Colorblind: Racial Ignorance in America | Teen Ink

Colorblind: Racial Ignorance in America

November 21, 2009
By silence21 GOLD, Terre Haute, Indiana
silence21 GOLD, Terre Haute, Indiana
11 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
I hope to change someones life one word at a time. Hopefully, it's a positive change and it's for the better, but any change at all is a step to an amazing new future.

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.

The author's comments:
Growing up I've realized the world is colder than it used to be. People still hate people for their race and religion, so how can we say we've come so far?

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This article has 142 comments.

Dman BRONZE said...
on Mar. 1 2021 at 5:27 pm
Dman BRONZE, Marshall, Virginia
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
Im probably going to sound like a teacher but I really do like this and also really like some of those words you used throughout your article to clearly state your opinion and really love the opening that really did grab me to your main point.

on Oct. 19 2020 at 8:21 am
LightForce9258, Ewing, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 8 comments
This relates to America today. No matter how hard we try, we will take two steps back and then two steps foward and the cycle repeats.

on Mar. 12 2019 at 11:13 am
Freya_Wilson BRONZE, York, Other
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
I feel that if people are discriminating about someones race then they obviously aren't bothered to get to know what the person is really like and that even though that person is being mean you should just focus on the positive things that surround you. As a person who 's majority of friends are from all around the world I was taught from a young age not to discriminate. Sometimes people question why I hang around with people who aren't fully fluent in English. So I say well there a heck load nicer with their English than you are. This always makes the bond between me and my friends grow stronger.

OniTennyo said...
on Oct. 2 2014 at 2:22 pm
I feel the exact same way, but I couldn't put it into words. It's nice to know that someone is out there who shares the same ideals as me.

on May. 13 2013 at 12:05 am
NightVoice SILVER, Montrose, California
6 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Existence precedes essence." - Sartre

The problem with taking away cultural identity is only worsens the root cause of racism. We can't solve for discrimination simply by forcing everyone to see us as simply "human." It just not realistic. Besides, maintaining our culture, heritage, and all other things that come along with being "different" is necessary to have a greater sense of individuality. Like you say, it's "their problem" if they decide to single out your race. But I think that race and culture are inherent parts of existence as an individual.

joanna said...
on Oct. 11 2012 at 2:14 pm
so true this is still aproblem today in school and the sad part is that its not just agrainst colored people but its also with gay lesbian students talking behind other peoples back i just hope one day they realize the damage that they are doing to the person.

on Jul. 7 2012 at 1:28 am
MiaUnwritten GOLD, West Palm Beach, Florida
11 articles 0 photos 31 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Let the eyes seek what the mind cannot
Let the eyes judge what the mind cannot
Let the eyes believe what the mind failed to"

I believe your writing is beyond awesome to adress such a cause that is so true. Nobody has yet moved on from racism, there are still many discriminations that still takes place. I believe one day, I have faith tha the day when racism will be gone, I will still live to see it.

GABSALOTT96 said...
on Oct. 13 2011 at 6:21 pm
GABSALOTT96, Lake Wylie, South Carolina
0 articles 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain."
— Bob Marley

Right now, I'm getting more generalizations from this than anything. People have definitely wronged you and offended you before, and I'm not excusing that. But I think you've then placed these people in a group of those who just recognize and speak on the differences in culture. There's a lot of gems in everything, and from being around "Shaniqua's" and "Tyrone's" I can say that there's a difference between them and "Doug". Just because someone has the courage to have a question about the difference and ask or state it doesn't make them a racist.  Hope this helps!

Veronica said...
on Aug. 23 2011 at 12:02 am
I'm so glad that someone else is experiencing this, too. I'm Hafrican (white mom, deceased black dad) in a predominately white and Asian town. People are constanly asking me what ethnicity I am and accuse me of lying when I say I'm half black. Several people have assumed that I'm hispanic because of my "coloring." In fact, I'll never forget when my freshman Spanish teacher singled me out in class and said she was shocked that I had never been to Mexico. People who can tell that I'm half black ask me if my dad plays basketball, if I'd ever date a white boy, why I act so white, etc. It's aggravating to feel like I'm just a color to people, and that they take one look at me and label me based on my skin. Just hold your head up high. Give it 20 years and there will be so many mixed people that we no longer think about it.

silence21 GOLD said...
on Aug. 8 2011 at 5:15 pm
silence21 GOLD, Terre Haute, Indiana
11 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
I hope to change someones life one word at a time. Hopefully, it's a positive change and it's for the better, but any change at all is a step to an amazing new future.

I myself do not have much, and I know people who are less fortunate, and yes, it is hard for people out there, I understand that. But,  the people I know have had horrible childhoods, and brought themselves out of the situation on their own.

Thank you for your comment, it is much appreciated.

silence21 GOLD said...
on Jul. 21 2011 at 8:39 pm
silence21 GOLD, Terre Haute, Indiana
11 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
I hope to change someones life one word at a time. Hopefully, it's a positive change and it's for the better, but any change at all is a step to an amazing new future.

Thank you very much for insight, and I will check my facts again. I believe this was written out of anger towards a teacher and ignorant friends at my school. Again, thank you.

on Jul. 21 2011 at 5:01 pm
And please excuse the double writing at the end of my comment.  I don't know how nor why it appears that way.   Again, continue with your writing!

on Jul. 21 2011 at 4:58 pm

Young lady, continue with developing your writing by supporting your thesis with additional Concent Detail rather than commentary.   Concentrate on researching your thesis topic to the fullest in the areas of cultural and social injustices, American History outside of your Unified School Districts book company of choice,  and Civil Cases pro or con Affrimative Action so that your writings show substance to your opinion and/or stance. 

Sidenote: research slave ships and citizens who were victimized in the kidnapping Africans from the Horn and where those ships docked "if" on the soil of United States (interesting little known historic fact but why it's important points to something you mentioned in your article) and how that interplays mentally into sterotypical views.  Lastly, it is not a sterotype feed by BET when it comes to "red" kool-aid (it's red kool-aid----red) that's an inside joke of love amonst the African American community that should have been broken down to you by someone in your family as to its orgins and meaning.  It is NOT the same as the "chicken and watermelon" sterotype which is not only offensive, but stupid at best.  Race relations on a social level begins with education.  Continue with yours and with your writing. 

Rubio SILVER said...
on Jun. 15 2011 at 11:35 pm
Rubio SILVER, San Franscisco, California
9 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like its heaven on earth.”Mark Twain
I will not play tug o' war. I'd rather play hug o' war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins.
-Shel Silverstein


I was very confused about the messages you put out in your piece. Some were black pride and some were very negative toward the black community. And to be honest boo, it hurts me so deep inside, when black people are not proud of their race.I'm reading the comments and I see you bringing up Polish people. Honey, native polish people look white. And let me put this in, being black isn't only about the color but the experience and the understanding of what it means to be black. Okay. And as much research as you might have have done to produce this piece, you haven't seemed to fully wrap around the idea of what it means to both be proud and black and know about it. Cause, let me tell you why black people should be gettin scholarships. Just like someone said, who you completely disagreed with, black people are at the bottom of the totem pole. When you turn on the news, who is getting all the negative media? Most of the time, a black person. Most often, a black male. How do you think they got into that situation? From being forced in the projects their whole life. This is what society has done. Black people have been given the cold shoulder. Have you read books on the subject? They go into detail and it's sad. It makes me so passionate about trying to help out the black community as much as I can. So, as I was saying, why is it that black people are always the victim in racial jokes? people try saying slick jokes at me all the time acting like it's all good. like, haha. and i would never dare say something racist to someone else. and you don't only have to identify as black. Cus let me tell you now, I'm black, white, and puertorriqueña. I represent being a latina too. And you need to look at the projects . Mostly black. The projects are like the sewer, nothing good. So put yourself in the little kids shoes who HAVE to live there. from a young age they are exposed to slang, guns, and gang banging, drugs, and weapons, living a thug life.  And when someone doesn't want to become a product of their environment, people tear them down because of their living situations, how they talk, and how they dress. and most of the time, they're in that situation because their parents don't have a bunch of money. so if you don't have a lot of money and all of your homies are going to jail and scrappin' and sellin dope, gettin shot, then what would you do? you need a scholarship. So many young black guys too, have you heard of drivebys? Black on black crime? Meaningless violence. All from young black guys who get ahold of weapons and "are mad at the world cus they came from a broken home"(2pac). So also, when they see a young dude doing good, they get mad cus they "can't" have the life that person has. And bang! Another guy gets shot. Then, because the stereotypes are constantly getting pushed on them, they are constantly burdened by the actions of others. So they start to believe the stereotypes and take them in and make them part of who they are.  They lose hope.  H

silence21 GOLD said...
on May. 1 2011 at 11:11 am
silence21 GOLD, Terre Haute, Indiana
11 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
I hope to change someones life one word at a time. Hopefully, it's a positive change and it's for the better, but any change at all is a step to an amazing new future.

Thank you for commenting and its nice to know people can relate to this =)

on May. 1 2011 at 12:34 am
andrewh93 BRONZE, Monroe, Utah
1 article 0 photos 4 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." -Ralph Waldo Emerson

I agree with almost every point you've made here, and I think you're right. It's not often I see an article so convincing about reverse discrimination, but even rarer do I see one that seems like it's got some good, solid facts behind it.

I think, however, that many of the discrimination problems in today's society come from the media and "Political Correctness", and I do think that there are some people out there who take advantage of that to be downright racist to whites. (Racisim is a two-way street, my friends).

I guess that my agreeing with you and being about as white as they come could get me into some big media scandal or whatnot, but I agree nonetheless. I mean, in my school we have many students come up from the Reservations in Arizona to study at our 'better schools', and so we normally celebrate Native American Week. It's normally great fun, but just last year a couple of the Navajo students complained that one of the days that week was going to be used to observe Veteran's Day, on the grounds that it was offensive to them because we were ignoring a day to remember the Native People and their troubles to pray for people who were mostly white (which is false). Rather than make a big stink about things, the school responded by simply not acknowledging Veteran's Day. (The result? The community made a big stink since most of the students in the school currently had close family stationed in the Middle East)

Ah, I guess much of that isn't pertainent exactly to your article, but it's nice to know I'm not the only person out there seeing discrimination from and towards just about everybody.

on Apr. 28 2011 at 11:14 am
TerraAnimusPatronus BRONZE, Eden, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 61 comments

Favorite Quote:
«You are either the best kept secret or just surrounded by blind people.»

I can relate to it to im mixed black dad and a white mom but because im so dark they say that i cant be mixed that im mexican or indian but i always hace to explain my ethnicity to people and i think that it doesnt really matter becasue im still a human being and i dont have to prove anything to anyone about my Race it just gets me so angry sometimes when people are just stupid and say stuff about someone because of their race and it just needs to stop.

silence21 GOLD said...
on Apr. 14 2011 at 8:06 pm
silence21 GOLD, Terre Haute, Indiana
11 articles 0 photos 58 comments

Favorite Quote:
I hope to change someones life one word at a time. Hopefully, it's a positive change and it's for the better, but any change at all is a step to an amazing new future.

Thanks for commenting =)

Black History Month is 28 Days

on Apr. 12 2011 at 9:49 pm
shewrites22 BRONZE, Brooklyn, New York
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
While I thought you article was well-written and there were certainly good points (how you are percieved as "other because you're mixed, that black history month is exploited), I also have to echo some of what others have said. Honestly, this article makes it seem like you have some deep-rooted issues with the black race in general. You highlight only the negatives of black culture and seem to cite it as being the main cause of racial ignorance in whites. I agree that at this point, BET is ridiculous. While I appreciate the idea of having predominantly black casts in a world of TV and film run by and represented primarily by whites, I also think that BET just reinforces black sterotypes. However, I think you wrongfully attacked black history month. Yeah, we should incorporate black history, because it is a part of American history, into our lives yearround. But we don't have that. Black history month is well-intentioned in trying to include black history and culture into all American lives, even just for 30 days. 

on Apr. 1 2011 at 10:11 pm
morethanunusual BRONZE, Metuchen, New Jersey
2 articles 0 photos 14 comments
i think people try so hard not to be racist that they become racist unintentionally.