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!

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 »)
silence21 replied...
Feb. 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm
Thanks so much <3
lovelyducky said...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 1:03 pm
Oh wow, I'm also biracial, 14, white dad , blck mom, I've gotten mean comments as well, even tho I only live with my black mom people are ignorant
so go ahead & do whatever you want to do hun
god bless
silence21 replied...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 7:34 pm
Thank you :)
hollyhottell said...
Feb. 10, 2010 at 6:31 pm
im a white person and i kind of think the black holiday is and isn't stupid. im not racist at all and i think its sad that people can actually be that way. i think that day can be good for blacks because yes for a very long time ALL people were not treated equal. but blacks wernt the only ones miss treated so were asian, and mexican, and indians and even white people that didnt agree with other whites, but you dont see us making a specific holliday for ourselves. if we all want to be treat... (more »)
imastar_123 replied...
Apr. 14, 2010 at 3:44 am
actually in those countries they celebrate their independence. You don't see Asians celebrating Black History because it doesn't affect them. Each countrie has their own celebration.
Adkinlau said...
Jan. 30, 2010 at 4:32 pm
This was a really good article.
I'm white. I'm not a racist but your right they shouln't have everything focusing on one race like BET, black history month ect.
Keep up the good writing.
Maryon123 replied...
Feb. 10, 2010 at 6:12 pm
Im Black.
And Im writing to let you know that i strongly disagree with you.
Black History Month is the shortest month of the year that WHITE PEOPLE decided to acknowledge BLACK PEOPLES history according to them. The other remaining 11 months are strictly focused on WHITE PEOPLES history, can we atleast have one month without someone complaining about it. Since the truth of the matter is we have been here so long that our history has no beginning nor ending, but du... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Feb. 10, 2010 at 7:38 pm
why no just accept the fact we are all just people and people needed to be treated like people?
Maryon123 replied...
Feb. 11, 2010 at 9:53 am
Yes, that would be good if we were all treated like people, but according to the Constitution Black people are considered 3/5 of a human being. Since we have been here we havent been treated like people. In 2010 black people all over the world including america are deprived of the very necessities of all human beings they inlcude: Freedom, Justice and Equality. The only freedom we have is to act a damn fool, use drugs, kill eachother, and go to jail. So Yes thats a good question "Why N... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 4:33 pm
So you're going to do something about it?
TxDragon replied...
Jun. 11, 2010 at 11:56 am
to maryon123: Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist, praised the 3/5 rule in the constitution.  The rule was made so that the pro-slave south could not have a majority when voting.  the 3/5 rule heled end slavery. get your facts straight.
silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:17 pm


Thank you for looking into that, it really changes things. It honestly does. And to Maryon, I feel that having a month makes no sense. We dont have 'White months' we have months and you should excpet that. People are not out to get other people.

Anaise11 replied...
Nov. 26, 2010 at 2:39 am

To Maryon, not all of the other 11 months are focused on white people. September is commonly celebrated as National Hispanic Month. And March is Women's Month too, focusing on women of all races and ethnicities. 

And I don't think that Black people have had their freedom, justice, and equality taken from them necessarily. I mean, we have a Black president now so I think that we have a lot more to stand behind than drugs, crime, and ignorance. And honestly, I think that now, with a... (more »)

silence21 replied...
Nov. 27, 2010 at 12:48 pm

Thank you so much for the comment. I understand your views on Black History month and BET. I aslo appreciate that you talked about other monts dedicated to other people.

Again, thank you so much for comment. It really means a lot to me =)

Willful_Destruction replied...
Feb. 16, 2011 at 11:28 pm

To the "according to the Constitution. . ." comment -- I believe there is an amendment to that, and you should also be aware that that was added to satisfy the Southern plantation owners in early America who depended heavily on slavery to run their plantation. The Southern states woud have refused to sign the Constitution if slavery was banned at that time, and so they decided to postpone that decision until 1808 (I believe that is the correct year, but if not, I know it is sometime in the ea... (more »)

capricorn010693 said...
Jan. 11, 2010 at 11:10 pm
WOW!!! i really loved this article.. I'm 17 and most of the people that live around me could be the poster child for BET. I was never allowed to watch that channel and I never liked it. I am african american, by the way. But BET is supposed to be so uplifting and empowering for black people but it is just stereotypical; like you said. I agree with you that BET should be discontinued. I am writing a paper on racism on college campuses and I ran across this. I thought it was very insightful... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:20 pm
I know people who could be poster children too and then they want to know why people make stereotypes and why they feel they are treated differently. I feel that they are doing it to themselves, and if they wish for the stereotypes to stop, they should take what you just said into consideration.
rays said...
Jan. 5, 2010 at 9:28 pm
Your essay "Colorblind: Racial Ignorance in America" is: 1.Insightful 2.Very mature for an person I take to be about 16 or 17. 3. Shows an acute, and profound understanding of American history. 4. Screams with frustration concenring ones bi-racial heritage. I agree with 99.9% of the ideas you put forth in your piece. I am Catholic, and for me Christ Jesus will always supercede Kawanza. There are so many ways I would like to talk to you about your piece. Let me say this. TO TH... (more »)
s.h.e-flowz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 3:50 pm
I loved the fact that you had such courage to write this and actually post it. Being that I am Black, and don't consider myself to be african american I appreciate how you explained what society does in claiming they have overcome racism but in all actuality it still lives on in many forms whether it is outright or we just segregate ourselves. Fantastic job and great word choice. I believe your English teacher should have had no reason once so ever to not like this because you did an amazing job
silence21 replied...
Dec. 28, 2009 at 8:29 pm
Thank you very much for your comment. I'm happy that people understand where I'm coming from, you know?
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