OPINION: Race, difference, and privilege


“It’s not about race.”

“I don’t see color.”

Donovan McDowell is a senior communication arts major. (Photo by Charley Garwood)

“I don’t see you as black.”

“People are just people.”

Most people think that the best way to end racism is to ignore it. For them, it’s simple: If they fail to acknowledge race, in doing so, they fail to be racist.

This “color blind” ideology feels as if it has flooded the ethos of our institution and even the way we view Christianity.

Even I, at times, have embraced this mentality. As the student director of multicultural services last year (2013-14), I started the year off with wonderful hopes and ambitions. My idea was that I would bring diverse people together to talk about their commonalities and, in turn, make the community of Malone more united.

But the deeper I got into multicultural services, I found that it became harder to find commonalities among my peers without being able first to openly talk about our differences.

As an African American male on a mostly white campus, my perspective is different than those around me. My history is different than my peers. The way I was raised is different. My political affiliation is different. Even down to the foundation of what it looks like to be a Christian is different than my peers.

I’ve felt like an outcast from events on campus. Even course content, at times, has felt alienating because it doesn’t speak to my experience in the world. But my experiences in the world being different than my white counterparts at Malone does not make those experiences any less real.

Racial colorblindness denies the reality of racial privilege.

“Whites have the privilege to assume that whiteness is the standard by which everything else should be compared . . . without being aware of their own whiteness.” (Mikhail Lyubansky, Between The Lines blog)

And while this ideology is not unique to Malone, I concern myself with what kind of outcome this might have on the communities that we go out into, post-graduation.

If we as a community continue to “blind” ourselves to the reality of privilege, these social imbalances will only worsen and Christianity will only be further distanced from the lives of the “others” in the world.

Donovan McDowell is a senior communication arts major.

Categories: Opinion

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