Welcome to my new series on this blog! Once a month I will take a topic that is close to me and offer my thoughts on the subject. As always, I want to have your input on how I am doing and topics you would love to see. Thanks for checking me out, and thank you for your constant support!
This statement may seem very controversial but I am not one to shy away from truthful controversy. Here it goes: I am a black man. My skin is brown, as are my eyes. My hair is black and curly. I have many features that are typical of black people, such as a wide nose and big lips. Both of my parents are black, my brothers are black as well. This is literally part of who I am and my identity. So let’s talk about why saying “I’m colorblind” does more harm than any good you’re intending.
Whenever I hear someone say “I don’t see color” it means one of a few implications. The first that comes to mind is you’re attempting to minimize the effects of race/racism in our society. Racism has had deadly effects on the world. White supremacy has been the reason for many persons of color (POC) being murdered and discriminated against. In an attempt to fight against racism many people, specifically white people have adopted the mantra of not seeing the color of other people. Trying to negate the effect of racism by painting everyone (specifically POC) with the same colorblind brush does nothing. The effects of racism and white supremacy in society cannot be removed by just refusing to see color of another person. The only way to get rid of racism is to attack it head on and destroy the constructs that have benefited from it for centuries (read more about my thoughts here).
The second implication from “not seeing color” is when people want to minimize the accomplishments of persons of color. Recently, the NCAA Division 1 wrestling championships were held in St. Louis. Of the 10 individual weight class national champions, 5 of the wrestlers are black. However instead of celebrating this historic milestone in a sport where only 12% of the athletes are black, many people are attempting decry this as causing more racial division. This particular incident is not isolated, whenever PoC break down barriers many critics first turn to “why make this about race?” The answer is quite simple: in the past people have been beaten, denied health care, harassed, and even killed because while they were black. Why is it such a big deal if we celebrate a positive accomplishment while they were being black?
The last implication that can be associated from not seeing color is trying to make yourself more comfortable with your internalized white supremacy. Now, before closing this post, hear me out. We (yes myself included) have been taught to believe that white people in places in popular culture is ‘normal’. Don’t believe it? March 9, 1959 is the “birthdate” of one of the world’s most popular toys ever, Barbie. The first black Barbie doll, not Chrstie, but Barbie doll? 1980. For years, Barbie was seen as the the standard, the measuring stick for not only toy sales but also beauty standards for millions of American children for decades. When the black Barbie was introduced, it mattered. But there was still people who claimed “we have the the original Barbie, why do we need to change?” Another example comes from when Michael B. Jordan was cast as the Human Torch/Johnny Storm, a white character originally, in the Fantastic Four reboot back in 2015. The idea that anything not in line with the normal view, can be seen as threat. In some people’s mind the best way to not acknowledge their internalized white supremacy is to claim to be colorblind.
The best way to claim to be colorblind is to see the color of those around you. It is not controversial to say that I am black that is a fact. To imply that my blackness should be downplayed just to make others comfortable is a shameful and imprudent idea. My blackness or anyone’s blackness should not threaten anyone who is not. America has used blackness as a weapon since 1915, and I refuse to have my identity and the way the good Lord knit me together cast aside in the name of your personal comfort.
In short, claiming to be colorblind does not help anyone least of all persons of color. The problem has never been white people, it has and always will be white supremacy and those who try to uphold what it values. You want to be an ally to all? See my color, acknowledge it and understand that it matters.
That’s my thoughts, what about you? Leave a message for me if you have some thoughts!
Take care and Be Well!