"The only reason white people think being called a ‘white person’ is racist, or harmful or wrong is because they are used to the privilege of just being seen as a ‘person’ without their race or color being an issue for them. You see, when you call them ‘white,’ suddenly, they are not just a person, but now they have a color. Suddenly, they are no better than a PoC. And that scares the shit out of them."
Omar Sankofa (via sonofbaldwin)
I don’t think any person, race, religion, sex, or culture likes to be stereotyped. I hate being called “the white girl” just as much as I hate being called the “girl with big boobs” because that’s not my name. Each person should be able to and have the right to be an individual and not be grouped in or stereotyped. Unfortunately, there are people OF ALL COLOR that still see color, and this post kind of proves that to me, in my opinion.
Only a white person can say such a thing. I AM black. I don’t mind being seen as black. What I mind is all the WRONG assumptions that come along with my being seen as black. So, RESPECT my color; don’t use it as a reason to oppress me. And don’t try to erase me: Colorblindness is a serious problem:
Colorblind Ideology is a Form of Racism
A colorblind approach allows us to deny uncomfortable cultural differences.
Blindness means being unable to see.
What is racial colorblindness?
Racial issues are often uncomfortable to discuss and rife with stress and controversy. Many ideas have been advanced to address this sore spot in the American psyche. Currently, the most pervasive approach is known as 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.
Problems with the colorblind approach
Racism? Strong words, yes, but let’s look the issue straight in its partially unseeing eye. 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 (Fryberg, 2010). Most minorities, however, who regularly encounter difficulties due to race, experience colorblind ideologies quite differently. Colorblindness creates a society that denies their negative racial experiences, rejects their cultural heritage, and invalidates their unique perspectives.
Let’s break it down into simple terms: Color-Blind = “People of color — we don’t see you (at least not that bad ‘colored’ part).” As a person of color, I like who I am, and I don’t want any aspect of that to be unseen or invisible. The need for colorblindness implies there is something shameful about the way God made me and the culture I was born into that we shouldn’t talk about. Thus, 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 fix the racial problems that plague our society.
Colorblindness is not the answer
If you can’t see it, you can’t fix it.
Many Americans view colorblindness as helpful to people of color by asserting that race does not matter (Tarca, 2005). 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. 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.
Colorblindness in a psychotherapeutic relationship
How might colorblindness cause harm? Here’s an example close to home for those of you who are psychologically-minded. In the not-so-distant past, in psychotherapy a client’s racial and ethnic remarks were viewed as a defensive shift away from important issues, and the therapist tended to interpret this as resistance (Comas-Diaz & Jacobsen, 1991). However, such an approach hinders the exploration of conflicts related to race, ethnicity, and culture. The therapist doesn’t see the whole picture, and the client is left frustrated.
A colorblind approach effectively does the same thing. 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. As a therapist I need to be able to hear and “see” everything my client is communicating on many different levels. I can’t afford to be blind to anything. Would you want to see a surgeon who operated blindfolded? Of course not. Likewise, a therapist should not be blinded either, especially to something as critical as a person’s culture or racial identity. By encouraging the exploration of racial and cultural concepts, the therapist can provide a more authentic opportunity to understand and resolve the client’s problems (Comas-Diaz & Jacobsen, 1991).
Nonetheless, I have encountered many fellow therapists who ascribe to a colorblind philosophy. They ignore race or pretend its personal, social, and historical effects don’t exist. This approach ignores the incredibly salient experience of being stigmatized by society and represents an empathetic failure on the part of the therapist. Colorblindness does not foster equality or respect; it merely relieves the therapist of his or her obligation to address important racial differences and difficulties.
Multiculturalism is better than blindness
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 (Holoien et al., 2011). 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.
The alternative to colorblindness is multiculturalism, an ideology that acknowledges, highlights, and celebrates ethnoracial differences. It recognizes that each tradition has something valuable to offer. It is not afraid to see how others have suffered as a result of racial conflict or differences.
So, how do we become multicultural? The following suggestions would make a good start (McCabe, 2011):
- Recognizing and valuing differences,
- Teaching and learning about differences, and
- Fostering personal friendships and organizational alliances
Moving from colorblindness to multiculturalism is a process of change, and change is never easy, but we can’t afford to stay the same.
Comas-Diaz, L., and Jacobsen, F. M. (1991). Clinical Ethnocultural Transference and Countertransference in the Therapeutic Dyad. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 61(3), 392-402.
Fryberg, S. M. (2010). When the World Is Colorblind, American Indians Are Invisible: A Diversity Science Approach. Psychological Inquiry, 21(2), 115-119.
Holoien, D. S., and Shelton, J. N. (October 2011). You deplete me: The cognitive costs of colorblindness on ethnic minorities. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 10.1016/j.jesp.2011.09.010.
McCabe, J. (2011). Doing Multiculturalism: An Interactionist Analysis of the Practices of a Multicultural Sorority. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 40 (5), 521-549.
Tarca, K. (2005). Colorblind in Control: The Risks of Resisting Difference Amid Demographic Change. Educational Studies, 38(2), 99-120.
Birth Control 101 For Idiots
This is hormonal birth control.
As you can see on the box, you take exactly one pill per day. To make sure it works, you need to take one pill every day at the same time, or it stops working. You take only one pill, and you keep taking them regardless of what you are doing that day.
Hormonal birth control can be used to treat a lot of different diseases, like anemia caused by excessive menstruation. It is a prescription medication that can cost around $15-50 a month. Because it is a prescription medication, it should be covered by insurance, as it treats legitimate health problems.
This is Viagra.
It, too, can treat legitimate health problems like altitude sickness and pulmonary hypertension, but it is usually prescribed for erectile dysfunction. Unlike the Pill, Viagra is taken every time you want to have sex. A lot of health insurance companies cover Viagra, so it costs about as much as your co-pay.
This is a condom.
It is not a prescription medication, and has no health benefits (besides the prevention of STIs and pregnancy). Like Viagra, you must use one before you have sex: indeed, before each sex act. They cost about a dollar per condom.
This is Sandra Fluke.
She testified before a small, Democrat-led hearing after she was cut out of the actual birth control/insurance discussion. Her testimony was about a friend of hers who, because her insurance did not cover birth control, lost an ovary due to an ovarian cyst.
This somehow translates into “I, myself, personally, am having so much sex I can’t afford birth control, and so I want the government to pay for it.”
This is wrong for multiple reasons.
- It was about a friend, not her. To say her testimony was about her personally is factually incorrect.
- Sex had nothing to do with the testimony - her friend lost an ovary because of medical condition that was left untreated. A medical condition that was completely treatable, but wasn’t, because her insurance wouldn’t cover it. To say that her testimony was about her being “a slut” or “a prostitute” is factually incorrect.
- Even if she was having loads of sex, she would still only have one pill a day, not one pill per sex act, so to say “I’m having so much sex I can’t afford birth control” is completely erroneous. The Pill is not Viagra or condoms. To say that she is such “a slut” that she constantly needs more pills is factually incorrect.
- The current political debate is not “should the government pay for birth control?” The debate is “should insurance companies, that people and their employers pay for, on their own, be required to cover birth control?” To say that Sandra Fluke wants the government to pay for her birth control is factually incorrect.
- Religious organizations do not want to have birth control covered by their insurance, even for employees not of their faith, even if their employees never actually use their insurance to cover birth control. By this logic, they should also not pay their employees, because they could use that money to pay for birth control out of pocket. To say that this issue is about religious freedom and not about women’s health is disingenuous, as Ms. Fluke’s testimony demonstrates.
Hopefully this makes things a little clearer.
The problem with cultural appropriation is that it replaces the original with a copy created by the dominant culture. It dilutes the original, removes all symbolic value from it and replaces it with a ready to consume product devoid of context and meaning.
Cultural appropriation, at its most extreme, is a violent form of colonization because it removes the original group behind the culture and reinforces stereotypes about that group (i.e. ALL First Nation folks are reduced to “war bonnets”, whether their culture uses them or not; all Latin@s are reduced to a stylized version of Catholicism regardless of their spirituality; etc.). The mechanism of commodifying a culture ends up being a tool to re-inforce [sic] racism as it reduces the people behind those cultures to a mere cartoon like representation of their realities. It’s a great way to ultimately Other and objectify entire groups of people by taking something that is dynamic and ever evolving and freezing it for a marketing photo opportunity.
Flavia Dzodan (via comingonstrong)
because it still seems like many people need to be reminded…
(Source: seppin, via blackfeetvoices-deactivated2012)