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Jul 17

The Four Frames of Color-Blindness

Bonilla-Silva, E. (2006). Color-blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States (2nd Ed.). (Ch. 3: The style of color blindness: How to talk nasty about minorities without sounding racist, pp. 53-74)

Abstract Liberalism:
involves using ideas associated with political liberalism and economic liberalism in an abstract manner to explain racial matters.

“equal opportunity is part of abstract liberalism — or — regarding each person as an individual with choices — and using the liberal principles for whites having the right of choosing to live in segregated neighborhoods or sending their children to segregated schools. this claim requires ignoring the multiple institutional and state-sponsored practices behind segregation, and being unconcerned about these practices’ negative consequences” (p. 28).

Naturalization:
allows whites to explain away racial phenomena by suggesting they are natural occurrences.

“Naturalization is a frame that allows whites to explain away racial phenomena by suggesting they are natural occurrences for example – whites can claim “segregation” is natural because people from all backgrounds gravitate toward likeness. Although, the above statements can be interpreted as “racist” and as contradicting the colorblind logic — they are used to reinforce the myth of nonracialism. How? by suggesting these preferences are almost biologically driven and typical of all groups in society, preferences for primary associations with members of ones race are rationalized as nonracial because “they (racial minorities) do it too” (p. 28).

Cultural Racism:
relies on culturally based arguments to explain the standing of minorities in society.

“Cultural racism is a frame that relies on culturally based arguments” (p. 28)

Minimization of Racism:
suggests discrimination is no longer a central factor affecting minorities’ life choices.

“Minimization of racism is a frame that suggests discrimination is no longer a central factor affecting minorities’ life chances (“its better now than in the past” or “There is discrimination, but there are plenty of jobs out there.” this frame allows whites to accept facts such as the racially motivated murder of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper TX” (p. 29).