Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 1999

OCLC FAST subject heading

Civil rights


Racism is understood by most White people to be an attitude of prejudice toward Blacks. In contrast, Blacks define racism more inclusively; it is a system of institutional preferences for Whites, resulting from historically ingrained prejudices Whites have against Blacks. People of goodwill are disinclined to attribute racial connotations to ordinary, everyday negative interactions involving Whites and people of color as long as the Whites are people of goodwill (people who do not think they have prejudiced attitudes). Second, goodwill comfort is important to maintain, causing many Whites to shy away from any discussions about race. People of goodwill have felt this cognitive dissonance since the 1960s when both color consciousness and color-blindness were the ambiguous orders of the day. In the last few years, many White liberals have joined with conservatives to explicitly abolish affirmative action. If people of goodwill can be convinced that adopting the color-blindness philosophy is in individual Blacks' self-interest, then they are likely to support abolishing affirmative action because they believe in racial equality. Thus, color-blindness is seemingly a perfect solution to the paradox. It is only imperfect because it is premised on one big myth: The existence of racial equality. White society posits that racial equality is extant throughout America. Whites of goodwill do not feel any dissonance between their support for racial equality and their opposition to affirmative action because, from their view, racial equality has become the norm and affirmative action jeopardizes it.