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Color blind millennials...

PBS ran this opinion piece this week. I think it's pretty spot in terms of his analysis of white young adults and racism. (Don't read the comments unless you want to flag away!) I'm on the road, so I'll just highlight the key points because kinja hates my phone. :/

As children of the multi-cultural 1980s and 90s, Millennials are fluent in colorblindness and diversity, while remaining illiterate in the language of anti-racism. This may not be the end of the world, if weren't for the fact that Millennials don't know the difference between the two.

To be fair, that's not entirely their fault. They were taught by their elders, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, about how to think about race and racism. The lessons Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers gleaned from the Civil Rights era is that racism is matter of personal bigotry — racists hate people because of the color of their skin, or because they believe stereotypes about groups of people they've never met — not one of institutional discrimination and exploitation.

We have spent the post-Civil Rights era concerned with whether or not there is adequate representation for racial minority groups within our existing institutions, not questioning whether these institutions are fundamentally racist and rely on white supremacy for their very existence. Armed with this impotent analysis, Millennials perpetuate false equivalencies, such as affirmative action as a form of discrimination on par with with Jim Crow segregation. And they can do so while not believing themselves racist or supportive of racism.

It may be true that white Millennials are more tolerant of the existence of non-white people (though I wouldn't make a definitive statement on that either way), and even their viability as romantic partners, but this doesn't translate into a desire for racial justice. As products of an uninterrogated history, their tolerance doesn't mean they would like to see an end to white supremacy and institutionalized racism. Tolerance has no material impact on the livelihood of those suffering from discrimination and exploitation. Tolerance is not justice.


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