Ferguson: Changing How We Think About Race

In the last several months there has been a large amount of debate and anger involving Ferguson. Following the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, there has been even more anger as can be seen in the riots and protests that have resulted from the court’s decision. While Michael Brown’s death is a terrible tragedy, it has brought new, and much needed, attention to the issues of racism that we tend to ignore but that are still a huge part of our culture and society.

Anthropologist Bianca Williams discusses racism and specifically the racism of colorblindness in her blog post on Savage Minds. She argues that while many feel the urge to “cling to colorblindness” it is undeniably a racist form of thinking. She continues to say that race or color is a central part of identity, and it shouldn’t be necessary to ignore something that is so important to identity.

While Williams is correct in that it shouldn’t be necessary, the fact remains that many people do still cling to this form of thinking. It is sad to think that racism is still such a major issue today. But before we can stop more violence from occurring, we must first change the way we think about race and identity. Williams proposes that the best way to do this is to “speak when it is required, and to deeply listen when it is not.” I think this is a good place to start, but it makes me wonder if it can be that simple.

Concept formation seems like a complicated and time-consuming process. How easy or difficult will it prove to be to try to change the way people think about something so seemingly basic as race? Clearly there is a problem with the current way of thinking since Ferguson and countless incidents like it continue to happen everyday. However, I don’t believe violence and riots will do much to change something so complicated and deep-rooted. I think it will take time, passion, and dedication to speaking out to successfully affect how we think about race and decrease the violence that stems from this harmful way of thinking.