Article | Current Directions in Psychological Science | June 2012

Racial Colorblindness: Emergence, Practice, and Implications

by Evan P. Apfelbaum, Michael I. Norton and Samuel R. Sommers


We examine the pervasive endorsement of racial colorblindness-the belief that racial group membership should not be taken into account or even noticed-as a strategy for managing diversity and intergroup relations. Despite research demonstrating that race is perceived automatically (and thus, the seeming improbability of actual colorblindness), the colorblind approach has become increasingly apparent in a variety of important domains, from education and business to law and societal discourse. An emerging research literature has revealed the many ways in which colorblindness shapes individual, group, and institutional efforts to handle issues of diversity. We offer an integrative assessment of this work, highlighting recent psychological investigations that explore the emergence, practice, and implications of colorblindness. We conclude by discussing alternative strategies for managing diversity, underscoring the importance of an approach that simultaneously accommodates the concerns of whites and minorities.

Keywords: Management; Strategy; Law; Practice; Race; Research; Social Issues; Diversity;


Apfelbaum, Evan P., Michael I. Norton, and Samuel R. Sommers. "Racial Colorblindness: Emergence, Practice, and Implications." Current Directions in Psychological Science 21, no. 3 (June 2012): 205–209.