Multiculturalism is Better than Colorblindness
I recently came across an article, which articulates well why and how we try to celebrate and appreciate difference at our multicultural camp. Below is a summary (in her words) of the full article by Monnica T. Williams, PhD.
What is racial colorblindness?
- Colorblindness is the racial ideology that posits the best way to end discrimination is by treating individuals as equally as possible, without regard to race, culture, or ethnicity.
- At its face value, colorblindness seems like a good thing — really taking MLK seriously on his call to judge people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. It focuses on commonalities between people, such as their shared humanity.
- However, colorblindness alone is not sufficient to heal racial wounds on a national or personal level. It is only a half-measure that in the end operates as a form of racism.
Colorblindness is not the answer
- Blind means not being able to see things. I don’t want to be blind. I want to see things clearly, even if they make me uncomfortable.
- Many Americans view colorblindness as helpful to people of color by asserting that race does not matter . But in America, most underrepresented minorities will explain that race does matter, as it affects opportunities, perceptions, income, and so much more.
- When race-related problems arise, colorblindness tends to individualize conflicts and shortcomings, rather than examining the larger picture with cultural differences, stereotypes, and values placed into context.
Problems with the colorblind approach
- A colorblind approach allows us to deny uncomfortable cultural differences.
- In a colorblind society, White people, who are unlikely to experience disadvantages due to race, can effectively ignore racism in American life, justify the current social order, and feel more comfortable with their relatively privileged standing in society.
- For most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, colorblind ideologies deny their negative racial experiences, reject their cultural heritage, and invalidate their unique perspectives.
- Research has shown that hearing colorblind messages predict negative outcomes among Whites, such as greater racial bias and negative affect; likewise colorblind messages cause stress in ethnic minorities, resulting in decreased cognitive performance.
- Colorblindness has helped make race into a taboo topic that polite people cannot openly discuss. And if you can’t talk about it, you can’t understand it, much less address racial problems.
Multiculturalism is better than blindness
- The alternative to colorblindness is multiculturalism, an ideology that acknowledges, highlights, and celebrates ethnoracial differences.
- Multiculturalism recognizes that each tradition has something valuable to offer.
- Multiculturalism is not afraid to see how others have suffered as a result of racial conflict or differences.
How do we become multicultural?
- Recognize and value differences,
- Teach and learn about differences, and
- Foster personal friendships and organize alliances
Given how much is at stake, we can no longer afford to be blind. It’s time for change and growth. It’s time to see. Moving from colorblindness to multiculturalism is a process of change, and change is never easy, but we can’t afford to stay the same.
Check out this link for Dr. Williams’s complete article from Psychology Today.