Colour Blindness

by laeti.y.felix on January 26, 2015 - 11:16pm

            Racism is everywhere.  Controversial sentence?  Yes.  But true?  Maybe.  It depends on who you ask.  Racism can come in all different shapes and sizes, and it can be exposed to us nowadays in such subliminal ways that we don't even realize it happens, where as opposed to fifty or sixty years ago, racism was very direct.  Colour blindness is a term that is more commonly used today than it was several decades ago.  In racial terms, colour blindness may be defined as disregarding someone's skin tone/colour, culture, ethnicity, and etc. in attempt to end discrimination and prejudices against someone of a different background as you.  In the article published in the Washington Post on January 23rd, 2015 by Jonathan Capehart called "Seeing Beyond 'Black or White' " explores the idea behind colour blindness, especially after the author watched the new movie 'Black or White' starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer.  The movie is simply about two sets of grandparents who fight for custody over their biracial grandchild.  I think Capehart reflects upon a different aspect of racism that the movie has brought out into the limelight.

            The Washington Post is a reputable source when it comes to reliable news.  The articles are written by highly educated individuals who have done extensive research on the topics they have chosen to write about or they specialize in such fields.

            In essence, what is racism?  Racism is an arbitrary term, and may change according to who you ask, but as a common understanding, North Americans understand racism as a discrimination and prejudice against a specific person or group of people based on their different skin colour and/or has a different cultural background as you.  The majority of racist comments and activity would be typically directed towards a minority group.  Therefore in Canada and the United States, the minority groups would be all those whom are not of visible Caucasian descent.  Scientifically, you cannot figure out what someone's 'race' was if you found their skeletal remains.  But for the sake of this conversation, let's take the definition of racism as someone who has a visibly different skin colour than you.

            In Capehart’s article, he highlights that when first meeting or seeing someone, it is not wrong to first notice that someone is black, brown, etc. and this is something that he had mulled over after it was a topic that was brought up in the movie.  It is not wrong to notice what someone’s physical features are first.  What might be wrong is what your immediate thoughts after this first observation would be.  For example, if I noticed a black man walking by me, it isn’t bad that I noticed he was black.  But if my following thoughts were that maybe this man was to steal my purse or I need to walk a bit further away from this man because I thought he was dangerous, these thoughts would be interpreted as racist because I associated these violent acts to his skin colour.  But if I saw this black man, and I did not give his skin colour a second thought, or I thought that maybe he had a nice complexion, those types of thoughts would not be considered as racist.  Capehart explains that when going about our day-to-day lives, we should try to catch ourselves in our own thoughts.  We should give more thought and weight to what we are actually thinking about when looking at someone or meeting someone for the first time.  When we begin to realize what we are actually thinking about after noticing someone’s skin colour first, our first impressions or thoughts about ourselves and other can really change our perspectives in an enlightening way.


If you would like to read Capehart’s article, the link to his article is as follows:


This article expresses themes which we have studied in our contemporary issues class such a racism and being prejudice. The author is promoting the spread of "Colour Blindness" in hopes of ending this discrimination. I strongly agree with this movement. Surely today's racism is not as obvious as that seen in earlier times although the discrimination is still present in our society and it must come to an end.