Updated: Jun 4, 2020
I received a text from a good friend of mine this morning, who mentioned she had "recently come under fire" for explaining how she broke generations of family racism by raising her children to "not see color." We had a quick but powerful text conversation about the good intent, but fallacy in her philosophy.
In the midst of the continued racism in our country heightened by the latest senseless killing of George Floyd, she and many other non-black Americans are "talking, guiding, searching, and stumbling around here" trying to have the "right" conversations and say the right things to make "it" better. To address our text conversation, I'm re-posting my blog post from August 2016.
It seems the question of race or color is as much a conversation as the weather these days. It’s an interesting question and one that has quickly divided people who would have otherwise not given it a second thought. To answer the question, we first have to ask ourselves “do we see color?” I would surmise that unless you are color blind, you absolutely see color. Healthy grass is green. The sky is of course Carolina blue. All blood is a shade of red. Color is all around us. When we see dark grey clouds, we associate the color with rain and storms. Color is an identifier. Most children learn their colors in pre-school. If it were not important, we would erase that from the educational curriculum. However, because color is important, we as parents go to great lengths to ensure our children know their colors. On every government based application, there is a place to identify your race. Why? It is because someone deems it to be important. So when I hear someone say “I don’t see race or color” or “I was raised to not see race,” I have to ask more questions.
It is a fair statement to say you were not raised with prejudice. It is also fair to say that perhaps you grew up in diverse environments that did not lend itself to segregation or prejudice, so you do not have some general biases about a specific race of people. However, for one to say they do not see color is perhaps simply improper phrasing based on the fact that by default, we all see and identify colors. A person would be hard pressed to walk up to me for the first time and not recognize that I am a black female. I’m not light skinned. I’m not of mixed ethnicity. I am a black woman…and I want to be recognized as such. I have had numerous conversations with people who are bothered by statements like “I don’t see color.” Here is why that statement is problematic. Race is one element of diversity, along with being female, gay or lesbian, as examples. To not recognize one’s race is making a choice not to recognize the diversity that person represents. A team of homogenous people, whether all black, all white, all female or all male will not be nearly as effective as a diverse team. Numerous studies have proven this to be true. A person’s race, whether Asian or Indian, brings with it certain life experiences. Those individual experiences are what contribute to diversity of thought and creativity.
The truth is we see color. The question is “should we see color?” The answer is a resounding yes. I think people get confused and believe if they “see color or race,” it is an acknowledgement of racism or prejudice. That could not be further from the truth. God made each of us as intended, colors and all. To ignore the beauty of his creations would be a disservice to him and to those of us who believe diversity is a good thing. I am proud of my race as I’m sure you are of yours. In the spirit of fully embracing each other and the benefits of diversity, let’s not ignore it.