A ‘colorblind’ society upholds white supremacy

OPINION: New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft claimed to be colorblind, but just as the team’s first Black head coach, Jerod Mayo, pointed out, if you don’t see color, you can’t see racism.

colorblind, white supremacy, New England Patriots, theGrio.com
(L-R) Owner Robert Kraft and newly appointed head coach Jerod Mayo of the New England Patriots speak to the media during a press conference at Gillette Stadium on January 17, 2024 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Hello friends, non-friends and white people who claim they don’t see color. 

I want to give a special shoutout to the “colorblind” white people. Life must be so special for you. How do you even match your clothes on a daily basis? Is your colorblindness related to the racist bone that is not in your body? 

These questions need answers, but since we are already here, let’s talk about this idea that we should be a “colorblind” society in America.

You see, there are some white people who will tell you that bringing up race and color is the real issue. They say it’s divisive and only causes more problems. If only we would stop talking about race and color, all the bad things would go away, they say. 

That is a lie. The truth is that ignoring race and color means ignoring the injustices that go along with race and color in this country. Declaring yourself “colorblind” means you are also blinding yourself to the inequities and injustices suffered by Black people.

If we sit back and pretend not to see racism, how will it ever be eradicated?

I was reminded of this earlier this week when Jerod Mayo was named the first Black head coach of the New England Patriots in the team’s history.

During a press conference to announce Mayo’s appointment to the role, team owner Robert Kraft made mention of Mayo’s race, but was quick to declare that’s not why he chose him. He said he chose Mayo not because he is Black but because he is the best person for the job. 

And while it’s undoubtedly true that Mayo is the best person for the job, we cannot overlook the significance of him being Black. Mayo himself addressed that when it was his turn to speak. 

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“I do see color,” Mayo said, “because I believe if you don’t see color, you can’t see racism.”

He went on to say that race does matter when you are trying to fix the problem. 

The NFL has a race problem. Specifically, the NFL has a problem when it comes to Black head coaches, but I would extend that further and say the NFL has a racist problem when it comes to its Black members period. 

Let’s not forget that this is the same sports league that took issue with Black players kneeling during the national anthem as a form of protest against the extrajudicial killing of Black people at the hands of police. 

My friend and colleague Michael Harriot did a deep dive into the lack of Black coaches and the way Black coaches don’t get the same opportunities and chances that white coaches do. 

In “Black coaches are better: a statistical breakdown of the NFL’s racism,” Harriot wrote: 

By every statistical measure, Black coaches in the National Football League have outperformed white coaches. 

In 1989, when the Oakland Raiders made Art Shell the first Black head coach in the world’s most profitable, most popular but most undercompensated sport (NFL players share a lower percentage of profits than any other major professional sport), the NFL was already majority-Black. Since then, Black coaches have won at higher rates than white coaches. Black coaches are more experienced, more capable and produce better results. They are more likely than white coaches to lead their teams to the playoffs.

However, in the 102-year history of the National Football League, only 20 Black men have been allowed to coach an entire season. 

I encourage you to read the full article because my friend does an excellent job of breaking down just how egregious the lack of Black head coaches and head coaching opportunities in the league for Black coaches is when you compare the stats. 

The NFL released its 2023 Diversity and Inclusion Report in March 2023, and it revealed that between 2012 and 2023, 81% of those hired to be head coaches in the league were white (a total of 62 head coaches) compared to 19% of head coach hires being of color (a total of 15 head coaches, and of those 15 head coaches of color, as of March 2023, only five of them still had head coaching positions.) 

All of that is to say that the disparities are stark and real, and this is just looking at football

Imagine how these disparities look in other aspects of the real world. 

The bottom line is simple. If you insist on people not seeing color, then you are insisting that they uphold white supremacy as a means of maintaining the status quo. 

People who claim to not see color want to turn a blind eye to the ways that race and color play a role in even the simplest day-to-day living experiences of Black people. 

They want to exist in their little bubble that is cushioned and protected by whiteness because that’s safe for them. 

They aren’t thinking about the safety of everyone else. 

A colorblind society upholds white supremacy, plain and simple. 

Anyone who says anything different is lying to themselves and the rest of us, too. 

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She is a word nerd who is a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out at moniquejudge.com.

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