Color blindness or also referred to as race blindness is the exclusion of race in the assessment of a human being. Color blindness is a new concept that strives to mineralize racial discrimination. Our society has strived to find a state of colorblindness but has yet to succeed. Past discriminations have hindered the progress of colorblindness in society. Due to racism in the past many hurdles were created for minorities to overcome in the present. Hurdles such as poverty and negative stereotypes. These hurdles in turn have made it hard for our society to truly become color blind.
The racism from the past has made our society unable to truly practice colorblindness because it has caused individual, institutional, and systemic discrimination in the present. Discrimination in the past came in many forms but it started with systemic discrimination. In the early 1900s the Anglo-Saxon ideology was at a high. In the segregation of Mexican student’s article, the author shows how these ideologies affected Mexican American in California. Even though Californian had equality law for Mexican Americans, they were still discriminated against. “Mexicans were only allowed to attend churches located in the Mexican zone.
Paradoxically, the religious segregation of the Mexicans only served to sanction other forms of racial segregation and promoted an era of un-Christian Anglo-Saxon domination” . Mexican Americans were forced to live in certain areas and were forced to attend only certain churches. Caucasians systemically discriminated Mexican Americans by separating that entire group of people from themselves. This systemic discrimination which existed in the past has continued to the present. This discrimination of separating and creating communities for different ethnic groups in the past has inadvertently caused discrimination now.
The communities inhabited mostly by minorities became poorer neighborhoods because minorities didn’t earn as much as their white counterparts and so they could not invest much into their communities. Caucasian majority neighborhoods sustained their status and got a price boost when compared to the local minority neighborhood. This translates to present day because even though minorities aren’t forced to stay in certain areas anymore, they still stay in poorer neighborhoods because they cannot afford to move to a better one. Segregation in housing allowed most white homeowners to accumulate equity and wealth while most minorities could not” . This present day segregation of housing is caused by white homeowners discriminating against minorities and their belief that minorities will cause trouble in their neighborhoods. They assume this because most minorities come from poorer neighborhood which they live in because it is affordable or their ancestors were forced to settle in. The past systemic discrimination makes it hard for colorblindness to progress in the present. In the past America has had its share of institutional discrimination.
But the most negatively influential of this type of discrimination is that of schooling. During the early 1900s Mexican American children were discriminated by Caucasians. Mexican American children were made to go to a separate school. “…school segregation of /Chicano students in public elementary and secondary schools in California has its origins in racial ideologies of Anglo-Saxon superiority…” . Caucasians justified this institutional discrimination by calming that Mexican American children were not well versed in English and this was a hindrance to Caucasian children.
The school Mexican Americans children were sent to had a “dumbed” down curriculum so that in the future the Mexican American children would provide a cheap source of labor. This type of institutional discrimination has a connection to the present. These children who were discriminated against had less skill and did not get good paying job and so they were stuck in their poor neighborhoods and now their children face the same problem. America discriminates against minority children by creating the no child left behind act. By holding schools and children to higher standards without providing the resources necessary to meet those standards, they punish students who have received a poor education, and fuel dropout rates” . This act causes public schools from poor neighborhoods to receive less funding from the local government because they do not meet their high standard of education. Lewis states, “Unlike most industrialized nations, which fund schools nationally, the United Sates has historically funded schools locally, with many resulting disparities” .
The local government gives less money to these schools because the minority students are not given equal resources as the students from richer schools. So they perform worst that the students of richer schools. Thus the past discrimination has caused institutional discrimination in the present. A side effect of this present discrimination has brought about the existence of affirmative action. Affirmative action is an act that mandates that a certain percentage of ethnic groups need to be admitted into a public institution. …the inherent relationship between affirmative action, on the one hand, and diversity on the other” . This act tries to provide an equal opportunity for minority students to gain admission into colleges. But the existence of such an act is a direct indicator of how non-colorblind our society is. In a truly colorblind society we would not need to distinguish poverty by the guide lines of race. Individual discrimination was prevalent in the past and it still is. In the past it was considered the norm to discriminate against an individual based solely on their race.
In the movie we watched in class about the Pine Ridge Massacre. Two FBI agents who were pursuing suspects of a robbery drove into the Pine Ridge Reservation. When they approached a group of American Indians they started firing their guns at an Indian boy because they assumed he was linked to the culprit. The FBI agents discriminated against the Indian boy by coming to the conclusion that because he is Native American the boy must have had something to do with the local gangs, which were thought to be the cause of the robbery. The altercation ended with both agents and the American Indian boy being dead.
Unlike in the past individual discrimination in the present day is seen less. Present day discrimination is practiced by some knowingly and some unknowingly. Though this example has been over used I felt that it best summarized our present day societal views. The recent election of our 44th president is my example. The knowingly done individual discrimination against President Obama was from the threats the KKK issued during his run for the office and the unknowingly done individual discrimination against President Obama was by all of us.
When President Obama was elected the public celebrated the fact that our president was African American. I feel that this is individual discrimination because the American population celebrates President Obama’s race while the race of our previous presidents did not merit recognition. I confess that am also a culprit of this discrimination. My ecstasy over witnessing the election of an African American man into the presidential office caused me to question colorblindness in our society. Ditomaso mentions in her article about African Americans being selected by colleges. …choosing someone because they were black as opposed to choosing someone on the basis of merit” . In a truly colorblind society the fact that a Harvard graduate and a successful Illinois governor had been elected to the presidential office would have been enough cause for celebration and the fact that an African American man was elected into office would not have mattered. Thus I conclude that our present day society is not colorblind. Someone arguing that we live in a colorblind society might say that the fact that we have ethnic studies classes is proof of our colorblindness in the present day society. Ethnic studies as a discipline had been born in the 1960’s out of the cultural conflicts that occurred when blacks, Chicanos, American Indians, and Asian-Americans protested that their contributions to American society had been sorely ignored in the texts that Eurocentric middle-class white males historically had articulated” . They could argue that protests from minority groups, that led to the creation of ethnic studies, were not ignored because of increased tolerance and societies change to colorblindness. But the existence of the ethnic studies class is a sign of a non colorblind society.
Gutierrez article he sums up ethnic studies pretty well. “In the most optimistic scenarios, ethnic studies offers a path for the peaceful management of differences over time; at worst, it is seen as exacerbating the importance of identity politics over time” . The creation of an ethnic studies class does not eradicate discrimination rather informs us of it. The ethnic studies class is able to function because we are still able to distinguish between race and in this way we learn about the discrimination that has affected each of these races.
Learning about the injustices of the past, for the sake of not repeating them, also causes us to not forget them. In conclusion our modern day efforts to achieve a colorblind society have increased our tolerance but we have yet to say that we live in a truly colorblind society. Individual, institutional, and systemic discrimination still exists in our society and has been a hindrance to the progression of our society to color blindness. Our present day society is not colorblind and I am glad for that.
Though race discrimination and distinction may lead to negative consequences, I cannot ignore the greatest positive that comes from it. Different cultures, it is the most unique aspect of America. Our modern day nation is known as the melting pot because we are able to identify ourselves to different races and yet be able to live together. We need the distinction of race to uphold the culture and tradition that belongs to it. I believe that the ideal society would not be color blind but be accepting of all the different races.