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!

luck said...
Dec. 23, 2009 at 8:31 am
I felt it on both sides of the racial fence when I was doing a missionary work in Mississippi in 1969 (the year "they" were going to force bussing to integrate the schools). I was told by the whites, "Y'all better not be goin' to those N--'s homes. Ya know what they did to that white couple last year down in Philadelphia [MS], don't ya?" (The two college students were killed by whites for supposedly stirring up revolt among the blacks. <br /> On another occassion, a black farmer pointed hi... (more »)
mandapanda91 said...
Dec. 22, 2009 at 8:59 am
As a multiracial latina American, I can totally agree with you. On a note, I find it almost humorous when I see Latin/Hispanic Credit Unions, Scholarships, or networks... I mean we want to be equal, but then we run around asking for handouts and all sorts of extra compensation for things that happened forever ago?
I actually had a friend say I wasn't Latina because I didnt creep her out? And was a natural citizen of the USA....?
silence21 replied...
Dec. 21, 2010 at 9:42 pm

Thank you so much. I know how you feel about the people 'not being creeped out'. It's dumb, it really is.

Thanks so much

josh said...
Dec. 21, 2009 at 10:48 am
So I didn’t muddy up the critique, I pushed my own politics aside as much as I possibly could, but I do have a tendency to sound harsh in my critiques. That’s because I’m a surly old jerk, and I don’t like to beat around the bush. Keep this in mind; your level of writing seems more competent than 75% writers out there. This includes writers in local and national publications. <br /> That being said here are my critiques. <br /> Structure: <br /> The firs... (more »)
Wheat_Wheat said...
Dec. 20, 2009 at 8:57 pm
This was beautifuly written, and you are right black history month should be prohibited. There are plenty of other races out there that have had hardships as well if not worse. It nice to see their are people out here who think so as well. You seem like a person of high intelect, and I greatly appreciate you having the courage to write this. Again, it is beautifuly written.
silence21 replied...
Dec. 20, 2009 at 9:37 pm
Thank you very much :)
dallen said...
Dec. 16, 2009 at 9:28 pm
Em: This is a good article. Grammar needs to be cleaned up a bit if you want to send it to another magazine. If you want me to make suggestions, I'd be happy to do so. My opinion on racists/people with prejudices is that 95% of them are ignorant and 5% are evil. The 95% can get out of it, but they don't live near black/white people and there only view of the other race is what they see on TV. The news doesn't show people like your dad living their normal middle-class lives, it lo... (more »)
hvnnorth replied...
Jan. 6, 2010 at 6:03 pm
i agree with dallen totally!! Make your own blog of this. Many people will love to get thier words out about how they feel over race. i loved your writing! i feel the same as you do.. Keep writing
silence21 replied...
Aug. 20, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I would actually love to make a blog, but I feel that I am mildly compute/Internet challenged. lol

Thank you for reading my piece and I hope you enjoyed it as much as you said.

renji said...
Dec. 16, 2009 at 8:41 pm
wow. that article really opened my eyes. i like the way you used your affiliation and opinion in the article, and then backed it up with hard evidence and strong reasons to support your ideas.
i also agree that times of the year (like history months, holidays and such), as well as television programs and pop culture/idol dedicated to one racial group or culture further separate different races, and they also tend to highlight what makes all of us different instead of how we are all simila... (more »)
TheConstantOutsider said...
Dec. 16, 2009 at 8:06 am
Dear Silence21,
That was a wonderful article! I plan to forward it to our local paper.
Yes. We have come a long way, but still have far to go. I feel that the election of Obama has brought deeply ingrained prejudices back to the surface in some people, without them even realizing it. I, for one, agree with you that prejudice is a learned trait. We are not born with hate in our hearts. It must be planted and nurtured. Some people are experts at it!
I note in by book how bl... (more »)
danger said...
Dec. 14, 2009 at 8:13 pm
Very nice job! You make some great points and some good writing <br /> I know that we will never truly be free of discrimination (against all). That's why I loved the movie Crash, because it portrayed realistically how everyone is prejudiced to some degree and even think in stereotypes regarding their own race. <br /> Then there is the other side me who witnesses the beauty on the very street where I live of children of different races and nationalities playing together, and you can ... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Dec. 16, 2009 at 8:32 pm
Crash is an awesome movie
tylercpedersen said...
Dec. 13, 2009 at 3:40 pm
Very well written, Em! I too agree that America was built on the principles of equality for all and that this equality has been skewed by affirmative action. We have a nation that revels in committees, special interest groups and labels. What we fail to realize is that everything we label, we condemn to some smaller, select group of people and actually diminish its power. Case in point, Black History Month was created to appease African Americans who thought they were still insignificant and... (more »)
silence21 said...
Dec. 13, 2009 at 2:08 pm
Well, thank you.
Actually, my teacher last year didn't like that I wrote this.
yelsse<3 said...
Dec. 13, 2009 at 12:52 pm
Good JOb, if your a student i bet your english teacher would give you extra credit for this!
jerry said...
Dec. 12, 2009 at 10:13 pm
Very well written, and I think heartfelt. I couldn't agree more. I've been discrimated against myself in jobs here in the Bay Area, simply because I was not black. But there it is.
You knowm things used to be very cool during the sixties. I think the anger just boiled up over the edge of the pot when MLK was killed, and got worse with the movie Roots. Things got pretty ugly after that. But during the sixties, truth was, we really did get along and really did party
soul said...
Dec. 12, 2009 at 2:16 pm
I'm happy you finally called out BET. We really do need to end it.
Boneonyx said...
Dec. 10, 2009 at 8:31 pm
-bow- your hits to rascim were powerful. the research you put into this, getting the facts accurate about affirmative action and how rosa parks truly felt made me feel like this was a college level documentary, i absolutly loved it!!! i of course am no one to kiss up to someone just to be nice and make them feel good, this piece of work truly hit home because it covered over ten (actual) aspects of our society that would be better off if we didnt single out the black minority and just flat out f... (more »)
boneonyx said...
Dec. 9, 2009 at 10:01 pm
bow- your hits to rascim were powerful. the research you put into this, getting the facts accurate about affirmative action and how rosa parks truly felt made me feel like this was a college level documentary, i absolutly loved it!!! i of course am no one to kiss up to someone just to be nice and make them feel good, this piece of work truly hit home because it covered over ten (actual) aspects of our society that would be better off if we didnt single out the black minority and just flat out fe... (more »)
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