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!

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 »)

silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:03 pm

Thank you very much, and I see where you are coming from with many of your views. However, I choose to feel how I feel and I'm not trying to get rid of my culture but to get rid of the negative attention brought to it. I wish everyone could be equal and have a clean slate no matter what happened to them or their relatives and that they should be viewed as just people.

Again, thank you for your comment. I appreciate your feeback, it helps to improve my future writing.

Lilliterra replied...
Oct. 6, 2010 at 9:36 pm

I'm a white person, and I'm just wondering- why are minorities always expected to observe some kind of cultural heritage, while others are not? I've never even thought about celebrating Irish or German heritage, and no one asks me if I do. And I know that the German side of my family has been in America much shorter than most black families.

The reason I say "black" not "African American", is because, they're not African, they're American! No one calls me, "European American". And no o... (more »)

Nick_Xao This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Oct. 6, 2010 at 10:56 pm
They're not "expected to". In fact, many people just discard it, letting America become their main culture. But some of us like to honor their family's heritage, not in a "superior" sense, but just as a remembrance of who you are and where you came from.
silence21 replied...
Oct. 11, 2010 at 8:58 pm


I can respect that


MaryJ said...
Jul. 18, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Have you ever thought about starting your own organization? Could you possibly start changing the world one person at a time

I enjoyed this piece and hope to see more.

daffe10 said...
Jun. 24, 2010 at 11:57 am
I definately agree wiht this post. This is exactly what AMerica needs to hear! We can't all be treated the same and equal if we keep segregating one another! I f you actually want a difference, you have to start with yourself. We shouldn't even regard skin color. God made us all equally. Our skin color only comes from the amount of melanine in our pancreas to protect us from different amounts of sun exposure, not because we are more or less special. If we stop race-promoting confrences and othe... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:07 pm
Thank you daffe. I see we have something in common =)
Seabosking05 said...
Jun. 22, 2010 at 11:44 am
the more we give power to race the more racist people will flourish so we need to have a human history month where everyone comes together no matter where you come from. By celebrating as a human race we can then expand and we will except animals and people from other planets so we can live in universal harmony instead of just living as towne countries and races. 
The_End said...
May 17, 2010 at 7:39 pm
I come from a small town, and there is black people there, except for my basketball coach. He's married to a white woman, but it doesn't bother me at all. Our whole team has watched out for their little girls like they were our sisters. But yeah, racism is idiotic, and i don't agree with holidays that target a specific racial or ethnic group either.
VanillaDream93 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm
I love this article.  I really hate racist people.  We are all humans no matter what color our skin is.  My Advanced English class is reading a book called "Mississippi Trial, 1955" and I've had to put it down and stop reading it numerous times because racism and discrimination is really ignorant and upsets me.
silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm

I thank you for your comment. I will definetly (sp?) be reading that book as soon as I can. It sounds like an interesting read =)


morgan_e said...
Apr. 29, 2010 at 7:22 am
Oh wow. I completly agree with you . My parents are racists and I hate it. Most of my friends are not white like my mother would want them to be, so she disowned me because of it.
silence21 replied...
Apr. 29, 2010 at 5:22 pm
Thank you, and I'm sorry that your family is that way. But I' happy you are open minded to the world around you :)
iseeME26 said...
Apr. 15, 2010 at 3:36 pm
i read the first line and i loved it already, good job ;)
silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Whoo! Yay attention grabbing lines. =)

I feel like such a dork for getting excited about your comment, but I feel I must be doing something right!

Thanks so much


imastar_123 said...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 3:55 am
I get what your saying and its good but i disagree with some points. It sounds like your ashame of your heritage, more then embrace it. Im mixed and im proud of it. When its flag days i put up both because i love being black hispanic and white, it makes me who I am. Also, even though their is Blakc History month it isn't recognized. You may see one commerial and a few posters at school but thats it . I believe black people that made a difference should have a month and other cultures to. But, ju... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Dec. 21, 2010 at 9:35 pm
I think plenty of people care about the race, and BET exploits the race
bunnyco said...
Mar. 7, 2010 at 6:12 pm
i feel what you are saying, but at the same time you should be proud and acknowledge where you come from. so who care if someone judges you for what color you or your parents are you should walk with you your head up and let it be known who you really are. I'm black and i understand about not seeing color,but at the same time i proud in what my ancestors have had to go through, but i also don't dwell in it. bhm is a time for you to celebrate who you are and what your people stand for... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm

Thank you =)

I feel you, I really do. And I'm happy you do not dwell on your ancestors struggles. I hope that came out right and not mean.

Again, thanks so much. You're improving my writing abilities.

MarinaOreo said...
Feb. 26, 2010 at 9:21 pm
I am also biracial, "black" dad, "white" mom. (I hate using those terms..) I agree with you so much. The whole BET thing bothers me too because it takes the whole stereotypical view of black people and just encourages it. Sometimes people bother me about my race but it's more of a joking matter. I don't let it get to me and sometimes it does bother me but it isn't a serious issue. It bothers me so much, what this world has come to. So many issues with race and ... (more »)
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