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Colorblind People and the Ku Klux Klan

The discourse of difference and conflicts of difference is so impoverished that it makes a colored person looking at a picture of the Ku Klux Klan find something in it that he or she can appreciate. The Ku Klux Klan bothers to cut holes in their sheets to see what colorblind people claim does not and should not matter when it comes to the social relations of power viz., to subordination and domination in society, politics and economy.

From the vantage point of eRacism, colorblindness is an impaired vision of the reality of the life and lives of ‘colored’ folks. It is an affliction suffered most often by ‘white moderates’ who efface difference. Reality for a colorblind person is limited to what is in their line-of-sight.  When they see a ‘wise Latina‘ they do not see the ways that her life has been lived and colored by her experience of difference growing up in the Bronx, a place where U.S. justice is supreme but where other current Supreme Court justices would not walk let alone reside.  When they see a black male returning home from a trip to China trying to open the jammed door to his house they see a burglar instead of a distinguished Harvard professor coming home. When they go to an all white Republican town hall meeting they do not notice the absence of visible minorities. Colorblind people acknowledge categories of diversity but not the ways in which the lives of persons are colored by the social and historical differences that sex, race, gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity represent. Colorblind people are not unlike holocaust deniers.

In a not so benign sense, colorblind people are equal and opposite to the Ku Klux Klan. They are equal in that their perception of difference surrenders ‘colored’ people to the tyranny of the indifference that buttresses prejudice, hate, and discrimination. They are the grassroots of the willing and willful silent majority that makes inhumanity not only possible but extreme.  Unlike the Ku Klux Klan they do not hide themselves behind white robes but rather behind a sense of ‘sameness’ that makes them, from the vantage point of eRacism and the standpoint of the life and lives colored by difference, ‘white’.

“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate…” Martin Luther King Jr. April 16, 1963

Overall colorblind people are worse than the Ku Klux Klan who at least acknowledge the reality if not the social validity of difference and how lives are colored by difference. Although unpleasant and unlikely jumping off points, conflicts of difference can be the beginning of a process; a new beginning; a genesis.  The Ku Klux Klan and ‘colored’ people agree that difference exist; that difference matters and that there is a question of the social validity of difference when it comes to social relations of power. At least here is a conflict of difference in which colored people are afforded the benefits and chance of struggle.

The comparison between colorblind people and the Ku Klux Klan does not in any way celebrate difference in conflict but rather is a recognition of conflicts of difference that hold the possibility, however faint, of a resolution. You cannot resolve conflicts that you claim not to see nor can you deal with a colored reality that in the line-of-sight reality of a colorblind person does not matter when it comes to jobs, justice, equality and rights.

The discourse of difference and conflicts of difference is so impoverished that it makes a colored person looking at a picture of the Ku Klux Klan find something in it that he or she can appreciate. The Ku Klux Klan bothers to cut holes in their sheets to see what colorblind people claim does not and should not matter when it comes to the social relations of power viz., to subordination and domination in society, politics and economy.

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” Martin Luther King Jr. April 16, 1963

A person that proudly proclaims that they are colorblind, that they do not see race, gender, sex, ethnicity or sex orientation of other people mean to communicate to us that these categories of difference do not matter or make a difference when it comes to jobs, justice, rights and opportunities. The logic behind the thinking that effaces difference is reminiscent of the three-fifths compromise that allowed Southern slave holding states an economic advantage when it came to the distribution of taxes and a political advantage when appointing members to the U.S. House of Representatives. Colorblindness seeks a similar compromise at the expense of persons of color for the sake of sanctifying and solidifying the social advantages of ‘white’ people, that is of ‘sameness’. It is this type of impaired vision that allows them to see level playing fields where despair and disparities exist. For these people, ‘colored’ people are out of sight and out of their minds when it comes to social relations of power. They do not realize that it is not necessary to see ‘color‘ in order to be ‘white‘!

nprwhitenessproject

Is Everyone a Little Bit Racist?
When Whites Just Don’t Get It
When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 2
When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 3
When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 4
When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 5

The Race Card Project by Michele Norris

 The Gangsters of Ferguson

Demographic Change Amplifying Racial Inequities

Baltimore 68: Riots and Rebirth
April 4, 2008 Barbara Samuels, ACLU of Maryland

The Deep, Troubling Roots of Baltimore’s Decline
If we want to save Charm City, we must begin by reversing 100 years of segregation.

Rich Benjamin’s : Searching for Whitopia

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 Click here for multilingual versions of JFK 1963 Address to the Nation.

ProPublica: pardons in past decade shows process heavily favored whites

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness”

Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Law

Investigation of the Ferguson Police Department

DOJ


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Curriculum Vitae

Tom L. States PhD Candidate

Fields of Interest: Political Theory, International Relations, Marxist Political Economy

Research Topic: eRacism - Conflicts of Difference

Education History: Williams College, BA Political Science; New York University, MA Politics; York University PhD Candidate

Languages: English, German

Hometown: Greenwood, Mississippi

Words of Wisdom: “IT” is what you are when you are young. Your youth mistakes certainty of the few things that you think you know for knowledge of things that it takes a life time to understand. With time and a few life experiences “IT” becomes the thing you pursue to give your life meaning. Somewhere along the way of having or getting “IT” you ask yourself, ‘Is this “IT”? Panic sets in when you realize that “IT” is your life. Fear and insecurity is that feeling you get when “IT” has not been worth a life time.

Bookshelf

Harvey, David. Justice, Nature, and the Geography of Difference. New York: Longman, 1996.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin White Masks. Trans. Charles Lam Markmann. New York: Grove Press. 1967.

Cancian, Francesca M. Gender Politics: Love and Power in the Private and Public Spheres. Gender and the Life Course. Ed. Alice S. Rossi. New York: Aldine, 1985.

Sand, Shlomo. The Invention of the Jewish People. New York: Verso, 2009.

Lay, Shawn. The Invisible Empire In The West: Toward a New Historical Appraisal of the Ku Klux Klan of the 1920's. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2004.

Journal

Carothers, Thomas. Think Again: Civil Society. Foreign Policy Date, (Winter: 1999-2000).

Ober, Josiah. The original meaning of "democracy": Capacity to do things, not majority rule. Princeton/Stanford Working Papers in Classics. American Political Science Association meetings, Philadelphia, (2006).