Where Did Our Colorblind Society Get Derailed?

Tim Goral's picture

Our nation once took on a noble cause. We would be a colorblind society. We would be a nation that would not select people either for good or ill based only on their race or ethnicity.

Where did we go wrong?

Recently a publication listed the items that the College Board says get the most emphasis when colleges look at potential students. The first item was the courses the students took in high school and then recommendations. What do you think the next item was? Grades? GPA? Rank in class? Special talents and skills?


The next item was ethnicity. Why should a college care about your skin color, or who your grandmother was, or your genital configuration or with whom you prefer to have sex?

It is not just colleges that seem to be going in the opposite direction. It is almost impossible to take a governmental survey that doesn’t ask for your race and ethnicity.

In a colorblind free society, it is none of their business.

So what went wrong with the dream?

There could be a number of reasons why we are reverting back to a society obsessed with race and gender, but three stand out.

First, as Rafael Figueroa, a dean of college guidance put it in a recent edition of the Chronicles of Higher Education, "(affirmative action) … is a matter of race and ethnicity — not economics. Programs aimed at increasing socioeconomic diversity, while beneficial, are not a proxy for achieving racial integration. Affirmative action is not about compensation for any group; it’s about integration of all groups. It’s not about the past; it’s about the present."

This quote inadvertently makes two points. The advocates of diversity and affirmative action have a difficult time explaining their rationale, and many sincerely believe that racial and ethnic discrimination is necessary to achieve a type of "integration" that evidently would be lacking even in a true colorblind society.

It would seem reasonable to address the cause rather than the effect, but reason and racism are seldom found concurrently.

Second, as Newton observed, any object put into motion tends to stay in motion. The current discriminate momentum is probably strongest for something called "diversity." Diversity has become a sacred tenet on most college campuses. Like any official religion, it has its own articles of faith, rituals, devils and saints.

But there is an unanswered question in all this. As a law professor once asked, "Diversity; for what purpose?"

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