Michael N. Searles

A COLOR BLIND SOCIETY
 

 

When the words color and blind are linked, we are presented with two different defi- nitions. Color blindness (color vision deficiency or CVD) is the decreased ability to see color or differences in color that can impair tasks such as selecting ripe fruit, choosing clothing, and reading traffic lights. A colorblind society is one in which racial classification does not affect a person’s socially created opportunities. Such a society would be free from differential legal or social treatment based on race or color. A color-blind society would have race-neutral governmental policies and would reject racial discrimination in any form. In this article, the focus will be the social defi- nition of a color-blind society. Among issues that affect our country and the world, there is none more intriguing and problematic than creating a country that equally embraces all the people who live within its borders. Among the nations that exhibit the greatest racial tolerance, the Netherlands heads the list. The Kingdom of the Netherlands emerged in 1815 after years of Spanish and later French occupation. In 2010, a collection of island territories in the Caribbean known as the Dutch Antilles were disbanded, but Aruba, Curacao and Saint Maarten remain constituent countries within the Kingdom. The Netherlands have formed what has long been considered a tolerant society, though some politicians are increasingly voicing concerns over immigration. In 2001, it became the first to legalize same-sex marriage, and developed a liberal national stance on drugs, prostitution, euthanasia and abortion. When the topic of a color-blind society becomes a topic of discussion, the element of race takes center stage. In 1942, Ashley Montagu, the world-renowned anthropologist published Man’s Most Dangerous Myth: The Fallacy of Race that is still in publication. His arguments still contribute essential and salient perspectives on the issue of race today. In addressing this issue, Dr. Robert Bartholomew wrote for Psychology Today the following: “There is an urgent need to address the continuing misuse of the word race and replace it with ‘ethnic group.’ ‘Race’ is a myth; a relic of the past; a scientifically inaccurate term that has brought misery and heartache to countless millions. While it has been used to reinforce popular stereotypes, the problem is, race is a social reality because so many people believe that it exists and they act accordingly. Past attempts to understand human behavior through the lens of race has led to widespread discrimination and exploitation. While each of us has a unique genetic heritage, we are all part of a single species: Homo sapiens, who share a common ancestry. Humans have been around for over 300,000 years – not long enough to develop into a separate species. We have evolved differences through mutations as we adapted to different environments. Regardless of our superficial outer trappings, humans are far more alike than different. Our DNA is 99.9 percent identical. While we share a significant of amount of DNA, the idea of a society not recognizing differences is impractical, unrealistic, and unenlightened. I do not think we can live in a world where racial differences are ignored or unrecognized. This is particularly true in a world where many people self-identify by race.

There are as many as 60,000 types of trees on the earth, yet no tree universally is hated. There are myriad ways trees improve our lives. They improve water quality; minimize the disastrous effects of carbon dioxide emissions; improve air quality; enhance soil health; create a cool environment; provide timber, fiber, fuel, and food products; help biodiversity flourish; serve the medical sector; and provide fresh air from city life. Trees also hold immense cultural and spiritual value. We face a monumental challenge and the eternal question. Can we recognize and acknowledge differences and not subscribe people of different colors, religions, and ethnicities into a lower caste? Can we love each other as brothers and sisters, enjoy, and appreciate each other’s value? Dr. King once said we must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools. A simple idea but a powerful and essential one.

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