Colorado State University is three-quarters white. Due to this lack of diversity, it is vital that people grasp the importance of race.
Most of the classes I have taken, where a discussion about race took place, eventually lead to the similar conclusion that race should be ignored. The general consensus in the rooms was that a colorblind society is a better society –– one that neglects to recognize race. The idea is to ignore color. Jobs and higher education wouldn’t favor the white majority. Certain laws would disappear, like Stop and Frisk in New York or SB 1070 in Arizona. On the flip side, there wouldn’t be preferential treatment such as Affirmative Action. Hate crimes would be just crimes.
“Race matters because we still see color, we still see race. We can’t look at someone and say I don’t see race when I look at you, because we see it,” said Eileen Connell, Ph.D. in Sociology and adjunct instructor for the sociology department. “And, so, we judge people based on that race.”
I was raised in a Chinese-speaking home and didn’t learn English until I was six years-old. My accent is now barely recognizable. Generally, I eat my dinners with chopsticks and lunches with forks. Academics aren’t my forte.
Yet, the stereotype of an intelligent, heavy accented, chopstick using Asian haunts me. It’s the assumption people have when they first meet me, which quickly fades after a few minutes.
Those stereotypes are not me. But, the role race plays in my life has shaped me. It’s important to recognize race, but just as important to deny stereotypes associated with that race.
“If I say, ‘I don’t see you as an Asian,’ I’m denying that part of your cultural heritage, I’m denying the stereotypes that are applied to you, I’m denying the oppression that is put on you,” Dr. Connell said. “You’re denying that piece of somebody”.
Saying race is irrelevant, denies that the Chinese New Years and Moon Festivals I celebrate each year as a part of who I am. As if the countless times I watched Chinese television instead of American television are insignificant. As if my parents decision to raise me in a house intertwining American and Chinese culture doesn’t resonate in my personality.
Yes, a colorblind society is best –– a world where gender, race and income an isn’t held against you. It would be lovely to live equally without fear of discrimination, living in a country where low incomes and racial perceptions ceased to exist leading to improved impoverished areas with better forms of education to help minority groups.
“(But) that’s not the world we live in. It would be great, don’t get me wrong,” Dr. Connell said. “It would be great if we don’t have to look at sex, if we didn’t look at race, if we didn’t look at income levels. That’d be ideal. We don’t live there.”
The world we live in is not colorblind, but it could be someday. In order to for that to happen, it must begin on an individual level. Students need to recognize and discuss race. But, this is more easily said than done.
The lack of discussion stems from fear. Race has become a touchy subject, making it difficult for people to ask questions or to speak up. People don’t want to offend others. It’s not offensive to discuss race, it’s apart of who I am. However, it is offense to assume the stereotypes associated with races are apart of who I am.
Racial education is simple. There are multiple student organizations on campus tailored to specific ethnicities as well as a number of classes.
But, it’s even easier than that. It starts with talking. In this era of technology we are hesitant to communicate without the use of technology. Computers flood lecture halls, phones buzz in pockets around campus and tablets are attached at the hip. It’s time to put down our devices in favor of a face-to-face interaction.
Community Editor Lawrence Lam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.