Thursday, June 16, 2011

Ian Haney Lopez on "reactionary colorblindness"

From Ian Haney Lopez, Blind spot: How reactionary colorblindness has infected our courts and our politics The American Prospect 03/29/2011:

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne knows racism when he sees it, and he isn’t afraid to publicly castigate the most recent agents of race hate. Horne is an outspoken opponent of racism in a state roiling with tensions about "illegal aliens" and "anchor babies." The bigotry Horne especially rebukes? Courses like "Latino literature." If Horne has his way, the Tucson public school system—serving a student body that's over half Mexican American and, like other districts, already suffering hard economic times - will lose $15 million in state funding this year unless it terminates its Mexican American Studies program. According to Horne, classes in the program spread "one-sided propaganda" and "brainwash" impressionable young minds by teaching un-American calumnies — that there's prejudice against Mexican Americans in Arizona, for instance.

Horne's effort to whip up public hysteria about the place of Hispanics in our society owes its success to the right-wing co-optation of colorblindness. This story began in law but now defines our politics. Conservatives such as Horne and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts have managed to take the moral high ground away from liberals on race. Using a reactionary form of the old colorblind ideal of a society free from racial oppression, they have declared that our society must no longer see race at all — especially not in continued patterns of mistreatment and definitely not as a basis for remedial efforts. Reactionary colorblindness justifies ignoring continued inequality and attacking affirmative action. In addition, reactionary colorblindness has become a favored tool among racial demagogues in American politics. [my emphasis]
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