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?

Similar Articles


This article has 142 comments.

on Jan. 30 2010 at 4:32 pm
Adkinlau BRONZE, Wichita Falls, Texas
1 article 0 photos 4 comments
This was a really good article.

I'm white. I'm not a racist but your right they shouln't have everything focusing on one race like BET, black history month ect.

Keep up the good writing.

on Jan. 11 2010 at 11:10 pm
WOW!!! i really loved this article.. I'm 17 and most of the people that live around me could be the poster child for BET. I was never allowed to watch that channel and I never liked it. I am african american, by the way. But BET is supposed to be so uplifting and empowering for black people but it is just stereotypical; like you said. I agree with you that BET should be discontinued. I am writing a paper on racism on college campuses and I ran across this. I thought it was very insightful. I don't understand why your teacher didn't like your paper, that's kind of crazy, i think. Clearly everyone up here loves it.

on Jan. 6 2010 at 6:03 pm
hvnnorth BRONZE, Ashdown, Arkansas
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
Everyone will hurt you every once in a while, its you who have to choose who is worth fighting for.

i agree with dallen totally!! Make your own blog of this. Many people will love to get thier words out about how they feel over race. i loved your writing! i feel the same as you do.. Keep writing

rays said...
on Jan. 5 2010 at 9:28 pm
Your essay "Colorblind: Racial Ignorance in America" is:
2.Very mature for an person I take to be about 16 or 17.
3. Shows an acute, and profound understanding of American history.
4. Screams with frustration concenring ones bi-racial heritage.
I agree with 99.9% of the ideas you put forth in your piece. I am Catholic, and for me Christ Jesus will always supercede Kawanza. There are so many ways I would like to talk to you about your piece.
Let me say this. TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE.
The Lord God Jesus gave you your parents. It was their charge to love you, to raise you, and to protect you. I assume they did that. You are articulate. You are educated, and you have attained a wisdom beyond your years. "The fruit does not fall far from the tree."
Keep writing.

silence21 GOLD said...
on Dec. 28 2009 at 8:29 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 your comment. I'm happy that people understand where I'm coming from, you know?

on Dec. 28 2009 at 3:50 pm
s.h.e-flowz BRONZE, Fountain, Colorado
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment

Favorite Quote:
Love is Life, Life is Love

I loved the fact that you had such courage to write this and actually post it. Being that I am Black, and don't consider myself to be african american I appreciate how you explained what society does in claiming they have overcome racism but in all actuality it still lives on in many forms whether it is outright or we just segregate ourselves. Fantastic job and great word choice. I believe your English teacher should have had no reason once so ever to not like this because you did an amazing job

luck said...
on Dec. 23 2009 at 8:31 am
I felt it on both sides of the racial fence when I was doing a missionary work in Mississippi in 1969 (the year "they" were going to force bussing to integrate the schools). I was told by the whites, "Y'all better not be goin' to those N--'s homes. Ya know what they did to that white couple last year down in Philadelphia [MS], don't ya?" (The two college students were killed by whites for supposedly stirring up revolt among the blacks. <br />
On another occassion, a black farmer pointed his double-barrel shotgun at me and warned, "Y'all better get your white a** off my property, if ya knows what's good for ya." I was there to help PEOPLE, not ethnicities!<br />
Why can't we all just say, "I am a human being." Instead, people insist on differentiating. I guess I should insist on everyone respecting me for who I am as a Cherokee, Scotch-Irish, English, California-bred Okie, right? <br />
Rather, I would prefer to be respected for being a decent human being? <br />
After all, it's the HUMAN race!<br />
You wanted to know what I thought on the subject.

on Dec. 22 2009 at 8:59 am
dirinity SILVER, Clayton, North Carolina
9 articles 0 photos 59 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Certain things catch your eye,
But pursue only those
that capture your heart.

As a multiracial latina American, I can totally agree with you. On a note, I find it almost humorous when I see Latin/Hispanic Credit Unions, Scholarships, or networks... I mean we want to be equal, but then we run around asking for handouts and all sorts of extra compensation for things that happened forever ago?

I actually had a friend say I wasn't Latina because I didnt creep her out? And was a natural citizen of the USA....?

josh said...
on Dec. 21 2009 at 10:48 am
So I didn’t muddy up the critique, I pushed my own politics aside as much as I possibly could, but I do have a tendency to sound harsh in my critiques. That’s because I’m a surly old jerk, and I don’t like to beat around the bush. Keep this in mind; your level of writing seems more competent than 75% writers out there. This includes writers in local and national publications. <br />
That being said here are my critiques. <br />
Structure: <br />
The first half of your article jumps quickly from historical narrative to the subject of identity. Just when I accepted that I was about to read about your personal struggle with identity, I was abruptly pulled into arguments about Black History Month, Affirmative Action, and BET. You then conclude with a brief commentary on the origins of Social Prejudice and an even briefer remedy for the problem. You had enough information to write at least three articles. When writing, simplicity is important. Reading each section separately, I enjoyed the article, but pushed together, I think it just came off as too much. <br />
Content: <br />
When presenting an argument, a good writer will go out of her way to present the other side of things. There is always bias, that is why the author is writing the piece to begin with, to present her opinion. The reason to present the other side of things is ultimately to strengthen the argument of the writer. It gives the reader the understanding that the author has thought her position completely through. The argument that you presented could definitely use some counterargument. When there is as much focus on your own opinion, then the reader tends to read that as ranting. <br />
You had some good history in your article, which is important to credibility. I would have to say that your arguments, in my opinion, aren’t completely cohesive. Prohibiting the entire practice of celebrating Black History Month because it has become exploited and commercialized could easily be analogized to banning Christmas for the same reason. <br />
Your argument about BET has better cohesion to your personal story of Identity. Although I do understand your argument that BET is contributing to a stereotypical view of African Americans, I think that proposing that it be taken off of the air or removed from basic programming is a much more problematic argument. Your argument jumps into the pool of freedom of expression without wearing any floaters so to speak. If you are going to make this argument, you would need to address that issue directly and then compare it to other networks that cater to other segments of the population, televangelist networks for example, or even right or left wing “commentary” shows. Granted, these don’t explicitly cater to other segments of the population based on race, although I could probably argue otherwise, they certainly do cater to the stereotypes of their audiences. <br />
Overall, I think that you are a very good writer. In order to be a better writer, though, I think you should definitely t

silence21 GOLD said...
on Dec. 20 2009 at 9:37 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 :)

Wheat_Wheat said...
on Dec. 20 2009 at 8:57 pm
This was beautifuly written, and you are right black history month should be prohibited. There are plenty of other races out there that have had hardships as well if not worse. It nice to see their are people out here who think so as well. You seem like a person of high intelect, and I greatly appreciate you having the courage to write this. Again, it is beautifuly written.

dallen said...
on Dec. 16 2009 at 9:28 pm
This is a good article. Grammar needs to be cleaned up a bit if you want to send it to another magazine. If you want me to make suggestions, I'd be happy to do so. My opinion on racists/people with prejudices is that 95% of them are ignorant and 5% are evil. The 95% can get out of it, but they don't live near black/white people and there only view of the other race is what they see on TV. The news doesn't show people like your dad living their normal middle-class lives, it looks only at the high and low end. There is overt racism in the news, as far as I'm concerned.
You should look into the whole Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton thing. I think there is a book called "Shakedown" which I keep meaning to read. There is a lot of money in racism/keeping people pissed at each other/making people pay money to look racially-unbiased.
You could actually turn this topic into a decent study or even a book. As I have said before, I love your writing. I think you should start your own blog. I think you would attract a hellacious (sp?) audience.

renji said...
on Dec. 16 2009 at 8:41 pm
wow. that article really opened my eyes. i like the way you used your affiliation and opinion in the article, and then backed it up with hard evidence and strong reasons to support your ideas.

i also agree that times of the year (like history months, holidays and such), as well as television programs and pop culture/idol dedicated to one racial group or culture further separate different races, and they also tend to highlight what makes all of us different instead of how we are all similar. (and that's what normally causes wars!)

i like your idea about multi-racial relationships too. everyone could use a change. i don't see how culture or race should affect someone's ability to date someone who doesn't match their own skin tone. in fact, it should open your eyes to different cultures and ways of living.

great job.

silence21 GOLD said...
on Dec. 16 2009 at 8:32 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.

Crash is an awesome movie

on Dec. 16 2009 at 8:06 am
Dear Silence21,

That was a wonderful article! I plan to forward it to our local paper.

Yes. We have come a long way, but still have far to go. I feel that the election of Obama has brought deeply ingrained prejudices back to the surface in some people, without them even realizing it. I, for one, agree with you that prejudice is a learned trait. We are not born with hate in our hearts. It must be planted and nurtured. Some people are experts at it!

I note in by book how black people were portrayed, even in my household, as something to be feared and avoided when I was growing up. My parents knew no better, which was common back then. I’m pretty sure that hatred of whites was pretty common among black families at that time as well.

As for myself, when my son entered preschool in 1992, my wife and I visited several of them, and spoke about what we saw. Some were all white. We chose the pre-school our son ended up attending specifically because of the diverse mix of nationalities that were present in that building. We didn't want to make the same mistakes that our parents made. We wanted our son to grow up realizing that there is no difference between black, brown, white or oriental folks. In fact, we didn't want him to even give it a thought.

As a first generation Italian, I grew up in a totally Irish neighborhood, so I felt a certain amount of prejudice myself. I know it doesn't compare with what people of color have to deal with, but it was prejudice just the same.

Unfortunately, I am not even close to being a teenager, but because of that, I have learned quite a bit over the years. We can only control our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. Thus, we can control how we react to racial comments. You can not ignore your mixed heritage. You can be proud of it, and vocally express that pride! If others don’t get it, that is their problem, as you mentioned.

If you grew up during my era, (1950's-1960's) you would see that we have come a long way. Don't let a minority of bigots ruin that fact. Be proud! Be strong! Together we can change the world, one person at a time. You are certainly doing your part.

When confronted with prejudice comments, we need not smile or acknowledge such people. By not conveying approval to such ignorant people, they sometimes get the point.

Keep writing, and best of luck.

Sincerely, The Constant Outsider

danger said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 8:13 pm
Very nice job! You make some great points and some good writing <br />
I know that we will never truly be free of discrimination (against all). That's why I loved the movie Crash, because it portrayed realistically how everyone is prejudiced to some degree and even think in stereotypes regarding their own race. <br />
Then there is the other side me who witnesses the beauty on the very street where I live of children of different races and nationalities playing together, and you can tell they have no concept whatsoever of their differences. They are strictly equals and they know this is right. And they're our future.

on Dec. 13 2009 at 3:40 pm
Very well written, Em! I too agree that America was built on the principles of equality for all and that this equality has been skewed by affirmative action. We have a nation that revels in committees, special interest groups and labels. What we fail to realize is that everything we label, we condemn to some smaller, select group of people and actually diminish its power. Case in point, Black History Month was created to appease African Americans who thought they were still insignificant and discriminated against. Instead, I think highlighting Blacks History only intensifies the differences and the unease White American people have with their antagonistic, slave-driving ancestors. This is not to say all whites owned slaves and treated them as such, but I believe the more we differentiate ourselves as a people, the more bigotry and discrimination will continue to exist. The fact that you choose to ignore your biracial roots is admirable b/c, like President Obama has said several times, we are looking ahead, not behind. I'm not sure why your teacher didn't like this article. Clearly, your voice and writing speak for themselves!

silence21 GOLD said...
on Dec. 13 2009 at 2:08 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.

Well, thank you.

Actually, my teacher last year didn't like that I wrote this.

on Dec. 13 2009 at 12:52 pm
GiSELA SILVER, Escondido, California
7 articles 0 photos 53 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life is about doing things people said you couldn't do.


Good JOb, if your a student i bet your english teacher would give you extra credit for this!

jerry said...
on Dec. 12 2009 at 10:13 pm
Very well written, and I think heartfelt. I couldn't agree more. I've been discrimated against myself in jobs here in the Bay Area, simply because I was not black. But there it is.

You knowm things used to be very cool during the sixties. I think the anger just boiled up over the edge of the pot when MLK was killed, and got worse with the movie Roots. Things got pretty ugly after that. But during the sixties, truth was, we really did get along and really did party