How can racial inequality coexist with the prevailing narrative of “colorblindness”?
Many have made the largely convincing case that “colorblindness” is the dominant racial ideology of the post-Civil Rights era in the United States. Whites tend to hold the opinion that “race does not matter that much today, so let’s move on.” According to this logic, everybody, should be colorblind and is already for the most part, and race should not be the basis of efforts to lessen racial inequalities. This perception of the state of racism writ large in the U.S. is ostensibly corroborated by the general declivity in anti-Black attitudes among whites over the past half-century.
In my estimation, “colorblindness” prevails as our national narrative because it operates at relatively shallow depths.
Yet the social position of Blacks relative to whites has not improved evenly or greatly, and in some respects has worsened over the past several decades. Literally from birth to death, Blacks continue to face vast inequalities. At birth, in 2007, Blacks could expect to live 4.8 years fewer than whites; while the infant mortality rates for Black babies was more than double the rate for white babies in 2005.
Residential segregation of Blacks, far more extensive than for any other racial category, persists at high rates, if declining slowly over time, while school segregation after a brief period of decline, has rebounded to the levels of the late 1960s. Meanwhile, unemployment rate for Blacks has been intractably around twice as high as that for whites regardless of the state of economy and the Black median household wealth is preposterously low—only 5% of the median wealth for white households as of 2010.