Color Blind: Progressive or Problematic?

Madeline Runyon
mrunyon@lc.edu

 

I’m sure it’s safe to assume that everyone has at one time or another heard another person say “I’m not racist. I don’t even see color!”

So, what’s behind this phrase? Is this the best approach to dismantling racism or is it actually a problematic stance which further perpetuates a problematic stance?

The first question to ask before getting too far ahead of ourselves is quite simple. What is wrong with seeing color and why must we treat differences as an issue or something to be hidden?

Differences should be celebrated and should not be dismissed. The things about us that are not the same as others should not be forgotten or ignored. Individuality on any scale is part of what makes us human and there is no reason to ignore something as beautiful and special as having different skin colors.

Another thing that is wrong with being color blind is that by erasing ethnicity and race, we are refusing to acknowledge the problematic mind set and stances that have previously and still are instituted. Systematic oppression is easily erased from the narrative by refusing to accept differences.

Another problem arises in how we aren’t equating all people as the same regardless of our attempts to do so. We need more than just equality.

We need equity. Instead of treating everyone in the exact same fashion, we must take note of differences and work to create sameness through giving everyone what they need to be on the same playing field as others.

Individuals who claim to be color blind usually come from a genuine place of wishing to be helpful but just don’t realize that their statement feeds into systematic racism.

For those of you who find yourselves saying this, don’t fret! Simply identify what is wrong with your language and adapt as a result. This is a call for change and progress, not a condemnation of any sorts.

Language is fluid and because of that, it is easy to alter your vocabulary and devise new meanings and explanations to shape what is happening in the world. When error is found in phrasing, the obvious answer is simply to change and move forward in a positive approach.

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