Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, a sociology professor at Duke University, spoke before students in a guest lecture at Dartmouth College on Thursday, discussing how white people often disguise their racism with ‘color-blindness’ and express their prejudice more covertly. Though many white people claim they are are no longer racist, African-Americans today face the same prejudice they did in the 1960s, Bonilla-Silva said.
“We are not post-racial,” the Duke professor said, according to The Dartmouth. “This ideology is suave but deadly.”
A new kind of racism has emerged, he said, one that is often shrouded in white people’s attempts to shrug off racist claims. Bonilla-Silva cited the election of President Barack Obama, the first African-American president, as an example and said many use his election as a way to prove America has moved well past the days of Jim Crow.
But society has found itself in an era of color-blind racism, he said, dismissing white people’s claims of progress as “sincere fictions,” according to The Dartmouth. Instead, African-Americans find themselves facing more economic challenges than whites and receive inferior education in “so-called integrated” institutions, Bonilla-Silva continued.
“We must fight white supremacy,” he said. “The only way to remove racism in America is to remove systemic racism.”
In addition to referencing President Obama’s election, Bonilla-Silva also called out white people for using specific rhetoric that proves their disguised racism. He noted some will say “some of my best friends are black,” which, according to The Dartmouth, “blames discrimination on the victim and the incomprehensible response to the topic of race.” He continued, noting many white Americans will say they did not personally own slaves or were in attendance at Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington as a way to deny their “personal prejudice.”
“Story lines are socially shared tales that are fable-like and incorporate a common schemata and wording,” Bonilla-Silva said.
But racism is especially apparent at an Ivy League like Dartmouth, he said, where the college is among “historically white colleges and universities.” To combat this, white people need to eliminate this “new racism” and admit they have denied such color-blind racism, he said.
The lecture, titled “The Color of Color-Blindness: Whites’ Race Talk in ‘Post-Racial’ America,” was sponsored by the African and African-American Studies Program, and the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies Program.
According to Duke’s website, Bonilla-Silva has studied race for more than 20 years and he published two books this year, titled “Racism Without Racists” and “The End of Racism? Colorblind-Racism and Popular Media in Post-Civil Rights America.”