, theatre, opera house, motion picture show or any place of public entertainment or public assemblage which is attended by both white and colored persons, shall separate the white race and the colored race and shall set apart and designate…certain seats therein to be occupied by white persons and a portion thereof , or certain seats therein, to be occupied by colored persons. Virginia
Railroads: The conductors or managers on all such railroads shall have power, and are hereby required, to assign to each white or colored passenger his or her respective car, coach or compartment. If the passenger fails to disclose his race, the conductor and managers, acting in good faith, shall be the sole judges of his race. Virginia
Intermarriage: All marriages of white persons with Negroes, Mulattos, Mongolians, or Malaya hereafter contracted in the State of Wyoming are and shall be illegal and void. Wyoming