It’s a word that we equate with tolerance. A word that we consider the opposite of “racist.” It’s a noble dream, to be able to see everyone as the same regardless of their skin color. We are all equal. We are all human. And that’s the opposite of racism, isn’t it?
We don’t use the term colorblind in my house, and the reason isn’t why you think.
Yes, I think all people are equal. We are all children of God. We all have the same spirit inside of us. We’re made up of the same components. But we’re not the same. And in my opinion, we shouldn’t be the same. To say we’re the same is to belittle the differences that make us who we are. Moreover, to say that we’re all the same is to establish that one “sameness” is better than all the others. To say we’re colorblind is to say that we see everyone as the same as us.
And who is it that we hear saying this? White people like me. We’ve become familiar with the term “whitewash” in terms of art, literature, music, culture. Isn’t that essentially the same as saying that we don’t see color? Isn’t it the same as saying that we see everyone as the same as us? It’s very subtle, so subtle that we don’t even really know we’re doing it.
Now, I’m not trying to accuse anybody of anything. I’m as guilty as anyone. I’m just trying to say that language matters. When we talk about race, how are we heard? My black and brown sisters, what do you hear when I say “colorblind?” Are you hearing me say that I accept you for who you are, as black women? As Asian, Hispanic, Arabic? Or are you hearing that you are no different than me, a white woman?
The fact is that the color of our skin does have a lot to do with who we are. Blacks and whites are not the same culturally. And those differences are not bad. Rather, they are a vibrant celebration of the multiculturalism that we claim to cherish here in America. Moreover, being different allows us to see things through a different lens. Different cultures offer different perspectives on the same issues. Different does not mean unequal.
The cause of colorblindness, I think, is that we’re scared of being different. In short, I think that we’re conditioned to say these words and think these thoughts because once upon a time people used these differences to justify some pretty horrific things. But instead of pretending they don’t exist, we have to find a way to embrace them and celebrate them. Learn to let them augment who we are. Understand that we’re a conglomeration of different cultures, ideas, religions, holidays, and celebrations.
So in 2018, you won’t hear me say that I’m colorblind.
Instead, you will see me accepting people for who they are, and that includes the color of their skin and the differences that brings to the table. Instead of pretending we’re the same, I will acknowledge that we’re different. And that’s okay. Different doesn’t mean we’re more or less; it means our God is creative and that he knew that making us all the same would be, well, boring.