Colour-blind racism (1970- ), also known as aversive racism, is racism that acts as if skin colour does not matter – even when it does. It is the most common form of racism among white Americans who grew up after the fall of Jim Crow in the 1960s. It takes the place of Jim Crow racism, the meaner, more naked white racism common in the 1950s and before.
Political correctness and the idea of hate speech grew out of colour-blind racism. So did the welfare queen and model minority stereotypes. It helped to spread the word “African American”.
Colour-blind racists say things like this:
- It’s not race, it’s economics …
- It’s not race, it’s culture …
- It’s not race, it depends on a person’s background …
- I’m not prejudiced, but …
- I’m not black, but …
- One of my best friends is black.
- My cousin married a black man.
- I voted for Barack Obama.
- I don’t see you as black.
And believe things like this:
- I am not racist.
- Blacks are not willing to work hard.
- Blacks want everything handed to them.
- Blacks hold themselves back, not racism.
- Blacks are unfairly favoured, whites are not.
- Blacks do not want to live with us (or eat at our table).
- Blacks live in the past. They need to get over it and move on.
- Blacks need to pull themselves up from the bottom like everyone else.
- Blacks cry racism for everything even though they are the racist ones.
Notice how white people never seem to do anything bad.
While they would agree with most of those statements, they would have a hard time saying them straight out like that. Race makes them uncomfortable. Their statements would be more long-winded and watered down, throwing in phrases like those from the first list, even the one about the cousin.
They seem to think that if they do not say the words then racism will somehow go away by magic. As if racism is just a matter of words.
They rarely think of themselves as “white” and avoid saying the word “black” in public, even when they are thinking it. Their supposed colour-blindness is a front.
For example, I have heard white people talk about someone who I knew had to be black just by the way they bent over backwards to avoid saying the word “black”. Yet when they left the room and thought I could not hear, they said “black” just as plain as day, as if they were talking about their dress.
They avoid the word “race” too. Instead they use words like “culture”, “background”, “ethnicity”. That is why they like the word “African American” so much: it seems colour-blind.
They are not as mean or violent as Jim Crow racists, nor do they wear their racism well. Unlike Jim Crow racists, they are willing to vote for a black man for president. But they still look down on blacks and still believe the stereotypes, adding some of their own.
They are not as colour-blind as they think. The only colour they are truly blind to is white.
- colour-blind racism: the four frames
- Jim Crow racism
- How white people think
- Whites are still racist
- All whites are racist
- what this racism defends: white privilege
- what grew out of this sort of racism: