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Color Blind Racism

Topics: Racism / Pages: 5 (1004 words) / Published: Mar 25th, 2014
March 1, 2014

Soc 1033

“Color Blind Racism” (Bonilla-Silva)
Reading Response Bonilla-Silva looks to answer two questions in this literature: “How is it possible to have this tremendous level of racial inequality in a country where most people (white) claim that race is no longer a social relevant social factor and that “racists” are a species on the brink of extinction? More significantly, how do whites explain the contraindication between their professed color blindness and America’s color-coded inequality?” In “Color Blind Racism”, Bonilla-Silva challenges the idea that we live in a society that is nonracist or nondiscriminatory. He insists that regular white folks engage in unintentional discrimination every day because of the social construction of the ideology of race. Today’s racism may be somewhat different than racism during the Jim Crow era. Instead, there is a different type of racism that has materialized around the 1960s. Bonilla-Silva refers to this type of racism as the “New Racism”. Since its emergence, color blind racism has become structured into almost every institution and has become a part of everyday life. Because of this new racism that continues to be socially constructed, blacks and other minorities suffer from inferior jobs, education, and housing. Bonilla-Silva discusses four central frames of color blind racism: 1) Abstract Liberalism. According to Bonilla-Silva, abstract liberalism allows whites to reasonably support racial inequality. 2) Naturalization. Naturalization is a way that whites can perform everyday actions that may seem natural because it’s the way of life. 3) Biologization. Biologization gives the idea that biological characteristics are the reason blacks maintain an inferior status. 4) Minimization of Racism. This frame suggests that racism isn’t a big deal. These four central frames of color blind racism give a different excuse to maintain white privilege, different from the tactics used in the Jim Crow era to explain racial inequality. I think that the two questions that Bonilla Silva ask are quite interesting. After reading this literature, I got to thinking how is race today socially constructed? Sure, racism can be defined by personal experiences and that, I believe, is not the reason Bonilla-Silva thinks that we still live in a society where racial inequality exists. Instead, it’s the institutions itself that cause discrimination. Albeit, it’s nothing comparable to racism in the Jim Crow era, it still unintentionally happens.
After asking myself where I have seen racism built into an institution, I realized that I have experienced it myself in the institution of education. I went to an elementary school that had a large population of Hispanics who did not know English well. Having the last name ‘Gonzales’, I was constantly stereotyped into this population, even though I spoke perfect English and my race is half Native American and the other half Latino. I was being deprived of an unbiased education that the rest of the kids were getting. I believe that that it was unintentional and they just assumed that because my last name is thought to have a Hispanic origin, I didn’t know the English language. It was discrimination built into the institution.
Because there is discrimination built into various institutions, it seems normal. I realized that I had to think long and hard of an example for my own question. Because to most people, it’s part of everyday life, especially those in the same generation as me. It’s what we grew up knowing. Instead of hammering how racism is built into institutions, I was interested in ways that whites defend this “New Racism”. Bonilla-Silva refers to these as four central frames of color blind racism. The first is “Abstract Liberalism”. This idea is that we live in a society that has equal opportunities for all people. I concur with this idea that whites use, but I also believe they fail to view external issues regarding this idea. Not everyone is born on equal grounds. Some may be more privileged than others. Historical events could have possibly had implications on why blacks are at more of a disadvantage. If they begin at a disadvantage, they receive an inferior education. As a result, they are underrepresented in higher education and in higher paying jobs. It seems to me that this vicious cycle only repeats itself a majority of the time. Next is “Naturalization”. This is the idea that discrimination just seems natural. The reason that whites typically hold better jobs is natural. I find this to be a lame excuse. One student explained that people segregate themselves because that’s who they feel comfortable around. I think it’s because of the lack of opportunities. For example: a manager at a company, who happens to be white, hires a co-worker from his previous job. This co-worker happens to be white as well. This manager wants to hire another employee so he asks his new hire if he knows anyone who is interested. He calls up his friend, who is white as well, if he would like a job. He agrees and the cycle continues. Although unintentional, this leaves out other races who are “segregated” with their own people. Third is “Biologization”. This idea, as I found, is where we get a majority of our stereotypes. Although I find negative stereotypes to be false a majority of the time, the can have a negative impact on job, school, and housing of minorities. I couldn’t decide if I agreed or disagreed with this idea because it was very subjective on who believed what stereotypes. Finally, “Minimization of Racism”. This idea is that discrimination no longer exists and it does not hinder minorities on job placement, education, housing, etc. I had to disagree because it actually does. In my experience, unintentional discrimination effected my education and I was only a kid so it can happen anywhere.
It was interesting to read about this “New Racism” and sort of opened my eyes on how discrimination is built into institutions unintentionally. A question for class discussion would be:
Give an example where racism/discrimination is built into an institution?

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