As you might imagine, this week I’ve had more conversations about race than is typical, and to my surprise, the notion of “not seeing color” has come up more than once. I didn’t think this was as common an ideology as it seems to be.
Therefore, I am revising my topic schedule.
LENT. Day 5.
Speaking from my own life experience, I think it’s easy as a white kid to hear people talk about “not seeing color,” and to latch onto that as a thing which sounds worthy of repeating, and most importantly, seems like a good strategy for proving you’re not a racist, or attempting to not actually BE racist, without actually digging in and forming your own educated perspective.
It sounds nice that we wouldn’t “SEE color.”
But I have to tell you something – it’s actually not.
It is actually… racist.
It is the epitome of white privilege.
“The core of ‘I don’t see color,’ is ‘I don’t see my own color, I don’t see difference because my race and culture is the center of the universe.’” – Randy Ross
In order to pursue racial justice, we – white people – MUST obviously move past this way of thinking.
When you say that you don’t see color, what you’re really meaning is that you’re going to pretend, in your mind, that the person of color you’re faced with, is the same as you.
That sameness will default, in your mind, to whiteness.
This color blindness takes away the uniqueness of people of color.
It negates their experiences, their culture, and the significance of their personal and community narrative.
Color blindness prevents racial justice by ignoring the differences which cause that injustice.
The reality is this: when you fail to see color, you can’t see bias and you can’t truly see racism.
“Stripping people of a fundamental aspect of their identity by claiming not to see color is dehumanizing.” – Dani Bostick
“Once you view everyone through a colorblind – white – lens, you deny the reality that non-white people face.
After police shot and killed Philando Castile, a black man, the Governor of Minnesota asked, “Would this have happened if those passengers, the driver here were white? I don’t think it would have.” Philando Castile’s blackness is essential to an honest narrative of his death. Colorblindness assumes that a white man would have been shot in a similar manner that day.” – Dani Bostick
I believe that those who proclaim color blindness are well intentioned, and since this injustice is unintentional, I believe that you WILL do better as you learn, grow, and know better.
I leave you with this, a lesson that is hard to swallow after a lifetime of a white washed mentality…
“Acknowledging differences is not racist; it is the opposite of racist.”
RESOURCE LINKS IN COMMENTS.
If you feel like reading even more: let’s imagine this differently.
BONUS CONTENT: A SHORT STORY, “BOB HAS NO HANDS.”
You meet a new person, Bob. Bob has recently lost both of his hands in a terrible accident. Life looks very different for him than it does for you. He’s explaining to you some of the reasons things are really hard in his life. He can’t function in this world the way the world was made – for people who have two hands.
You smile, sweetly, and say, “Bob, when I look at you, I don’t see your missing hands. I see you the same as me.”
Can you see, now, how preposterous that sounds?
You dismiss all the opportunities to connect and empathize.
All the opportunities to understand the humanity of the individual in front of you.
You are pretending he has all the same ease that you do.
It’s easy for you to say you see him the same. You don’t live the life Bob does.
Can you see how painfully privileged a perspective that is?