"Defining race only as a cultural symbols that are for sale allows whites to experience and view race as nothing more than a benign cultural marker that has been stripped of all forms of institutional, discriminatory or coercive power. The post-race, color-blind perspective allows whites to imagine that depictions of racial minorities working in high status jobs and consuming the same products, or at least appearing in commercials for products whites desire or consume, is the same as living in a society where color is no longer used to allocate resources or shape group outcomes. By constructing a picture of society where racial harmony is the norm, the color-blind perspective functions to make white privilege invisible while removing from public discussion the need to maintain any social programs that are race-based.
How then, is colorblindness linked to privilege? Starting with the deeply held belief that America is now a meritocracy, whites are able to imagine that the socio-economic success they enjoy relative to racial minorities is a function of individual hard work, determination, thrift, and investments in education. The color-blind perspective removes from personal thought and public discussion any taint or suggestion of white supremacy or white guilt while legitimating the existing social, political and economic arrangements which privilege whites. This perspective insinuates that class and culture, and not institutional racism, are responsible for social inequality. Colorblindness allows whites to define themselves as politically and racially tolerant as they proclaim their adherence to a belief system that does not see or judge individuals by the ‘color of their skin.’ This perspective ignores, as Ruth Frankenberg puts it, how whiteness is a ‘location of structural advantage societies structured in racial dominance.’
Colorblindness hides white privilege behind a mask of assumed meritocracy while rendering invisible the institutional arrangements that perpetuate racial inequality. The veneer of equality implied in colorblindness allows whites to present their place in the racialized social structure as one that was earned."
Charles A. Gallagher, “Color-Blind Privilege” (via wretchedoftheearth)