MRECZKO: Color-blindness can achieve equality

Michael Mreczko

We have come a long way since the Civil Rights Movement. But as the recent events on this campus have shown, we still have a long way to go. While we may not have the outward demonstrations and blatant segregation of the ’60s, racism is still a huge underlying problem today in American society.

Why, 40 years later, is racism an issue? Because race itself is still an issue. As long as color is a factor in any way, we will always have race on our consciousness. And as long as race is on our minds, the portion of the population with intolerant attitudes will also remain and leave an ugly mark on our walls and our community.

I’m not wise enough to suggest how to cure the minds of millions of people. Whatever measures are taken would require years, decades, to take serious effect. However, we have to start somewhere. Given what has taken place recently, why not start right here on campus to make an example of what can be done in the bigger scheme of things.

Affirmative action admissions have left many with the notion that certain students “are only here because they’re black.” Thoughts like this are the precursors for indignation and worse racial thoughts. Checking a box that indicates your race may have helped further equality back when it was instituted, but today it proves to be counter-productive. Varying standards for different races in order to meet diversity quotas don’t help us bridge the racial divide – they only turn minorities into a number. True equality will only be achieved if the process is colorblind.

That’s the idealistic part. Here’s where we get practical. It takes more than just removing the checkboxes from an application because we can still be fairly certain Jamaal Anderson doesn’t have a long Italian lineage. The application should be divided up so that information pertaining to demographics should be separated from information that will actually determine whether the student is admitted, such as GPA and class rank (with the high school information included only on the demographics page). Admissions officers would split so that the person evaluating the students would only receive the second sheet containing the pertinent information and be totally shielded from any sort of bias unrelated to what matters when selecting a student. This process selects students who are the best qualified applicants and eliminates any thoughts come late August that someone got in because of the color of their skin. A similar process could be applied to minimize racial “preference” in hiring practices as well, but let’s start with baby steps. I’m not about to say we can change everything overnight, but we can plant seeds.

It can’t go without saying that minorities need to do their part in bridging the racial gap, too. Black pride is all well and good until you start calling someone with white pride a racist. If we started a National Association for the Advancement of White People, Reverend Al would get laryngitis speaking against it so much. This double standard is just as much a reason why racism is around as anything else. It’s hypocritical to call more minorities getting into college “affirmative action” but more minorities thrown in jail “racial profiling.” If minorities don’t want whites to see them as different, they also need to stop calling attention to color, as much as they may have in who they are.

If you are looking for ways to eliminate racism, the best way to start is to eliminate race. As long as we even think about whether someone is black, white, yellow, brown or purple, there will be those who hold ugly thoughts and we will still find ugliness written on our walls.

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Michael Mrezcko is a junior communication major from Staten Island, N.Y. He can be reached at [email protected]