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Laypeople, educators, professionals, and institutions are regu-larly faced with difficult questions about how to handle issues of race in contemporary society. Concerns about being labeled racist leave many people unsure as to whether it is appropriate to notice skin color or mention race in everyday interactions (Apfelbaum, Sommers, & Norton, 2008). Questions also emerge as to what role, if any, race should have in the develop-ment of school curricula, college-admissions criteria, promo-tion guidelines, public policy, and legal adjudication (Plaut, 2010). In this article, we examine recent evidence from a range of domains that highlights one increasingly prevalent approach to the issue of race: color blindness. Color blindness is rooted in the belief that racial group membership and race-based differences should not be taken into account when decisions are made, impressions are formed, and behaviors are enacted. The logic underlying the belief that color blindness can prevent prejudice and discrimination is straightforward: If people or institutions do not even notice race, then they cannot act in a racially biased manner. This notion that color blindness has the capacity to “short-circuit” the typical processes by which bias emerges was epitomized by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts ’ opinion in a 2007 case involving a local school district’s efforts to achieve diversity: “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race ” (Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District, 2007). Despite the pervasiveness of this color-blind approach to race relations, new evidence from psychological research has called its supposed benefits into question. We document the practice and implications of color blindness in a wide range of contexts: interpersonal, educational, organizational, legal, and societal. In each domain, despite the ubiquity of the color-blind approach, there is mixed evidence as to its effectiveness in accomplishing intended goals. We conclude with a discus-sion of multiculturalism, a perspective that is often proposed as an alternative to color blindness but is not without its own limitations

Year: 2016
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