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!

boneonyx said...
Dec. 9, 2009 at 10:00 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 »)
Daniel said...
Dec. 9, 2009 at 5:48 am
really appreciate this article. I also have a problem with the stereotypes imposed by society, and it really does begin with the individual. Unfortunately, you have to understand that alot of people dont have the natural intellect to understand the influence that the media and other forms of manipulation have over them. I have always been very intolerant of racial stereotypes, for a number of reasons. Primarily the fact that I have known many people from different ethnic backgrounds, good and ba... (more »)
DirtySouth said...
Dec. 8, 2009 at 8:33 pm
I have to tell you, your essay was very stated, polished, articulate and very well written. I am completely impressed and in awe of your self awareness. You have my respect and I mean that in all sincerity
Multiplex said...
Dec. 7, 2009 at 8:15 pm
Once again well written piece Em and its good that you put some of your own personal experiences in there.
I can't say I agree with all of them.I think its sad when anyone doesn't care about their heritage - but at least your honest.
I wish Kwanzaa could replace Christmas the seven principles are so much better than what Christmas has become a bunch of hype to get people to buy buy buy basically things they could live without.
The Seven Principles (Nguzo Saba) of... (more »)
deborah said...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 10:18 pm
Great article Em.
Prejudice hardly just belongs to the color of our skin as you have pointed out. It is sad that the world feels anything but who we are inside matters.
I think things are changing slowly as you say and those who try to bring about change don't always do the right thing for sure.
We should all be proud of what we do to further ourselves and those around us and delight in who we are.
love and hugs
silence21 replied...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 10:27 pm
Thank you Deb, I really appreciate it. :)
dev said...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 5:43 pm
Amazing article, Emster. And I am so proud of you. I agree with everything you said. Stereotyping is never a good thing. You know I just think of you as a bright beautiful intelligent young woman. Race has never entered into it, which is healthy. Keep up the excellent work. I give you an A+.
silence21 replied...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 8:15 pm
Thank you...:)
Thewordwright said...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 2:48 pm
That my young friend is an excellent article! you have a really excellent future as an author. Yep kids notice differences (hey that's why little boys and girls play doctor... to see the differences that are hidden.)
silence21 replied...
Dec. 6, 2009 at 10:14 pm
I loved playing doctor....
Anyways, thanks for reading this. I really appreciate your feedback :)
GuyFawkes said...
Dec. 4, 2009 at 10:09 pm
read it - and all the follow-on comments - and i agree with a great deal of what you said. i think it was a well-thought-out, passionate (without going overboard), well-documented piece. excellent job! once again (and please dont' be offended time, please) i have to say that you are articulate and intelligent (and yes, many other fifteen year olds are too, but many of them are not as...globally aware as you are.)
i didn't graduate from college until i was about thirty. i graduat... (more »)
silence21 replied...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 10:28 pm
Thanks for sharing your story, makes you think
PatriotBaller said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 8:51 pm
When you're older do you are you going to teach your childrren about their heritage? Or are you going to pretend that its not something important? I think you should beccause it'd only be fair to them
silence21 replied...
Dec. 4, 2009 at 8:36 pm
I do plan on teaching my kids our heritage, but I'd like them to know that they are the same as everyone else and should be treated equally.
caitlin.calamity replied...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 10:05 pm
How is that relavent?
silence21 replied...
Dec. 5, 2009 at 10:19 pm
This is really random, but I liked your thing on bullying
WOWplayer said...
Dec. 3, 2009 at 6:08 am
i see where ppl would thnk that youre being racist in this, it sounds like youre hating on african americans but youre not youre just making a statement
Sk8rbabe said...
Dec. 2, 2009 at 10:01 pm
And I told about equality
An it's true
Either you're wrong
Or you're right
But, if
You're thinkin'
About my baby
It don't matter if you're
Black or white
-from the late Michael Jackson
silence21 replied...
Dec. 4, 2009 at 8:39 pm
Ebony And Ivory Live Together In Perfect Harmony
Side By Side On My Piano Keyboard, Oh Lord, Why Don't We?
We All Know That People Are The Same Where Ever We Go
There Is Good And Bad In Ev'ryone,
We Learn To Live, We Learn To Give
Each Other What We Need To Survive Together Alive.
Ebony And Ivory Live Together In Perfect Harmony
Side By Side On My Piano Keyboard, Oh Lord Why Don't We?
Ebony, Ivory Living In Perfect Harmonymore »)
BigBlueBeasty101 said...
Dec. 2, 2009 at 9:42 pm
I like your word choice, it's nice enough to understand but I don't feel like someone dumbed it down for us. You really spoke from the heart.
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