A Colorblind Culture

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What would the world be like if none of us could see race?

UNITED STATES—In honor of the great teachings of Civil Rights Leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I only found it fitting this week to write a column highlighting what Mr. King hoped for one day in America. He was petulant in his message about not judging people by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I’ve heard that phrase more times than I can count. The bigger question I have to ask America is why it’s so difficult for us to put actions to our words. Can Americans actually say they are colorblind? Absolutely not! No matter how hard we attempt or even try to convince ourselves that we are colorblind, we see color day in and day out.

What’s worse is the factoid that we are reminded of color through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, movies, music, sports, etc., etc. We like to make distinctions even if we don’t think it. The first thing I can recall about last week was how everyone was in uproar about the 2015 Academy Awards having all white actors, no minorities in the acting race. The argument is quite valid, but what can you do?

This is a voting body that consists of about 94 percent of Caucasians, most of them being older white males. The results of the outcome shouldn’t shock people, and we have to look beyond that. Could some argue there were snubs without a doubt, but you always have 2016?

America is a culture that is considered a melting pot, but being a melting pot of races and cultures, does not necessarily equate to acceptance. People snicker, people stare, people make ignorant comments; we fear what we don’t know to say a bit, because we have preconceived stereotypes placed into our mindset.

Yeah, stereotypes are tricky. I recall learning about them vividly as an undergraduate. The professor explained that stereotypes were a good thing as they presented a slice of a culture or race to others who might be unfamiliar with a particular ethnic group. If someone hasn’t particularly had much interaction with a particular race, they can begin to assume things based on stereotypes depicted in the media and what they’ve heard from others.

Why is that problematic? No stereotype accurately defines a culture as a whole, no matter how much one would like to believe it. Unfortunately for most Americans, we’re not able to shake away from preconceived notions. We believe what we hear, see and ‘think’ we know which is why so much ignorance continues to fester in our culture.

Ask yourself this question, what would our world be like if everyone was blind? If we were unable to see or depict color, would we become a nation more inclined to accepting of others? I would think so. My fear is even with that element of seeing taken out of the equation, as a culture we would still find a way to distinguish races, perhaps we would use certain touches or voice distinction.

Mr. King had a dream; it’s just unfortunate that nearly 50 years later, we are not nearly close to seeing his dream come to fruition.