Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Colorblind Society Called Hard to See

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Colorblind Society Called Hard to See

Article excerpt

HAS THE ongoing debate about race -- one side claiming that the root of all of America's racial problems is discrimination, the other side insisting that prejudice, for all practical purposes, has disappeared -- painted a complete picture of reality?

Ellis Cose says it hasn't.

"Too often America's racial debate is sidetracked by a search for racial scapegoats," he said. "And more often than not, those scapegoats end up being the people on the other side of the debate. `It's your fault because you're a racist.' `No, it's your fault because you expect something for nothing.' " He continued: "Certainly loudmouths will always be among us and will continue to say obnoxious and foolish things, but it would be wonderful if more opinion leaders who engage in what passes for public discourse would recognize an obvious reality: It hardly matters who is responsible for things being screwed up; the only relevant question is, `How do we make them better?' " While some continue to dream of a "colorblind" America, Cose is not optimistic. "I think the achievement of colorblindness is probably an impossibility," he said in an interview. What Cose does advance, however, is the case for a race-neutral society. In his new book, "Color-Blind: Seeing Beyond Race in a Race-Obsessed World," Cose argues the need for such a society. In that world, race no longer would be a deciding factor in so many aspects of our lives - from housing to education, from whom we choose to socialize with to where we choose to worship. He concedes that such a day is not just over the horizon. "I'm an optimist by nature, but I'm not a Pollyanna," he told me. "Race neutrality is something that I don't expect to see in my lifetime. But it's a goal that I think is worth striving for. Just as we know that there will always be murders, yet we always want to strive for a society in which there are no murders." Cose is a contributing editor for Newsweek magazine and former chairman of the editorial board and editorial page editor of the New York Daily News. He addresses the growing movement of Americans of mixed-race descent who refuse to consider themselves members of any currently accepted racial category but refer to themselves as multiracial and demand the recognition of a new, mixed race. …

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