So now that black history month is over and we have gotten our yearly fill of MLK, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Abraham Lincoln (which according to elementary academia were the only major players involved in African American history in America) we can acknowledge that another year is getting ready to go by without anyone with a major voice ever asking the questions that really matter in public. Questions like:
What has happened since the 13th amendment?
What has happened since the civil rights movement?
Are we as a country moving in the right direction?
What direction are we as a country even moving in?
And the list goes on and on and on. But at the heart of all these questions and the theme of most of the debates concerning race relations is this:
What is the goal of the American Society concerning Race?
What I mean by this is, are we moving towards a color respected society or are we moving towards a color tolerant society. This question can be summed up another way as well:
Are we becoming color coordinated or colorblind?
You see what we have nowadays is a nation were race relations is only talked about from the perspectives of the individuals having the discussion. Which doesn’t become a bad thing until you realize that most of the people talking about it in a particular group have the same perspective. Blacks talk to blacks about race relations, whites talk to whites, Hispanics talk to Hispanics and so on and so forth. With this type of behavior happening we are seeing the races get more and more ignorant about each other which seems to push the perspectives farther apart which seems to make it less likely that multicultural discussion of a serious nature will be had by a multicultural group. It’s a very vicious cycle.
This however is a cycle of a colorblind society. A society where it is honestly believed and taught that the color of your skin is only skin deep, completely disregarding all of the social, economic, and cultural ramifications of your skin on your life experience. Blacks and whites don’t experience poverty the same way, we don’t experience wealth the same way, and our cultures interpret these two states differently. I don’t even need to list examples because this is something that at this point is accepted as fact, one of the few real facts to be had out there. In a colorblind society everything is superficial, we don’t talk about race because race is a taboo subject. We don’t qualify based on race and we raise our children to believe that race shouldn’t matter. We tolerate other races and we give them a chance because it is legally and socially right to do so, but it is not because we truly want to or in a lot of cases because they are the best person for the task at hand. In this world despite the physical blending of the races, they are actually getting further and further apart. Those that are caught in the middle are forced to pick a side and role with it subconsciously.
However in a color coordinated society or a colorful society, we freely talk about race relations with respect. Whites are comfortable talking with blacks about what it means to be white or black and how they feel about white or black people. The best person for the job gets the job. The strengths and weaknesses of each culture are accounted for and given a chance to flourish. We understand the difference are more than skin deep, the differences are all over us in the way our bodies move and the way our minds process information. In a colorful society I would not be looked down on or given preferential treatment because of my race and culture, but they would be looked at and paid attention to.
That might be a difficult concept to grasp for some, how could my race be looked at without giving me preferential or detrimental treatment? Think in terms of the IQ test or standardized testing in general (something I don’t agree with), in a colorblind society everyone is given the same test which is standardized based on the cultural majority. That means the language and questions are worded in a way that gives a benefit to those that are in the majority conferring an advantage to the majority. In a colorful society, if general testing is done, the test are standardized to the cultural norms of the people taking the test. That is deeper level race relations, the unconscious doctrines that exist today exist because we refuse to really look at what is going on around us and talk about it. What we have today is a colorblind society, a society that makes everything look good on the surface, but underneath the old intuitions still exist and still thrive. In a colorful society though, those institutions are forced to crumble as we all begin to be comfortable being around each other and begin to allow each other to showcase our strengths for a better society. This can only occur with honest dialogue between the races on what it means to be of a particular race and what it is like to live like that. A discussion that I am not sure will ever happen. But what do you think?
PUBLIC NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of the Urban Intellectuals, affiliates or partners.