I wrote this a couple of years ago but I thought it would be good to revisit this post today. Would love your thoughts in the comments!
Do you say this phrase? Let me explain why I want you to stop.
I hear people say, “I don’t see color” or “I don’t care if you’re pink or green” or “color shouldn’t matter, we are all one race”. Ugh. These are all sentences that really don’t mean anything, just one of those things people say because it sounds good.
We all know that color shouldn’t matter but it does. In America it most certainly does and acting like you don’t see the color of someone standing in front of you is ridiculous. You are engaging in denial if you think you don’t see color. Please stop it.
I think this phrase hides the underlining truth in our country that no one seems to really be able to discuss…racism. Racism is alive and thriving in our country and you saying that you don’t see color really doesn’t help. I know you think it does, but it doesn’t. Why? Because unless you are blind or have something wrong with your eyes, you most definitely see color.
You see the varying hues of skin that are living in this vast country, you HAVE to see the differences in the shape of our eyes, noses, and lips. You see the different textures of hair that grow out of the heads of those that don’t look like you. Why would you not want to see all of that variety?
Somehow in our country it has become bad to see color. It is now acceptable for someone to tell me, “I don’t see color.” Well, I’m Black and I want you to see me. I want you to notice the rich brownness of my skin and how when the sun hits it I glow. I want you to see that my color extends from the top of my head to the top of my feet. I want you to appreciate this color I so proudly wear that was handed down to me by my ancestors that survived the Middle Passage, then survived the autrocities of slavery that our country never wants to really discuss.
I want you to admire the way my skin turns a reddish hue of mahogany when it is exposed to the Caribbean rays of sunlight. I want you to see all of that and understand that even though it is different than you, it is equal. And when I am not treated equally I want you to understand my frustration.
It is a fact that I am sometimes treated differently because of my skintone. I live in America and it’s a reality I have been shown from infancy so when I tell you this I want you to understand. I am accustomed to it and I live with it. I want you to see that when that happens it isn’t me playing the race card, but it’s a fact that I deal with on a daily basis.
I want you to understand that wanting you to see my color and appreciate it doesn’t mean I want you to ask me ridiculous questions about my race. When you say to me, “I don’t see color.” that proves to me that you and I live in completely different realms of reality because while living in America I can never not see color because I am constantly reminded of mine.
Tell me this, if you were walking down the street and saw a Black man with a hoodie on with his hands in his pockets walking toward you, you really think you wouldn’t notice his color? If your child was going on a date and you saw that the date was Black, you mean to tell me you wouldn’t notice that fact? Come on now, of course you would.
Maybe you are one of those people that really wouldn’t mind. Maybe you truly believe that you absolutely don’t care about the color of someone’s skin. But answer me this, how many people of a different color have been to your house to eat? How many times have you broken bread in a person of colors home? When you reach for the phone to call one of your dearest friends, are any of them a different hue than you?
If traveling has taught me anything, it has shown me that variety is lovely. When I was in Senegal I saw the lack of variety in the shades of blackness. When I was in Egypt I noticed how northern Egyptians were much lighter than southern Egyptians. When I was in Sweden I noticed the beauty of the women as they walked down the street and how their skin looked nothing like mine.
When I was in Russia how could I not see that I was the only Black person for miles? How could I not notice all of these things? Does the fact that I took note of the differences mean I’m racist? Of course not. It means I am normal and I definitely see color. I just don’t let it influence who I am friends with, where I travel, or who I choose to love.
A friend of mine was upset because her son said to her, “Mommy, what is the Brown man doing?” She thought that was offensive. The little boy saw a police officer standing with another officer and the only way he could distinguish between the two was his color. What is wrong with that? Why did my friend feel like her son said something offensive? If a child sees color, why do we have to act like we don’t?
Saying you don’t see color stops us from having discussions that really matter. It stops us from being able to talk to one another about how difficult it can be to live in this country. When you tell me you don’t see my color, you are basically telling me that you don’t see a huge part of who I am and that doesn’t help me. What I want you to say is, “I see your color. And it’s beautiful.”
Do you use this phrase? If so, do you understand why I hate it? For those of you who have heard someone say this to you, how do you feel?