Recently, Ward Connerly announced his plans to further reach toward a “colorblind society” through the Racial Privacy Initiative, which would prohibit most state agencies from requesting information on one’s race.
I commend Mr. Connerly on his drive to move our nation into an age of true racial equality. While I believe that his intentions are pure, I sincerely doubt whether he has chosen the right path toward racial equality.
Let’s start our analysis with looking at the word “colorblind.” Webster’s defines it as “affected with partial or total inability to distinguish one or more chromatic colors.” It goes on to use the terms “insensitive” and “oblivious.” Recognize that nowhere in the definition is it inferred that differences do not exist. Instead it focuses on an individual’s inability to distinguish these differences.
Colorblindness is not something we should aspire to, but rather an affliction that hinders our ability to function in the real world. When driving, how can you tell the difference between a red light and a yellow one if you are colorblind? Not knowing the difference could cost someone his or her very life. We rely on our ability to perceive differences in order to function in life. And in the absence of such input, we are forced to react with incomplete information.
Colorblindness will make it impossible to reach true equality of opportunity. It is commonly agreed upon that there are certain racial disparities in this country. There are disproportionately more blacks in our penal system. Predominantly minority schools are more likely to be under-funded and function in run-down facilities than other, less diverse schools. Statistics show that ethnic minorities are more likely to earn a lower wage or have a harder time getting a job than non-ethnic minorities with similar education and work backgrounds. How can we ever reach parity in these areas if we eliminate the ability to measure our success?
As stated in the beginning, I believe that Ward Connerly’s intentions are based on a true commitment to equality. However, his Racial Privacy Initiative, as well as his quest for a colorblind society, subscribes to the old “ignorance is bliss” philosophy. Ignoring our differences and the historical disparities related to those differences, does not mean that they do no exist. But rather, it allows us to turn a deaf ear to discrimination, injustice and inequality. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s just plain ignorant!