Many of its critics equate colorblindness with the deliberately obtuse claim that one is literally unable to see race. It is true that some conservatives have invoked colorblindness as an excuse for ignoring evident racial discrimination and injustice. But rightly understood, colorblindness does not mean tolerating the way in which race has shaped reality. It is entirely consistent with believing that racial minorities have a right to be heard if they experience racism, and that academics should study the causes and extent of racial disparities.
Rather than prescribing how to understand the world, the ideal of colorblindness tells us how we should act: we should not treat people differently on the basis of the color of their skin (except, perhaps, under specified, exceptional circumstances).
Refusing to ascribe importance to something morally neutral is a virtue. And because colorblindness is a refusal to discriminate against others on the basis of their skin color, it remains the best remedy for old-fashioned racism that we have.
The choice is one of common humanity vs. tribalism. And I’m going to side with Martin Luther King, Jr.