Color-Blindness is Poll Taxes, Literacy Tests, and Grandfather Clauses (A Quick Thought)

poll tax

Article 12, Mississippi State Constitution (1890):

Sec. 243. A uniform poll tax of two dollars, to be used in aid of the common schools, and for no other purpose, is hereby imposed on every male inhabitant of this State between the ages of twenty-one and sixty years, except persons who are deaf and dumb or blind, or who are maimed by loss of hand or foot; said tax to be a lien only upon taxable property. The board of supervisors of any county may, for the purpose of aiding the common schools in that county, increase the poll tax in said county, but in no case shall the entire poll tax exceed in any one year three dollars on each poll. No criminal proceedings shall be allowed to enforce the collection of the poll tax.

Sec. 244. On and after the first day of January, A. D., 1892, every elector shall, in addition to the foregoing qualifications, be able to read any section of the constitution of this State; or he shall be able to understand the same when read to him, or give a reasonable interpretation thereof. A new registration shall be made before the next ensuing election after January the first, A.D., 1892.

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What Is & Isn’t Being Said: 6. “Color-Blind Racism”

More frames adjusted

Having shown in the last post that color-blindness is not in fact a Biblical ethic, we now move on to the concept of “color-blind racism.”

If one is willing and able to believe the research outlining the great racial disparities in American society today—in terms of wealth, home ownership, employment, education, health, criminalization, incarceration, etc.—as well as the persistent de facto neighborhood and church segregation, one is compelled to seek an explanation. In broad terms, Americans are either inclined to interpret this data as the modern manifestation and continuation of 450 years of slavery and oppression leading to racism, discrimination, and attempted dehumanization of the “black race” at the hands of the white, or they are inclined to look for explanations in the very nature and behavior of the victims themselves. Those who find the former explanation persuasive are likely committed to the essential and fundamental equality of the races; any explanation that regards or implies the superiority or inferiority of any racial group is in fact a false, racist, mythology.

On the other hand, those who would adopt the latter explanation, that black Americans are themselves either wholly or largely responsible for their own plight, have proven the majority throughout American history, even in the midst of antebellum slavery and Jim Crow. Continue reading

What Is & Isn’t Being Said: 5. “Color-Blind Theology”


[I found it necessary later to offer one clarification to what follows. Though mentioned below, I want to make it abundantly clear that I do not think that the Jew/Gentile relation is one-to-one comparable to modern Western racial relations, but am only here responding in-kind to those who would press color-blindness via the passages discussed. Please see “What Does “Jew & Gentile” Have to do With “Black & White”? : A Clarification.]

Among the greatest barriers to acknowledging—or even recognizing—the extent of racialization in American society, and the extent of white privilege in particular, is the post-Civil Rights ethic of “color-blindness.”

Not only does the color-blind ethic obscure the history and currency of the centuries-forged “color line” in America, it also allows for only historically unhinged explanations of current disparities, lending to the continued maintenance of the status quo, cemented through 450 years of both overt racism and racialized institution building. In fact, it renders racial and ethnic disparities nearly un-stateable, collapsing all problems into individual events among individual bad actors with “perfectly reasonable” individual explanations—usually some deficiency among minorities themselves.

While I intend to explore the interpretive patterns and social ramifications of color-blind racism in the next post, I would like here to first address the so called “color-blind theology” which is thought to furnish a Biblical justification for a color-blind ethic within the Church itself. Just as the majority of Americans today believe color-blindness to be the highest expression of anti-racism, so also many theologians seem to believe it is the God ordained basis for unity within the Church as well as the Gospel cure to any prejudice or disparity within the Body.

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