The Danger of Being Colorblind

America is in turmoil.

Oh you don’t think so? Well, let me give you some names. Trayvon Martin. Tamir Rice. Oscar Grant. Michael Brown. Walter Scott. Sandra Bland. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray.

What do these names have in common? They were all either killed by police, died in police custody, or were killed by a citizen. Did I mention out of the aforementioned cases Walter Scott and Freddie Gray are the only ones where there may be a potential conviction? The other cases saw defendants acquitted or not indicted. What else? They are all African-American.

The epidemic of African-American deaths by the police has been met with much controversy and crossfire. The Black Lives Matter movement started as a protest against police brutality (more to come on that). In turn, the opposition started an All Lives Matter movement. Communication is failing everywhere we turn because people aren’t listening to each other One side says, “Hands up! Don’t shoot!” The opposition replies, “Pants Up! Don’t loot!” Americans have scrambled to pick a side all the while failing to realize they lack seeing the real root of the problem.

Racism.

Oh yes. That dirty, ugly, filthy word. The word that is over used and under acknowledged. The word that makes you roll your eyes because it totally doesn’t remain. Apparently, racism ceased to exist when President Obama was elected. After all, a black man is in arguably the most powerful position in the world. So, that means everyone is treated unequivocally. Right?

Wrong.

Side Note: If the prior paragraph describes your reaction to hearing “racism,” then we need to sit down and have a serious discussion.

Racism is alive, well, and pressing forward. Except things have changed. It’s no longer lynchings, racial slurs, and fear of walking down the street. It is now implicit. It’s excuses and distractions designed to divert attention. It’s not acknowledging racial prejudice in front of your face. It’s being colorblind.

There’s a movement in America to be colorblind. This means we should not see the color of one’s skin, but see them as people. Color doesn’t matter, but our actions, words, and who we are as an individual should be at the forefront.

I disagree.

Only in part, so hear me out. Yes, we should see people as individuals.  Part of recognizing their individuality is seeing who they are. I am African-American. Can’t escape it. Don’t want to. See it. Make peace with it (if you need to do that, then I don’t want you around me anyway), and understand that life will be different for me than it will be for a Caucasian, Mexican, Hispanic, or any other race/ethnicity.

I hear you arguing. I hear you saying everyone has the same opportunities. I hear it. That’s the problem with being colorblind. It looks like we are living in a balanced society where everyone gets the same chance. That may not always be the case. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s some proof.

http://www.nyclu.org/content/stop-and-frisk-data

In the first two quarters of 2015, New Yorkers were stopped by the police 13,604 times.
11,124 were totally innocent (81 percent).
7,158 were black (54 percent).
3,944 were Latino (29 percent).
1,541 were white (12 percent).

That’s a disquieting statistic, huh? I’d say so. Look at the percentage of African-Americans that were randomly stopped and frisked. Why is that? Some would say the police were just doing their job, and I would agree in part. However, the number of those who were found innocent is alarmingly high. At what point do we look at racial profiling as a problem? In this America, we don’t. We justify the statistics (African-Americans have been the lead percentage in stop and frisk since 2002) and blame the victim. Or, throw out other stats to justify being stopped and frisked for no reason.

One of my favorite justifications is the “African-Americans account for only 13% of the population. Yet, they commit 50% of the gross crime in the nation.” I have to laugh at that. Out of all of the black people I know, only two have been to jail for gross crime. That’s two out of hundreds. And I’m supposed to believe we are all murderous thugs? Pffft…

Do you see the problem with being colorblind now? It’s a failure to recognize a simple fact. Our systemic structure treats its members differently according to race. You could add class in there as well.

How do we change this thought process?

The million dollar question. I have an answer. See. Understand. Acknowledge. Stop giving excuses as to why racism plays no part in society. Accepting an individual means understanding the similarities and differences of their life experience. This includes the color of their skin. Stop being colorblind.

See me.

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28 Comments Add yours

  1. Ellen Hawley says:

    Well thought out and well argued. I’ll post a link on Notes either later today (Friday) or on Saturday. The delay is to create some space between the link and a scheduled post, so it gets seen.

    And just to add another, less pressing, element to your argument, to not see color (or ethnicity, or culture) also strikes me as a way of not seeing the otherness of an individual from another background. It makes us all appear to be like the seer, which we’re not and don’t necessarily want to be. It’s a good way to minimize the seer’s fear but not a great way to expand their knowledge of the world. In the name of respect, it doesn’t respect that other person’s experience of life. Many of the people who do this are people of goodwill, and I don’t want to minimize the importance of that, but it’s not enough.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      I like that thought. I was trying to find a way to express those very words. It seems a though you have a knack at expressing my feelings lol.. Thank you for reposting. I really appreciate it!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Alice says:

        Couldn’t agree with you more — this idea that “not seeing color” is somehow virtuous, or non-racist, or anything other than a gross erasure of other people’s lived realities? Pffft, indeed!

        Got here via the link Ellen posted. Thanks to you both!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Jarrod Brown says:

        Thanks for giving it a read!! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. shielders anonymous says:

    Ok Mr. Brown, you went all the way in on this one and I couldn’t agree with you more. The disparities in the way Caucasians and people of color are treated are blatant but not acknowledged by society. When an ethnic person speaks out about being treated differently the response is snarky and sarcastic. It’s almost as if wanting the same opportunities, respect and benefit of the doubt is asking for too much, much less acknowledging that there is a distinct difference.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. pixieannie says:

    This certainly gave me something to discuss with my partner and sparked an interesting conversation. A thought provoking post and one that I shall revisit throughout the course of the day, in the hope I can give a more interesting reply.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      Awesome! That’s all I wanted to do. Inspire thought and create discussion. I’ve received mixed responses on the subject matter. That’s to be expected because it’s such a controversial topic.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pixieannie says:

        It led me to think about other issues and in particular, coming across a person that requires help in one form or another. I’ll gladly stop and offer my assistance but have been told by some of my friends that I should not do so incase I get sued. Really? Slightly off topic, sorry. I’m keen to see the figures relating to arrests in London and so will be back shortly when I’ve accessed the information.

        Like

  4. pixieannie says:

    It may take me some time to wade through the many pages of statistics relating to this topic. What is intriguing is the proportion of white people being stopped and subsequently charged for crimes such as drug possession and use, as opposed to the number of black people. There appears to be such a disparity in the statistics.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      Yes, there is a humongous disparity. It’s things like that disparity that stirs me up. People get mad that I mention being Black in America hasn’t changed as much as it’s been projected. I get ridiculed, but oh well. The stats say otherwise, and I’m not a stats buff by any means.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. pixieannie says:

        There are some interesting discussions on education, welfare and job opportunities, as well as role models in the media. That doesn’t explain arrest rates and subsequent prosecution though….

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Jarrod Brown says:

        Exactly! I think people see African-Americans thriving in positions that were mainly held by Caucasians. I love that there’s growth, but there’s an undercurrent people miss. That’s why I said racism is now implicit. I read that in a social psychology book and it has really resonated with me.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Dan Antion says:

    I like this post, but I don’t think being colorblind or not is a binary decision. Many things are wrong in this country, and racism is high on the list, if not at the top. We have to change that, but, unfortunately, we have to accept the change will not come quickly. Being colorblind is a start. By that I mean we should be colorblind in our judgement when it comes to who we might introduce ourselves to, who we might want to sit next to at a bar, who we might want in school with our children and who we might like to know better. Only after taking those first steps can we begin to understand the back story. We do need to understand that race plays a role in society and recognize that role when it is unfair. In those cases, we should not be colorblind, we should be aware. I am glad you linked this post to Ellen’s so that I found it.

    Like

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      Hey! I glad you liked it and I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the matter. I understand what you’re saying, and I agree.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dan Antion says:

        Thanks. I’m always a little nervous when kinda-sorta disagreeing. It’s such an important topic. I admire your ability to approach it head on. I only seem to be able to approach from the sides.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Jarrod Brown says:

        Honestly, I’ve had to deal with this topic head on my whole life. Mix that in with parents/grandparents who are cut and dry and you have a very direct person in me lol.

        Like

  6. Bea dM says:

    The whole issue is fraught. The statistics are there. The interpretations infinite. On a mega-pyschological level, I’d venture to say President Obama’s being elected made self-proclaimed racists go extreme (some 7-8% of the population) and actually created a backlash among the segments of society that were more or less “neutral” before, increasing the ranks of the former. I disagree on one point: class isn’t just something to be added, but a basic constituent of racism. Fear of difference (colour, class) is the root of racism, so I agree that the first step is to stop being colourblind – as you say, see, understand, acknowledge.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      Great points! I think class and racism are so closely aligned that is hard to yell the difference. I view classcism as thinking one is better than die to amount (or lack thereof) of material things. I think racial prejudice is just the icing on the cake with classicism.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. Ellen Hawley says:

    Interesting conversation you’ve generated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      Indeed! That’s exactly what I wanted to do. Generate discussion. I actually expected a lot of criticism on this piece. I certainly got some, but not as much as I thought. I feel like if people can actually talk about things, then maybe we can find a solution to this problem.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ellen Hawley says:

        When I think back to how much more difficult the conversation would have been in 1960 (oops, typed 1060 there; different conversation indeed back then), yes, it does strike a small spark of hope.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Excellent post, and very true. You can’t slap a Band-Aid on a severed artery, say it’s “just a scrape” and claim it’s fixed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jarrod Brown says:

      Love this! I totally agree! The response I’m getting to this post is amazing. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in this.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Eddie Gilliam says:

    Thanks for the post. Share with fb friends

    Liked by 1 person

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