This course examines how color-blind solutions, representations, and interpretations have become the privileged responses to color-bound problems. Terms like merit, market, choice, and behavior hide racial power. Similarly, representations of people of color as criminal, deviant, and lazy shift our focus away from ongoing and new forms of racial injustice. At the same time, cultural representations, especially literature, film, and performance, have come to the forefront of national and global discussions about race and racial difference. Attempts at understanding the ‘racial other’ have long turned to literature and culture especially to promote multicultural harmony and tolerance. Yet the current emphasis on ‘colorblindness’ raises critical questions about how we examine literature and diversity today. Of course, denial and disavowal of racial power in our society protects privilege and serves a variety of political purposes, but in this course we will examine the ideal of colorblindness as a stance with embedded epistemological, political, and social causes and consequences.
Our goals in this course are to 1) trace the development and circulation of colorblindness in the U.S.; 2) critically examine how reading practices within the field of English enable or challenge colorblind perspectives; and 3) develop critical writing practices that make the investigation of racial power possible.