Colorblind: Racial Ignorance in America

November 21, 2009
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Though she knew she was breaking the law, Rosa Parks, a simple, elderly, hard working,
housemaid, one day decided she would not give up her seat on the bus for a white man. And with that small act of defiance, she became, unintentionally, a Civil Rights icon.
Parks never intended to be a popular and respected leader of this movement. She only wanted to be comfortable after a day of being on her feet. Parks was arrested, and with the media outrage that followed, America’s eyes began to open.
Sadly, that is a lie. America’s eyes have yet to open. They have steadfastly remained in darkness.

Being the youngest child of an interracial marriage, I am often asked if this relationship has affected me in any way. To be honest, I am rather offended by people who question me about this.

I am simply a teenage girl who chooses to ignore her parents' heritage, racial stigmatism, or any of the myopic, stereotypical prejudices one wishes to impose. That's their problem, not mine.
To be frank, you could not pay me enough to care what slave ship brought my fathers family from Ethiopia. Nor can I feel a pang of sorrow when relatives tell me of my ancestors' hardships when they immigrated to America. I know it sounds harsh. And yes, in a way, it bothers me. But, it is the truth.

I did realize that my father was the same color crayon in my crayon box, brown. But it hadn't occurred to me that he was African- American until the age of seven when a classmate asked, “Why doesn’t your daddy look like your mommy?” My initial reaction was to shake my head and argue that my father looked just like anyone else's father.
How could it could be possible that he was different. He coached my biddy ball team, sat through my two hour Christmas concerts, cooked when mom was away. At that age, some children have yet to learn the difference between doing and being.
That night, at dinner, I saw my parents differently. With my recent discovery, I slowly began to understand that I was biracial, and supposedly different, just like my dad.

As I grew older and went through Catholic school, teachers asked if I celebrated Kwanza. Some classmates called me cookie dough, and parents asked me about Black History Month.
No, I do not celebrate Kwanza, nor does my dad. In my opinion, Kwanza is a recently created black Christmas to build more of a barricade, to separate, not for reasons of heritage, or being different in a positive way.

I did, at one time, let people nickname me because of my skin color. My own mother even took the
liberty of calling me peanut butter. But now, since I have been questioning and thinking, being called peanut butter, Reese cup, and mocha bear, offends me. Or when people say that I am mixed, I feel like yelling. I am not a beverage, so how can I be mixed?

I believe Black History Month, along with other months dedicated to a specific group, should be prohibited. There is no need to focus on a particular group for an entire month. Instead, parents, teachers, and media should discuss historical interests throughout the year.
Historian, Carter G. Woodson’s original Black Awareness Week ,was intended to help others envision a better future through an identity of their past. But now, his vision has become a pop culture phenomenon, which corporate America has been quick to exploit. During the last Super Bowl, for example, several corporate commercials specifically mentioned Black History Month, and how much they honored it.
Another injustice of our nation is affirmative action. On September 24, 1965, the executive order number 11246 required federal contractors, “Take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex, or
national origin.” With affirmative action, employers are being asked to hire less qualified workers and in some instances for more money. Title II of the Act prohibited discrimination in privately owned businesses and facilities opened to the public. In Title VI of the Act, it prohibited discrimination in federally funded programs. Title VII prohibited discrimination by both private and public employers. During the Civil Rights Era, affirmative action was created to abolish racial imbalances in hiring policies. Affirmative action was later extended to include college admissions and governmental contracts.

Today, affirmative action is a controversial matter facing our equal rights status of individual rights. As I have just recently explained, the idea and hope that affirmative action implemented was that America would truly become equal. So far, this hope and dream of equality has lasted thirty years and has yet to resolve any of our current problems concerning equal rights-it has made things worse. This act was created with intention of using reverse discrimination to resolve discrimination. With this, minority groups are being chosen over qualifications of other workers.

Affirmative action is also influential in the educational system. In some college admissions, minority students who may have never been accepted into a decent college, are now getting accepted. With this, the American people believe that this will end all racism on school campuses, creating diversity among students. The United States constitution states that all Americans are created equal. Therefore, I believe if we are created equal, shouldn’t we all have the same opportunity as everyone else?

Finally, Black Entertainment Television, commonly known as BET, creates a stereotypical outlook on the African American culture. Founded by Robert L. Johnson in 1980, the network showed movies, television series, and music to target an African American audience. BET justifies racism by pressing personal and broad generalizations about African Americans, affecting how many young viewers see the African American culture. Many generalizations include being womanizers, promiscuous, nuisances to society, and opposing integration.

This network contributes to the stereotypical diet of African Americans: fried chicken, cherry Kool-Aid, and soul food. BET also neglects the fact that most African Americans do not find people of Caucasian heritage as the bad guys or the nerds. Also, BET would like to portray the ‘injustices’ of being an American citizen who happens to be of African descent. For example, if one were to create a new television franchise called White Entertainment Television, or more commonly known as WET, people would assume it would be promoting white supremacy. BET exploits and manipulates the depiction of an African American’s daily life, which is why the network should be renamed or taken out of your basic cable lineup.

Why do Americans feel that they have conquered racism and prejudice? Granted, from that spark that Rosa Parks lit, to the election of Barrack Obama, is one giant leap for mankind. However, we are not even in spitting distance of erasing racial bigotry.

I notice it among my peers when they say, “I would never date a black guy.” Or, “They only like your dad because he’s the only black man they know.” Even, “I’m going through a black guy phase. I have to date one.”

When people mention things like these, intuition tells me it starts in the home. Where else would one learn behavior and comments of that nature? Social prejudice is not innate. It has to be predisposed. If one truly wishes to stop the idea of seeing race, it must start within themselves.

Join the Discussion

This article has 139 comments. Post your own now!

Dragonscribe said...
Jan. 15, 2011 at 10:35 am
I agree with you! I'm a white child of white parents, but I can understand how you feel. And I have to say that while I was reading your article and advertising for "African dating" popped up on the screen. Huh.
EmilytheAuthor This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm

I'm also "mixed" (Hispanic Dad, "white" mom) and I get some of what you are saying. I, personally, want to celebrate both sides of the family by embracing their cultures, but that's my choice. When I had a Quince Anos (sweet 15) party, I would invite friends and they'd laugh at me. If I had a dollar for how many times someone said "You're not Mexican" or "You're white, why are you doing this?", I'd have a ton of money. I am a 2nd generation immigrant from Colombia on my dad's side. I love my ... (more »)

Kay34066 said...
Jan. 2, 2011 at 1:53 pm
I can relate to article in many ways but I do disagree about some things. In my school it is very white. I am a "mixed" student and I am very proud of that. Once I had a boy argue with me that I am not partly colored. He even had the nerve to tell me that my own mother was not black! I find that offensive, but that doesn't change me or my family. Your right there shouldn't be total months devoted to entire races, we should only learn our mistake in the past from not only teachers but communities... (more »)
TreyAmazing said...
Dec. 17, 2010 at 8:34 am
You have great articulation, and this was a well written article. However, i do believe you are taking it out of proportion. The way this article is written would lead one to believe you have an unconscious loathing for Black people, and you blame your father for making you that way. You never once speak about your caucasian half. BET is way for black to stay intouch with black culture. They do not portray white people any sort of way, just broadcast television programs and movies with a predomi... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Dec. 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

Thank you fo your views, however I believe that you feel like this because you are centered on protecting your ethnic background, seeing that your profile says your favorite hobby is Being Black. Do you like being black because of the cultural aspects or do you like being black because it just happens to be the race you were born into?

You said that I blame my father's heritage for things, and I can see how you would feel that way, but I feel that it is wrong to glorify people jus... (more »)

PurpleFeather replied...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Trust me, no one is glorifying black people. We are the lowest race on the totem pole of minorities. The affirmative action plan helped matters a lot at the time, but didn't do away with the problem completely. And it certainly didn't cause people to glorify people of color.

And there is nothing wrong with racial pride. TreyAmazing likes being black because, as do many black teenagers, it is both because of the cultural aspects AND because it was the race he was born into. You can't do... (more »)

silence21 replied...
Jan. 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm
Thank you for you comment. I don't really agree with you, but thank you.
Anaise11 said...
Nov. 28, 2010 at 2:44 pm
No problem, it was a great article :)
silence21 replied...
Dec. 2, 2010 at 8:14 pm
Again, thakn you =)
soc-mikal replied...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 1:19 pm
would you mind telling me the date that you published this article? it would help me a great deal thanks!
silence21 replied...
Dec. 9, 2010 at 5:50 pm
I'll try to find out. May I ask why
crimescenefairy said...
Nov. 2, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Hi! My dad and I had an argument about different races marrying. I'm white and I really wouldn't care if a guy was black, what does it matter if you're in love, right? And he was all like Well the kids of interracial couples are always picked on and blah blah I guess he was just saying that we have to plan our lives around other peoples bigotry? Ugh.

So anyways, I love your article, very well written

silence21 replied...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 12:41 pm
Well, thank you for reading this, and I'm happy you like it. You'd think we would have grown out of that state of mind, but hey, he's just trying to do what he thinks is best for kid =)
Corkyspaniel said...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 11:14 am
This article is beautifully written. I have loved hearing your story. I am touched by it, because I encounter opposition because my boyfriend is Mexican. I love his heritage, but my entire family is against it. I wish I had pride in my Irish, German, and Cherokee heritage the way he has pride in his.
silence21 replied...
Oct. 15, 2010 at 9:21 pm
Well, thank you and than you for listening to my story
Allison said...
Sept. 22, 2010 at 4:35 pm
Your article is certainly well-intentioned. I want to make one correction: Rosa Parks did not refuse to give up her seat for the reason you state. Ms. Parks was part of an activist group that made the decision with her to take this action. Although the myth makes her sound more sympathetic, I supposed, such a tactic is unnecessary. Ms. Parks was a brave woman who made a public statement using the political weight of the NAACP and anti-racism advocates. It is important that you and everyone who w... (more »)
Dragonscribe replied...
Jan. 15, 2011 at 10:37 am
I've never, ever heard that about Rosa Parks before.
CocoBelle said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 2:57 pm
I appreciate you to the highest degree for this.Many don't know how people still turn their noses up on us(african american descents)
silence21 replied...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 8:08 pm
Thank you so much, that means a lot. =)
Nick_Xao This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 27, 2010 at 9:09 pm

I'll start off with the good: Your article is well-written, well thought out, and I very much respect your opinion because you sound intelligent and reasonable. I understand and sympathize with your frustration of BET, the stereo-types of celebrating one particular holiday, even if you don't. They are an unfortunate representation of your culture, and I completely understand what its like to feel pigeon-holed and frustrated with the mass stereotypes of your culture.

But I'm afraid... (more »)

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