Absolute Equality and Colorblindness

Reading Niebuhr (the compilation edited by D.B. Robertson entitled Love and Justice) I’ve come across much that has "made sense" to me around the concepts of love and justice.  Of course I’m not sure how Niebuhrian I am as I don’t agree with his fundamental principles of original sin and love for Jesus dying on the Cross.  Anyways…in thinking about the idea of Colorblindness, the notion that we have no meritious or meaningful value or function based upon our racial/cultural/ethnic "color", has always been troublesome for me.  I find it connected to Niebuhr’s understanding of equality, which he asserts is the regulative principle of justice, yet is an unworthy social goal in absolute terms. 

The ideal of equality is a valuable and necessary standard to hold over social inequalities and power disparities of all kinds, from those in family relations to those in interntional relations.  Absolute equality is not a meaningful social goal.  This is true because there are certain inevitable inequalities associated with function in society and because actual social institutions or historical circumstances make the abstract ideal meaningless when itis used in an "all or nothing" sense.

Colorblindness does seem to fall into the "all or nothing" category when I’ve experienced the label used.  I think that there are degrees to which Colorblindess has an appropriate use, i.e. in the ways defined by our anti-discrimination laws, in fostering cross-cultural relations.  However absolute Colorblindess is not grounded in a realistic (so Niebuhrian!) understanding of societies history and practice around race and racism.


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