My parents are Indian immigrants and, like all immigrants, their lives were governed by hard work. They worked hard to get to the United States, and continue to work hard to fulfill the American Dream. Despite my birth and upbringing in the United States, my parents instilled in me a sense of pride for my culture.
It was tough at times, growing up as a minority in states like Minnesota and Illinois. If my parents had never had a conversation with me about racism, perhaps I would have grown up believing that I could never succeed as a brown person in a white-dominated country like America—like Louisiana’s governor Bobby Jindal, who refuses to “see race” probably for this very reason.
“I am explicitly saying that it is completely reasonable for nations to discriminate,” said Jindal, according to Politico, “between allowing people into their country who want to embrace their culture, or allowing people into their country who want to destroy their culture, or establish a separate culture within.”
To further his stance, he recently tweeted: “Immigration without assimilation is not immigration, it is invasion.”
Read that. Then read it again. Bobby Jindal thinks you are not allowed in this country unless you assimilate, which means to shed all cultural roots and become one with the melting pot that is “America.” He thinks that if you don’t subscribe to this ideology, you’re an invader.
The concepts of “not seeing race,” or colorblindness, and “assimilation” are actually detrimental to people of color all over the United States. Jindal’s preoccupation with colorblindness means that he believes that people should treat every person, regardless of race, the same. While it’s a good concept from afar, there are gaping holes in this argument. Adhering to colorblindness invalidates the struggle of a person of color in a white-centric country. According to a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “job applicants with white names needed to send about 10 resumes to get one callback; those with African-American names needed to send around 15 resumes to get one callback.” The data reveals that, based on names alone, people of color are discriminated against. Sociology professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva at Duke University says in his book, White Supremacy and Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era, that colorblindness is the common manifestation of the “new racism,” according to tolerance.org.
One might believe that it is impossible for a person of color like Jindal to be racist himself, but racism can reveal itself in many different ways. Many of Jindal’s policies, for instance, are detrimental to middle-to-lower class people and people of color.
Consider Jindal’s recent ruling to cut off Medicaid funding in Louisiana to Planned Parenthood, because of his anti-choice stance on abortion. Let me put this into perspective. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), Louisiana is the state with the fourth highest number of STDs. The schools in the state are allowed to gloss over sexual education in high school, according to sexetc.org. The state is also anti-contraceptive education and abstinence-only; therefore, it needs Planned Parenthood.
Yet, Jindal cut off funding because he does not believe in abortions. The kicker to this story: Planned Parenthood does not even provide abortions in Louisiana.
Jindal is taking away free gynecological health services from healthcare owners. Healthcare is difficult enough to obtain to begin with, and on top of that, these health services are almost impossible to get unless you’ve got money. Those who have money can afford health services that are not free. But what about those who can’t?
Jindal’s preoccupation with colorblindness plays a role here—he believes that everyone, regardless of race and social standing, has the same opportunities, when they decidedly do not. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Louisiana has a 34% poverty rate for Black people and a 39% poverty rate for people of Hispanic origin. Compare this to the 25.8% national poverty rate for Black people and approximately 22% national poverty rate for people of Hispanic origin. Considering that the people who will value the free health services Planned Parenthood provides are people of color with a higher poverty rate, those who will suffer are the people of color.
Many people view racism as “white,” but Bobby Jindal’s colorblindness proves that people of color can be just as complicit in spreading and reinforcing Western supremacy as white people.