Can You See Us Now?
There is a continual temptation in the heart of man to live within a racialized society as if it were race-neutral, or at least race-less. The truth is that we live in a racialized world, one where we see color, see color as race, and that awareness has conscious and subconscious implications on how we treat one another.
As of late, and by late I mean the last sixty years of North American thought, some people have assumed that race, this dynamic socio-political-classist idea that has dominated the world for the last five hundred years disappeared with the advent and departure of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the passing of certain Civil Rights voting rights acts, and the overall absence of Klansmen roaming the streets.
From the 1970s to date, we have fooled ourselves into believing the myth that race no longer matters, more so, that race no longer exists and therefore no longer plays a role in the formation, evaluation, advancement, or abasement of our society — some racial groups more than others.
The truth is that many communities, white communities, in particular, have been duped into believing that we are now living in a color-blind society, where the betterment of one’s life rests solely on their merits and efforts and little, if at all, on their social-demographic and racial makeup.
The presence and success of Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and Barack Obama are the only signs of Black progress in America needed to prove and support the myth that race, more so racism, is no longer at play in our North American society. The financial and national success of some three dozen or so Black Americans is all that is needed to promote the idea that racism is dead and the presence of virulent discrimination of the past is behind us.
But we know, we understand that race is still very much at play in how our mixed society evaluates people, promotes some, demotes others, incarcerates some, and liberates others, on the conscious and subconscious efforts of people who are still very much plagued by the psychological disease that is racism.
Without color consciousness or race consciousness, we will protect a society where discrimination based on color and race is not discrimination at all. We will stand in awe as one person berates another, calling them racially derogatory terms, but we will not be able to categorize that behavior as racially insensitive.
It is like someone attempting to disregard the presence of the force that pulls objects to the ground when we drop them, stating that objects are not falling, they are simply not rising, because gravity does not exist. Thus, when objects do fall, the person will simply deny the reality of the fact and claim that it isn’t gravity, it must be, simply, the non-rising of objects. A play on words to avoid the reality of the issue that not only does gravity exist, objects do, in fact, fall.
Living in a color-blind society does little for racial reconciliation and betterment. It does in fact thwart our progress as a society.
It is impossible at this point, these many hundreds of years into a racialized world to do away with the concept of race. One person said that race is but the offspring of racism, stating that prejudice and discrimination were present before the actual categorization of the race itself ever came to be. I don’t disagree.
But now it is illegal to discriminate against someone based on race, therefore, doing away with the idea of race, people will discriminate based on it but will be free of any liability to it.
Race exists. Socially. It is a social phenomenon. It is a socially devised category to elevate certain racial groups and devalue others. We have lived so long under these realities that it is impossible now to do away with the conscious reality of race.
And since race is here to stay and discrimination must go we must learn to live in a race-conscious society, devoid of racism. In the same way, we live in an ethnic-conscious society without becoming proponents of ethnocentrism.
Living the myth of color-blindism is like living in a world where the terms misogyny (intense hatred of women) and femicide (murder of women) do not exist, therefore, when women are mistreated for no other reason than they are women and when women are killed for no other reason than they are women, we frown at the sad reality, mourn their passing, arrest the perpetrators but are unable to give a name to the targeted type of mistreatment and crime.
A color-blind society is afraid of its racial diversity, and in many cases, it is afraid of the reality of its racially homogenous makeup. Communities of color know that their demographic is made up of people of color, minorities, and racial minorities who are easily identifiable. But communities strictly made up of white citizens tend to view it as not a community made up of white citizens but simply as a community.
The race factor is removed from its vocabulary although it is present in its subconscious.
This is clear when minority community members have added to this race-neutral or faceless community, there is a stir, unspoken at first, but discussed in other, raceless terms in the future, because the addition adds something, although they cannot name it, a difference, to their previously indifferent community.
The luxury of race blindness or racelessness is one found within the white community alone, as their ancestors exclusively invented the concept of race and distinguished the difference between normalcy, namely, whiteness, from non-whites, namely, Black, yellow, and red peoples. The standard was always raceless as long as raceless meant white, but the moment a minority factor was added to the mix, color had to be included to better explain that difference.
A community is a community since it is white, albeit devoid of its racial categorization. When a community is half or mostly made up of Black or Hispanic people, it then gets categorized as a minority community or a Black community, or a Hispanic or Latino community.
When a business is owned and governed by white people, it is simply a business. But when a business is owned and governed by people of color, it is called a minority-owned business. Race, thus, becomes only evident in the “other” race to say the standard race, the white race, is either non-existent to the majority white group or that it is invisible to them.
The use of “white majority” communities or “white majority-owned business” is unheard of, even in a world where we have the absence and presence of the opposite when it is used to define and categorize non-white color and race groups.
We must not allow another generation to enter a world where color blindness is the standard by which we live because the absence of color and race gives way for discrimination to intensify without its proper terminology.
A color-blind society, one devoid of racial descriptions, allows for people who are very much racist to evolve and thrive even, in their problematic prejudices without repercussions.
Judges who disproportionately sentence Black youth to lengthier prison stays than their white counterparts who commit the same crime can simply state that they do not have a racist bone in their bodies and the discrepancy is just that, a discrepancy.
Law enforcement officers who use excessive force against minority groups during arrests, using their tasers, dogs, and even weapons, at a higher rate against these community members than they do against white community members who commit the same crimes, can state that their decisions are race-less, devoid of prejudice because they do not have a racist bone in their body.
Physicians who believe that Black women have a higher pain threshold than white women will refuse to assist Black women in labor when they complain of added discomfort, pains, and issues. When those Black women die under their care as a result of their negligence they defend their decisions on supposedly clear medical arguments, stating that they did not believe, at the time, that their patient was being forthcoming about their situation and that the decision to refuse help or dismiss concerns was strictly consequential and not racial at all.
Community watchmen can chase down a Black young man in their community, harass him, and upon his defending his person, they can gun him down with extreme prejudice, return home, delay their own arrest with the help of the local district attorney, and deny that, once they are arrested for predating upon a Black man, that their racialized targeting was racist. This, of course, is made available by the presence of post-racial theorization that allows for racism to be exercised liberally without the acts ever meriting the categorization of racism.
Raceless communities tend to be white communities. Colorblind institutions tend to be white majority or white exclusive communities. Post-racial or raceless theories tend to just be theories devoid of racial categorization.
Theology is called theology because it is Euro-American, namely, historically white. But when it is acted upon by Black or Latin American theologians it is called Black Liberation theology or Liberation theology.
That is one of the thousands of examples where color blindness only benefits members of the invisible race class, white people.
We live in a racialized society that must exist devoid of racism.
We must meet each other as we are, Black, white, Latin, Asian, and more, and love one another in that diversity. We mustn’t diminish or elevate based on race. We must love in the reality of race.
Failing to understand that leads us to a place where we live in a racialized reality where we are afraid to discuss race, mention race, talk about race, and even believe that race still exists because to name it is to see not only the realities of those who suffer in this paradigm but also those who benefit from such disparities.
Seeing race can and does lead us to societal betterment and improvement.
Denying race in a racialized society leads us down a dangerous road in the 21st century.
Teach yourself and your community members that race is still very much a part of who we are, of what our society is, and we must address that reality without ill or hate, with love and respect, understanding and patience, to move forward to a racially just, diverse, inclusive, and integrated society.
The opposite will give us more harm, hurt, and death at the hands of racists who get away with their racism by claiming they could never, ever be racists since they claim to not see race.
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