Colour-blind ideology is a belief system that suggests that acknowledging or discussing racial differences is detrimental to achieving racial equality. Advocates of this ideology argue that ignoring race and treating everyone the same will lead to a more harmonious society and is the solution to racial issues. However, this approach often overlooks systemic racism and perpetuates disparities that exist based on race.

Flaws of Colour-Blind Ideology

  1. Denial of Racial Disparities: Colour-blind ideology often leads to the denial of racial disparities and systemic racism. By claiming that race does not matter and that everyone should be treated equally, it overlooks the historical and present realities of racial discrimination and inequality. This denial impedes progress toward addressing and eradicating racial disparities.
  2. Invisibility of Racism: The emphasis on colour-blindness tends to obscure the existence and impact of racism. By avoiding discussions about race, it becomes difficult to identify and challenge racial prejudice, bias, and discrimination that still persist in society. Racism is an entrenched problem that needs acknowledgment and active efforts to overcome it.
  3. Failure to Address Systemic Racism/Maintaining the Status Quo: The idea of treating everyone the same regardless of race can inadvertently preserve existing power structures and inequalities. By failing to recognise and address systemic racism, the status quo is maintained, preventing true progress toward racial equity. Colour-blind ideology oversimplifies the complex issue of racism and fails to address the deeply ingrained systemic racism that affects various aspects of society, including education, employment, and criminal justice. Ignoring these disparities perpetuates inequality.
  4. Undermining Remedial Measures/Equity: Colour-blind ideology can lead to resistance against affirmative action or other remedial measures designed to address historical injustices and level the playing field for marginalised groups. Advocates argue that such actions are discriminatory, contradicting the fundamental principles of colour-blindness.
  5. Invalidation of Racial Identity: Colour-blindness can invalidate individuals’ racial and ethnic identities by dismissing the significance of their experiences and unique cultural backgrounds. It overlooks the importance of acknowledging and appreciating diverse racial and ethnic identities.
  6. Avoiding Accountability: Colour-blind ideology can be used as a tool to evade accountability for addressing racial disparities and implementing necessary changes to combat racism. By refusing to recognise racial differences, institutions and individuals may escape responsibility for addressing deeply rooted racial issues.
  7. Justification for Racism: Colour-blind ideology can be used, consciously or unconsciously, to mask prejudice. Studies show that even well-intentioned individuals can hold unconscious racist and other prejudiced beliefs that influence their decisions and behaviours. The influence of unconscious biases is more likely when individuals can justify their responses on non-racist grounds. This is the power of the No slogan, “No to division”. It allows people to maintain a positive view of themselves as not racist but pro-equality. Most people think of themselves as fair or, because of social norms, want others to think of them as fair. “No to division” gives racist beliefs and attitudes (whether conscious or unconscious) a cover. So does “If you don’t know, vote no”. I would not be at all surprised if a social psychologist was on the No campaign marketing team.