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For the past several centuries of people’s fight with racism, it became clear that racism can hardly be eradicated from the society. All those years of oppression, humiliation, and resentment that eventually resulted in civil wars and revolutions seem to have meant nothing because the 21st century still witnesses cases of racism. These days, however, racists learnt to hide their hatred for those who are different under the mask of racism-opponents. This is how the concept of color-blind racism emerged. Color-blind ideology “relies on race-neutral language to support the argument that race is no longer a factor in opportunity and achievement in America” (Quiroz, 2007, p. 13). This sociological term is meant to express people’s disregard for any racial characteristics. When the idea emerged first, it seemed to have marked the end of the fight with racism for the desired was achieved and the society has finally admitted that differences based on the skin color are senseless. Nevertheless, quite soon color-blindness started to be perceived as an indirect act of racism, act of oppression that still placed some races over the others (Healey, 2009). In this way, color-blindness presupposes that the society is post-race. It does not say that racism has vanished from the society; instead it posits that racism does not matter in the modern world, which is untrue because racial oppression takes place even at present. Perhaps, this is not overt oppression as it used to be the case in the 19th or 20th century; overt oppression has been replaced by covert indirect acts testifying to the fact that racism is still alive. Contemporary America can be characterized by color-blind racism, an ideology that that serves as a shield for white people who covertly express their negative attitude towards people of color, which can be seen from the latter’s living conditions and working opportunities that are not equal with those of the whites; this ideology is typical for Patriarchal societies that function on mindlessness instead of mindfulness, a society that America has once been and will always remain at least to some extent.
First of all, it should be mentioned that color-blind racism is not a new ideology that is only developing in the contemporary American society; it has been strengthening its positions over several decades gradually becoming a shield under which the whites hid their dislike for the people of color. Throughout these decades, color-blind racism has acquired several beliefs as an ideology: “U.S. society functions as a racial meritocracy; for the most part these days people do not care about or even notice race; any racialized patterns of social inequality that do persist are outcomes of individual and/or group-level cultural deficiency” (Krysan and Lewis, 2006, p. 45). This ideology perfectly explains why racial discrimination is still present in the country where almost every white person claims that race is no longer important for people’s interrelations. Color-blind racism as an ideology became dominant already in the 1960s and served as an opposition to Jim Crow’s overt racism. In Crow’s times, social stand of black people was explained by the inferiority of their race, in which the essence of color differentiation lied. The contemporary society chose to avoid such arguments instead imputing non-white people’s low level of life to their own cultural peculiarities: “For instance, whites can attribute Latino’s high poverty rate to a relaxed work ethic … or residential segregation as the result of natural tendencies among groups” (Bonilla-Silva, 2006, p. 2). This is often referred to as new racism practices. Such practices are subtle and they cannot be detected at once. Nevertheless, they are present in every single sphere of human activities. Of course, it is impossible to openly say “No Niggers Welcomed Here” (Bonilla-Silva, 2006, p. 3) as it was considered normal only several decades ago; the oppression is subtle, which makes it even more intolerable. Thus, black people are not persecuted or openly disregarded; color-blind racism made it possible to limit their rights through relatively fair practices that are not forbidden by law and that can never be identified as racist.
It is remarkable that non-white people face such practices in almost all the spheres of their activities. In case with residential segregation, people of color are simply not shown the available units when they need to purchase or rent a house or an apartment; this is how separate communities are maintained in contemporary America. This makes it impossible for the people of color to complain about the unfair treatment; there is simply no way to prove that residential segregation did take place. In this way, people of color get convinced that such segregation “rooted in natural human process” (Bonilla-Silva, 2001, p. 195). Similar covert racism can be observed in the economic field as well. It is expressed through “advertising job openings in mostly white networks and ethnic newspapers, and steering highly educated people of color into poorly remunerated jobs or jobs with limited opportunities for mobility” (Bonilla-Silva, 2006, p. 3). Just like in case with getting residence, complaining about this makes no sense because, in reality, no laws were broken and proving that a person was denied in a job because of his/her skin color is impossible. Politically, non-white people also experience limitations; racial gerrymandering is often the case in the American politics and disenfranchisement among the non-white politicians is not a rare occurrence. This all results in the American people of color’s significantly lagging behind the rest of the population in social life: “They are about three times more likely to be poor than whites, earn about 40 percent less than whites, and have about an eighth of the net worth than whites have” (Bonilla-Silva, 2006, p. 2). This is how the minorities are kept in secondary position and this is why new racism practices of America fall under the notion of color-blind racism.
Lastly, it is worth mentioning that the development of such ideology as color-blind racism is characteristic for the American society that has been Patriarchal for a long time and sometimes continues functioning on mindlessness instead of mindfulness. The contemporary American society’s views on people of color are to certain extent similar with those that this society had when being patriarchal: “In patriarchal ideology, each gender is assigned an immutable nature fixed in the body and permanently set apart from the other. This is to maintain an almost cosmic polarity upon which the universe supposedly depends for balance and order” (Johnson, 2005, p. 96). This ideology created an idea that one group (males) should be dominant over the other (females); hence the men were regarded as a dominant group, while the women were perceived as a marginal one. This is how the American society has probably acquired an idea that there should be subordinate groups within a society, which resulted in discriminating against the marginal ones. Patriarchal society was based on mindlessness, or the lack of understanding of what takes place in the present, or the now, as Langer (1989) refers to it. This mindlessness, as opposed to mindfulness characterized by openness to new information (Langer, 1989), does not let the society accept the idea that people of color can also be a part of it. This, according to this idea, serves as the main reason of the emergence of such ideologies as color-blind racism.
In conclusion, racism will never disappear from the American society that, once being a patriarchal one based on mindlessness instead of mindfulness, developed an idea that a society should consist of dominant and subordinate groups. Over the years, however, the American society managed to hide its attitude towards people of color. Starting from the 1960s, American white people developed an ideology that helped them to covertly express its views regarding people of color’s place in their community. This is now referred to as color-blind racism, or the kind of racism in which non-white people are discriminated against through subtle practices applied when they wish to receive highly-paid jobs, prestigious residence, or political powers. Therefore, contemporary American society can be characterized by covert racism that most of the white people deny but that accounts for people of color’s lower level of life and general welfare. The main reason why such ideology as color-blind racism is present in the society is the vestiges of its Patriarchal past that make white Americans think that they should be dominant in the society.
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2001). White supremacy and racism in the post-civil rights era. London: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Racism without racists: Color-blind racism and the persistence of racial inequality in the United States. London: Rowman & Littlefield.
Healey, J.F. (2009). Diversity and society: Race, ethnicity, and gender. Thousand Oaks: Pine Forge Press.
Johnson, A. (2005). The gender knot. New Delhi: Pearson Education.
Krysan, M. & Lewis, A.E. (2006). The changing terrain of race and ethnicity. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Langer, E.J. (1989). Mindfulness. London: Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.
Quiroz, P.A. (2007). Adoption in a color-blind society. London: Rowman & Littlefield.