39 pages 1 hour read

Nicole Chung

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 2018

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Socio-Historical Context: The Problem of Racial Color Blindness

Color blindness is a racial ideology defined as the belief that race and ethnicity should not influence how people are treated in society. Since the Civil Rights era, individuals and groups in the United States have used the term to describe the desired or ostensibly achieved state of freedom from racial prejudice, or to ban policies and laws that explicitly take race into consideration, such as race-based affirmative action. Proponents of color blindness argue that policies that differentiate according to race can deepen racial divisions.

Nicole’s adoptive parents raised her without regard for her race, insisting, “Of course we don’t think of you as Asian” (31). As Nicole notes, her adoptive parents “wanted to ignore the fact that I was the product of people from the other side of the world, unknown foreigners turned Americans. To them, I was not the daughter of these immigrants at all: by adopting me, my parents had made me one of them” (31).

The colorblindness of Nicole’s parents, though well-meaning, was problematic for two reasons: First, it cut Nicole off from her heritage, and second, it was at odds with the treatment she received outside the home, in her predominantly white community. Nicole writes: “Caught between my family’s ‘colorblind’ ideal and the obvious notice of others, perhaps it isn’t surprising which made me feel safer—which I preferred and tried to adopt as my own” (32).