We should fight for a color-blind society — not one separated by race

In his new book, “The Virtue of Color-Blindness,” Andre Archie, an associate professor of ancient Greek philosophy at Colorado State University, argues that “social justice” groups are dragging us back to segregation, and making race relations worse, not better. In this excerpt, he notes how the battle for civil rights in the US was one of unity, not exclusion:

The fight to insist that the language of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution — that all were created equal — includes all Americans, regardless of race, was difficult and bloody, but just and right.

In the 1850s, the Frederick Douglass wing of the abolitionist movement made the case for a color-blind reading of America’s founding documents — a position enshrined by the Civil War amendments and the Civil Rights movement.

Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and “I Have a Dream” speech are powerful indictments of segregation precisely because they appeal to the same Founding American documents and Western philosophical texts once used, wrongly, to promote racism.

But that centuries-long struggle for equal opportunity has been undermined in recent times by leftist ideologies that claim “color blindness” is racism. 

Anti-color-blind advocates like Ibram X. Kendi and Ta-Nehisi Coates promote Critical Race Theory (CRT), antiracism, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). They believe that the best way to navigate cultural differences in the United States is to openly discuss and highlight racial and ethnic differences. 

Highlighting differences of race, they argue, makes explicit the structural nature of white economic and social power, and how it is perpetuated at the expense of black Americans and other people of color.

The motivation behind this thinking is a type of alienation with roots in hatred of the familiar. 

The English philosopher Roger Scruton named this phenomenon, which is mostly seen in the West, as oikophobia. The term is a combination of two ancient Greek words, phobia (fear, aversion) and oikos (home, house). Those who suffer from oikophobia are unmoored from their native soil, home, community, and country. They feel sympathy for the foreign enemy and disdain their fellow citizens and their traditions. 

In this worldview, America is unredeemable, despite breakthroughs in race relations and changes in the law.

Due to the historical effort in getting America to live up to its color-blind principles, one would think that any attempt to divide Americans along racial and ethnic lines for the sake of fomenting racial grievances would face stiff resistance.

Unfortunately, this has not been the case. Instead, racial segregation has returned in full, ugly force.

“Diversity training” makes an emotional appeal to whites to encourage them to think sympathetically about the hard life experiences that communities of color face on a daily basis.

But the true intention in academic and corporate settings is not to offer a genuine understanding of the “lived experience.” It is designed to promote intimidation and psychological control over concerned, but racially passive, white Americans.

It requires that white Americans see their lives as actively working against people of color because of ordinary actions. For example, if a white person goes to college, gets a degree and a job, and then buys a home in an up-and-coming neighborhood, he is unwittingly contributing to “systemic racism.” 

When the focus is as allusive as systemic racism is, it is doubtful that the mandate of diversity experts will ever be achieved.

This lack of achievement is good for the experts because it keeps them employed, but bad for society because it stokes racial consciousness and, thus, resentment.

It has always surprised me that African Americans aren’t more confident, perhaps even a little arrogant, about their longevity in America. 

African Americans are some of the oldest Americans. They’ve had a cultural presence in America since its colonial period, albeit a compromised one.

If any group in America today has autochthonous origins, it’s African Americans. They truly are a biological and cultural product of the New World.

African Americans have a right to feel proud and patriotic, and any ideology that contradicts this right is destructive and runs contrary to the drive for upward mobility that has motivated the group historically. 

Being unhappy, feeling unfulfilled, undereducated, and feeling undeserving is not inevitable for African Americans.

Teaching our children that race is their most important attribute — even segregating some classes, as some schools have done — only instills a sense of hopelessness.

A better way begins with promoting healthy families, which are the backbone of healthy communities, which reduces alienation. 

The intact African-American family served as a bulwark for its family members. It was a boot-strapping enterprise, and a very good one!

The intact African American family that fought for integration, color-blindness, family values, and overall well-being for the country pointed the way forward for the country as a whole, and it continues to pay dividends to society today. 

Furthermore, racial harmony in the public square will lead to a more positive experience for everyone, and if we must speak about “social justice,” it should reflect the goal of interpersonal development coupled with better education through choice, healthy family experiences with one’s family, and a society that strives to practice fairness, equality, and color-blindness. 

Color-blind principles are based on a rich, historical struggle to rise above the natural but base human tendency to be selfish, parochial and tribal. Humans naturally sort themselves into groups by excluding and marginalizing others.

The perverse and obscene instances in history, such as American slavery and the Holocaust, show that such exclusiveness never leads to anything good. 

Anti-color-blind pedagogy caters to our base natural tendencies, and it does so in the same manner as all racial racialist ideologies.

The virtue of color blindness is at the heart of the American identity. We cannot remain a country without it.

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