Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Race and Gen Y: Are We Colorblind?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008
I'll probably come back and write something of my own later today, but I want to give this piece I read in today's B Paper, a free daily handed out every morning at downtown train stations and on street corners, some shine. It's part of a larger feature in which four young Black folk were asked to weigh in on race in the day and age of Obama.

This particular article was written by R. Darryl Foxworth -- or simply Rodney as I knew him in high school -- a freelance writer whose work has been featured in Baltimore Magazine, The City Paper, The Baltimore Sun and other local print media.

Hope you enjoy!


R. Darryl Foxworth, 24
Sales Representative, Laureate Education Inc.

“You’re a cool black guy, not some n*gga.”

I was enjoying the company of mostly young, white suburbanites when a young white gentleman described me as a cool black guy, as opposed to being the n-word. A sound of silence surrounded me. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I was only slightly shocked that the racial epithet had been used in polite company.

It was not the first time a derogatory term was directed toward me. The irony here was that this young man thought he was complimenting me — as if I should be enthused that some random white guy considered me articulate and, I suppose, well-mannered.

I had been prepared my entire life for this moment. His comment came as no surprise because he had merely met my expectations. Does this suggest that I expect every white male to launch into racist, demeaning diatribe? No. Nor am I surprised if and when they do — anti-black racism should come as no surprise to anyone.

Despite the fact that I have maintained primarily interracial friendships over the years, I continue to be skeptical of the majority of white people. This skepticism is fueled by the experiences of the generations preceding me, and my own day-to-day observations.

For me, the idea of a colorblind society — particularly a colorblind Generation Y — is implausible.
Certainly, Generation Y appears to be more culturally diverse and, to some extent, less segregated than prior generations. But colorblind?

Perhaps we are more tolerant and more willing to engage in interracial relationships — platonic and otherwise — but to suggest that we have overcome the barriers imposed by socially constructed race difference is plainly fantastical.

I acknowledge my own color-consciousness. How can I not notice that I am one of the few black faces in the room — often times the only black face? Several white peers have jokingly referred to me as their lone black friend. I imagine that a chorus of self-congratulatory cheers erupts.

If they are color-conscious in regards to me, they should note the racial balkanization of our classrooms or the overwhelming number of black men in prison. But sadly, they are not.

This form of colorblindness is nothing to applaud — in the end it amounts to ignorance, something we should never hope to achieve.


fuzzy said...

Ummm I would of taken that as more of a compliment than arrogancy. Just me...

I don't think we will ever be colorblind. In any generation. We are all different and everybody wants to be the best. So there will always be the put down and there will always be degrading! But again, that's just me!

Joey Bahamas said...

Hmmmmm I liked the article, but I felt it was a bit shallow...too anecdotal maybe? Maybe that's the spirit of the magazine...I think his point is clear though, and while we've made great strides there are still a few left to make. Luv!!!


yet another black guy said...

i often wonder why whites are in such a rush to use the N-word. colorblind indeed.

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