- Dr. Colorblind (1997-) — Medical Doctor
No, this is not a real person. But the popular doctor might as well be when we examine the doctor’s impact on race relations. President Bill Clinton’s pledge to lead “the American people in a great and unprecedented conversation on race” led to an epidemic of reaction in 1997. Out of the smoke marched Dr. Colorblind and his cadre of outspoken Republican nurses, all pledging to heal race relations by not treating the disease. “Racism will not disappear by focusing on race,” House speaker Newt Gingrich argued in 1997.
What was the outcome of Dr. Colorblind’s do-nothing remedy? Racism spread, and it is still taking unarmed Black lives. And Dr. Colorblind is going by a new name these days: Post Racial.
- John Marshall Harlan (1833-1911) — Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
Justice Harlan is best known for his courageous role as the lone dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 Supreme Court ruling that upheld southern segregation statues. “The Great Dissenter,” as Harlan came to be known, actually first employed the term color-blind in his dissenting opinion in Plessy. “Our Constitution is color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens,” Harlan famously wrote. But few Americans know what Harlan stated before this. “The white race deems itself to be the dominant race in this country. And so it is,” he wrote. “I doubt not, it will continue to be for all time, if it remains true to its great heritage and holds fast to the principles of constitutional liberty.”
Constitutional liberty as the great heritage of White people? Justice Harlan never dissented on this racist idea.