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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Colorblind is not a good goal

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The other day I heard someone say he was taught not to notice race or color and isn’t that the goal? I’ve heard this refrain many times throughout my life. I think that was a goal — a misguided one —since the first Civil Rights Movement.

Well-meaning and some not-so-well-meaning people took Dr. King’s words to create this goal of a colorblind society where only the “content of your character matters.”

I’ve long thought King’s goals were twisted and sanitized to make people feel comfortable with the status quo in this country and keep systemic racism from being addressed. It’s why you have pushback for race-based programs such as affirmative action. The thinking goes something like you can’t have a colorblind society if you favor one race over the other. Well, yes, that’s true. However, race-based programs are a correction to a previous wrong, done to create parity. And I’m sorry, but race-based programs for 60 years don’t correct wrongs done for centuries. It’s like when I was a child and had to split a pop with my brother. I poured a little in his cup and a little in mine, trying to keep as it even as possible (sometimes). When I poured too much in one, I didn’t keep pouring and tell him it will correct itself one day. No, I poured more in his cup until we were even again and then went back to pouring a little for him and a little for me. This is all common sense, but common sense goes out the window when Black people are involved.

I have never believed King didn’t want us to see race. He wanted race to not be a factor in our quality of life. He wanted Black Americans to have the same opportunities as white Americans or immigrants who adopt America as their home.

That means not being denied a home loan, and for those who are able to get a home loan, it means getting favorable interest rates, not subprime mortgage loans that left so many Black people in foreclosure during the Great Recession. It means Black students not being seen as older than their white peers and punished more harshly for the same behavior. It also means law enforcement not profiling African Americans, and legislation and judges not rendering harsher sentences for an African American than a white person who commits the same crime. We’ve known for some time now that Black Americans aren’t more prone to criminal activity or drug use than white people, but you wouldn’t know it judging from our prison system.

If not seeing race is a positive then seeing race must be a negative. That seeing race is viewed as a bad thing is wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t want to not see race. I love being Black. I’m OK with any other race or ethnic group being seen through a non-colorblind lense. The problem is people don’t know how to not attach negativity to a race. I don’t want white people feeling guilty about being white — another refrain I’ve often heard. White guilt has never been a goal of mine when calling out white supremacy. Change is the goal.

Speaking of change, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus recently provided an update on its justice reform agenda. IBLC is doing its part to take the energy from 2020 and use it to drive legislation for years to come. IBLC members introduced a number of bills in the House and Senate that directly impact the Black community. Stay updated by following the group’s activity on Facebook.

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