Racism Essay: The Paradox Of Colorblindness

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Sue Ying Tay
Paper 1
The Paradox of Colorblindness
We live in a liberal society, not a liberated one. We have developed the ability to live with those biologically and culturally different from us. But the concept and effects of race remain. Race is not merely a characterization of phenotypes. Race is also a cultural definition imposed on us by historical context. Race, in essence, is an idea. It is the classification of others within realms of their single story and living within the confines of our own single story. Racism is fear of that idea. Racism is power.
In a contemporary sense, however, racism is the claim that racism does not exist. The new ideal of colorblindness serves to promote niceness politics. The refusal to acknowledge the pervasiveness of racism is the new racism. Society promotes the use of politically correct terms and the idea of equality when the mentality of racism is far from extinct. The act of even recognizing race, of recognizing the mental associations with race, is in fact racism. This state of neutrality is a luxury only the privileged can access. This impartiality is the exertion of power by the racially privileged and is increasingly destructive towards the ‘other’.

The first effect of racism is a sense of loss. Children are first exposed to the world beyond their families via print and media. Western literature and movies often paint a similar picture – of blonde hair, blue-eyed children climbing trees and eating apples. This, as discussed by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in her TED talk ‘The Dangers of a Single Story’, subjects children to the single story of what books and childhood should be like. The sense of loss emerges when children of minority realize the reality of their lives wo...

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...lid command of English. Racism is discussing cases of overt racism in relation to one’s own wellbeing. Racism is having a pre-prepared explanation for one’s cultural instincts. The culmination of these seemingly subtle acts supplement the extent of racial melancholy, affecting the mentality of those subject to it.

Cheng writes that racial grief is then translated into social ideals by the racialized. The feelings of melancholy and being ostracized become naturalized and racial ideals that were imposed become the ideals to live up to. For example, Asians feel the need to be mathematically inclined, and tend to be apologetic if not. The single story of the smart Asian, the Asian that studies all day, thus becomes the Asian’s identity that is internalized and pursued. There is a gradual acceptance of the impossibility of attaining ‘whiteness’ – the paragon of race.
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