Thursday, May 22, 2014


I read an article called "Why Do Millennials Not UnderstandRacism?" the other day. My kneejerk reaction for most articles that have "Why Millennials ______" in the title is blind hatred-- I've seen a few too many op-eds about how we're ruining the earth with our technology, or whatever-- but in this case, I was pleasantly surprised.

The article hits on the fact that most people of my (or our-- I don't know your life) generation believe in something called "colorblindness," or claiming that they "don't see" race, and how this is actually detrimental:
"Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and diverse and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness. At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race, opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality, and a bit confused about what racism is.
 Seventy-three percent believe that “never considering race would improve society,” and 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.”
From these results, it’s clear that—like most Americans—millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation. If we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism—or don’t talk about it at all—and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism—where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes—are muddled and confused.Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it."
I don't have the knowledge or authority to speak on the subject, but it's certainly worth thinking about. The problems with colorblindness were something I was already familiar with, but I was really impressed that  my physical anthropology class covered it-- we learned that race is an entirely societal construct, but also that ignoring it serves to ignore how it's perpetuated structurally. Which I feel is a really rare thing for a lower division class to talk about. Though that may just be because my English teacher last semester made us read articles on how the ideal future is one in which we just claim whatever ethnicity we think is cool, as though that's a solution to anything.

Stay classy,


1 comment: