What do you mean when you say you are “color blind” or that you “don’t see color”?
In my experience, you are saying that you don’t assign negative meaning to a person’s skin color. You are saying that you are not racist or prejudice. You are saying that you truly judge someone on the content of their character, not the color of their skin.
And you want to mean this, I know you do. The conversation is uncomfortable and sweeping it under the rug feels a whole lot easier.
Because you have friends of various ethnic and racial identities. You may have even fostered or adopted outside of your race. Maybe you voted for our Black president. Maybe you are angry at the injustice we have seen for young Black men at the hands of law enforcement. Maybe you value all lives as sacred and mourn a death the same regardless of the race, religion or background of that person.
But here is the thing, our desire to maintain our colorblindness will keep us stagnant. For we have made progress but we still have a long way to go.
May we not forget how much further we have to travel to bring His kingdom to Earth for all. Because all men ARE CREATED EQUAL but all men do not experience an equal reality.
Because even if you want to believe that you do not assign meaning to skin color, society won’t let it go so easily. It is deeply ingrained. It takes unpacking, it takes assigning new meaning. It takes CELEBRATING DIVERSITY and ACKNOWLEDGING COLOR. It takes acknowledging the racism in all of us, challenging our privilege and it takes GETTING UNCOMFORTABLE.
I remember being in a class called “Institutional Racism” at Temple. I remember thinking that I was just there to observe others learn, to see their metaphorical light bulb turn on. I figured I had already sorted this “race thing” out. I had Black friends, I had a godson who was Black, I voted for our Black president. I even went to Africa and loved so many people there (Shuddering at the thought of this mindset now).
My professor, a middle-aged man originally from Ghana said, “Everyone has racism in them. It is not claiming you “aren’t racist” but instead, looking inside yourself, challenging your views and unpacking the meaning media and society have taught you to assign to different skin colors”.
He said, “Because you see, there is only one race. The human race. We have built up “race” as a social construct, one in which we have derived a system of power and subordination based on the pigment of someone’s skin “.
This man helped me start to unplug my ears, to uncover my eyes. He helped me to start looking within as an answer to the “race problem” in our world. Instead of considering myself the exception, I now began to consider myself part of the problem.
It is easy for us to say that we are “colorblind” or that we “don’t see color” because we don’t have to. For my white brothers and sisters, this is what white privilege is. The PRIVILEGE to not experience the world as one who is discriminated against on the basis of skin color.
Challenging our privilege and unpacking the meaning we have assigned to skin color takes time. I’m convinced it is a never ending journey. But it is a journey worth starting and I invite you to start on this journey with me.
We can do better. We must do better.