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Colorblind Racism

Colorblind racism is racism that acts as if skin colour does not matter – even when it does.  It is widespread across the planet, including the US, but it is elevated in importance in French Republican and republicanismo derived racism across Latin America. Brazil has a similar concept, the "myth of racial equality," ably deconstructed by Abdias do Nascimento. The term originated in the US and is also used to describe how the US is becoming more like Latin America.

Special Issue, American Behavioral Scientist
The Mechanisms of Color-Blind Racism and the Racialized Social System

The concept is driven historically by the impact of latino republicanism thinking, which seeks to repress ethnicity.  The argument goes like this: we are all equal, our identity is that of citizens. Therefore ethnic identity has little value, except for the default Spanish criollo identity.


Christopher Rufo's anti-DEI crusade visits University of South Florida  2/13/2023 Axios: "Rufo called on DeSantis to "not hesitate in demolishing these offices, terminating the employment of their commissars, and restoring the colorblind equality, individual merit, and scholarly excellence as the guiding principles of the academy.""

How the mixed-race mestizo myth warped science in Latin America  12/13/2021 Nature: "“By this point, the categories of Amerindian or mestizo didn’t fit anywhere,” says Usaquén, who works at the National University of Colombia in Bogotá. He and his team decided to try something new. They came up with a system of seven different categories that accurately reflected the genealogy, history and demography of the population, and were able to determine how each of them genetically interacted with each other9. “There’s no standard category you can use,” adds Usaquén, who found that the Wayuú are a highly admixed group, but still distinct from other people. When thinking about which category to use, he says, “the big conclusion for us is that every time you study a population, you have to create them”."

Discourses of colorblind racism on an internet forum  3/9/2021 Journal of Multicultural Discourse: "This paper analyzes discourses of everyday racism and colorblind racism on an internet forum. While skin color is invisible online, identities as black, white and shades in between show through participants’ perspectives and communicative behavior in discussions about racism. Critical race theory and whiteness studies argue that there is a perception gap between black and white perspectives on racism, linked to positionality in social structures, which influences experiences and shapes perceptions of the world. This paper shows how black participants in online discussions tend to be more conscious of racial issues and skilled at recognizing racism, while whites often reflect a colorblind discourse that denies structural racism and reproduces everyday racism. Starting with critical perspectives of conscious blacks on the forum and drawing on Cultural Discourse Studies and critical race theory, this paper examines power relations and cultural perspectives underlying white participants’ claims, perspectives and speech acts."

Producing Colorblindness: Everyday Mechanisms of White Ignorance  12/1/2017 Social Problems: "Many analysts argue colorblindness as the reigning ideological buttress of a historically distinct form of structural white supremacy, color-blind racism. In contrast to slavery and legal segregation, color-blind racism is theorized as covert and highly institutionalized. As such, analyses of contemporary racial reproduction often emphasize the structure of colorblindness, particularly the habitual routines and discursive patterns of everyday white actors. Though invaluable, this work may conceal whites’ innovation in reproducing, revising, and at times resisting white supremacy and corresponding logics. As opposed to focusing on the structural elements of colorblindness, I elevate colorblindness as a culturally recursive accomplishment grounded in an epistemology of ignorance—that is a process of knowing designed to produce not knowing surrounding white privilege and structural white supremacy. Qualitatively analyzing 105 family wealth analyses produced by white college undergraduates researching racial inequality and the wealth gap, I identify four epistemic maneuvers by which students creatively repaired a breach in normative colorblindness. Demonstrating innovative means by which ordinary whites bypass and mystify racial learning highlights their vested commitment to maintaining and creatively defending the ideologies that buttress racial domination and white supremacy. As such, this research additionally advises updating strategies for challenging whites’ colorblindness in efforts to advance racial justice.

What Sam Harris Gets Wrong About Racism and Violence in America  8/25/2016 Cuba Si: "First, it’s impossible to ignore his appeal to “Homo sapien,” which is a sly way of asserting “all lives matter” in the face of noticeable, disproportionate treatment of groups of people. How fortunate must one be to utter this without a hint of irony? Within the context of this discussion, his statement is akin to declaring “I don’t see color. I just see people.” Just like the idea of colorblindness is an act of racial avoidance, so too is the belief that “We’re all just people.”"

Yale professor examines unconscious biases by whites  12/2/2015 Harvard Gazette: "Dovidio cited several studies that showed disparities in interactions between physicians and patients. He said a 2003 study found, “Race-discordant visits are shorter, involve less positive affect, and are less participatory.” Another study, he noted, reported that 57 percent of blacks say they experience discrimination “often” or “very often” in interactions with white physicians. Implicit bias by white physicians, he said, results in fewer verbalizations, shorter visits, and faster speech. They are less patient-centered. In response, the patient is less involved and there is less clinician respect. Further, the patient does not like or trust the clinician, and lacks confidence in him or her, according to the studies cited by Dovidio."

Color-blind Racism in France: Bias Against Ethnic Minority Immigrants  12/1/2015 Washington University Journal of Law and Policy: "Immigration from former colonies in North and sub-Saharan Africa has had a significant effect on France’s demographic composition. That nation now has the largest Muslim population in Europe and conflicts involving ethnic minority populations have increased dramatically. In 2004, the French parliament adopted a law prohibiting female students from wearing headscarves in public schools. In 2010, a law was passed that prohibits women from wearing face-covering veils in public places. Both measures have been highly controversial. Many Muslim women interpret their religion to require scarves and veils in public. France’s anti-veil laws have, at minimum, a discriminatory effect on Muslim women based on their ethnicity, religion, color, and national origin."

The Structure of Racism in Color-Blind, “Post-Racial” America  5/28/2015 American Behavioral Scientist: "In this article, I describe the racial order of America in the post–Civil Rights era. First, I discuss what racism is all about and emphasize the centrality of conceiving the phenomenon in a structural way. Second, I argue that the “new racism,” or the set of mostly subtle, institutional, and seemingly nonracial mechanisms and practices that comprise the racial regime of “post-racial” America, has all but replaced the old Jim Crow order. Third, I describe the racial ideology of color-blind racism and its component parts (i.e., frames, style, and racial stories) and contend that, like the racial order, this new ideology is slippery and has a “beyond race” character. Fourth, I explain that the Obama moment is part of the new racism, color-blind period and justify my claim empirically. I conclude this essay pondering if people of color will wake up and realize that the new, more “civil” way of maintaining and justifying racial things is a more formidable way of maintaining racial domination."

Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism  12/27/2011 Psychology Today: "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. Instead of resulting from an enlightened (albeit well-meaning) position, colorblindness comes from a lack of awareness of racial privilege conferred by Whiteness (Tarca, 2005). White people can guiltlessly subscribe to colorblindness because they are usually unaware of how race affects people of color and American society as a whole."

Cuba y el racismo daltónico  10/12/2009 Rebelion: "A ese ciclo triangular de marginalización económica y exclusión que culmina en una muerte civil y social, Marable lo llama racismo daltónico. O sea, una variedad de racismo orientado a desmontar la maniquea señalización etnocromática, remodelando el lenguaje y tratando la raza de forma neutra y daltónica."

Obama’s White Male Voters: Do They Hear Something Blacks Don’t?  2/20/2008 Black Agenda Report: "White men have always been the most reactionary, racially-bonded voting group, the deepest well of anti-Black hostility in the country. So, what makes them flock to Obama's banner? The answer is simple: Obama has based his entire strategy on sending messages to white males, assuring them he will take race and sex privilege off the table of American discourse. They got the message, and vote accordingly. The other side of this color blind coin is Black Americans, who don't seem to hear the conversation that's going on all around them."

The Linguistics of Color Blind Racism: How to Talk Nasty about Blacks without Sounding “Racist”  12/1/2002 Critical Sociology: "In this paper I argue that color blind racism, the central racial ideology of the post-civil rights era, has a peculiar style characterized by slipperiness, apparent nonracialism, and ambivalence. This style ?ts quite well the normative climate of the country as well as the central frames of color blind racism. I document in the paper ? ve stylistic components of this ideology, namely, (1) whites’ avoidance of direct racial language, (2) the central rhetorical strategies or “semantic moves” used by whites to safely express their racial views, (3) the role of projection, (4) the role of diminutives, and (5) how incursions into forbidden issues produce almost total incoherence among many whites. I conclude the paper with a discussion on how this style enhances the ideological menace of color blind racism."


Eduardo Bonilla Silva


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