Why I Hate The Phrase, “I Don’t See Color”

by Roni

Why Do You Say I Don’t See Color? 

Do you say the phrase “I don’t see color”? Let me explain why that needs 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”.


These are all sentences that really don’t mean anything, just one of those things people say because it sounds good.

Stop saying it.

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.

Why I hate The Phrase, “I Don’t See Color”

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?

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Do you really not see all of this melanin? Come on! You know you do. Like my dress? Get yours here.

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.

My color extends from the top of my head to the top of my feet. You should appreciate this color I so proudly wear that was handed down to me by my ancestors.  They survived the Middle Passage and survived the atrocities 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 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.

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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. Why? Because while living in America I can never not see color, because I am constantly reminded of mine.

You see all this melanin. You have to.Get your bathing suit here. 

Tell me this, if you were walking down the street and saw a Black man walking towards you with a hoodie on and his hands in his pockets, 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 the home of a Black person? 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. In Senegal, I saw the lack of variety in the shades of blackness and it was fabulous.

While in Egypt, I noticed how northern Egyptians were much lighter than southern Egyptians. The differences were  beautiful and enlightening.

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.

You see the colors in this pic? You know you see those beautiful men behind me. What about my dress? Isn’t it pretty? Want one? It’s less than $25 and I’ve had it for 5 years. Get one similar here.

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?



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Leave a Comment


Nicole November 17, 2013 - 1:44 pm

I totally agree. I think that phrase sentiment is absolute BS. It is impossible to not see color. It is one thing to attempt to not let color influence your actions, but to claim to not even see it…is just not cool in my book.

Roni November 17, 2013 - 2:04 pm

Yep. I’m happy I’m not the only one! I appreciate you stopping by!

Talei Sinclair July 17, 2014 - 7:46 am

Let me tell you why I say I don’t see colour anymore. What is colour? Melanin. And people who have a problem with people who say they don’t recognise the amount of melanin you have is ridiculous. You are in essence saying your skin colour determines who YOU ARE, when that is exactly the opposite of what the good in humanity is trying to achieve. I don’t want to see colour, I want to see minds and souls and characters. You are making a really silly fuss over melanin and pigmentation. And not “seeing colour” doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate the differences in people. Everyone is a work of art and we can all admire and accept each other’s differences without it being a DIVIDING FACTOR.

Sorry for the shouting but I feel people that want to constantly be recognised for being black are a hindrance to progress.

Background: mum is Fijian, Dad is Jamaican. Born and raised in London. Well travelled.

Roni July 22, 2014 - 2:30 pm

You’re totally entitled to your opinion, I just don’t agree with it. But I thank you for commenting!

Chuter August 10, 2015 - 4:48 am

You said all that only to point out your parents have a wonderful heritage and very interesting story in how they met. There is a reason you have the beautiful skin tone you have and it has to do with your history, not a random amount of melatonin. What does your history have to do with judgement? How does having a history and heritage take away from the person you are? I am proud of my heritage as it’s a really interesting story about how I came to be. It doesn’t make my story any better than anyone else’s. It’s just my story. Oh and I’m black, Scottish, Filipino, and French.

Roni August 17, 2015 - 11:04 pm

Not really understanding your comment. But I do appreciate you reading my post and commenting!

Guyanesesista November 17, 2013 - 2:01 pm

I detest the saying. Everytime someone says they don’t see colour I get nauseated. Everyone sees colour, it’s what you do with that information that shows whether you are racist or not. I see colour all the damn time. It’s the first information we process when we see people.

Roni November 17, 2013 - 2:03 pm

Exactly. But I do think people say it because they think it’s nice. Thanks so much for commenting!

Leigh Hines June 6, 2020 - 11:21 am

“Everyone sees colour, it’s what you do with that information that shows whether you are racist or not.”

Thank you for this article. As a white person, I have been guilty of using this phrase to other white people when talking about my children. My children started school in a Downtown Raleigh magnet school with a diverse population of all races. There is no majority race at our school, but Asian is the highest, followed by Black, White, Hispanic, Native American then Other, I guess, I realize now after reading this that perhaps the best thing to say is that “my children have no preconceived notions/beliefs about people based on their skin color.” This also applies to socio-economic preconceptions, too and I really love that quality which my children have learned at a young age. I am going to admit as a 51-year-old white woman, I can also learn from them. With people, it’s about morals, character, and similar interests that should bring people together and one should also embrace differences. When a person of any race is narrow-minded then that festers even more issues. Thank you.

Janet Heath June 25, 2020 - 5:27 pm

I think people say it to be nice, as well. However, I can see why it would be offensive if you’re interpreting it literally rather than what is really being said. It’s much deeper than what appears on the surface. Yes, we all have different amounts of melanin which makes up various skin tones. In spite of this, we all bleed the same color!! We are all human beings. If you’re a good person you’ve probably earned respect from others. On the flip side, if you’re mean, people avoid you. The individual person is in control of the kind of person he or she, with varying degrees of melanin, wants to be. It determines how many people are treated. However, there are many people that are racist and act accordingly. I can’t explain or define there beliefs but personally feel they hate life altogether and are looking for reasons to fight and destroy. I honestly believe that people such as this, hate themselves, as well. I could go on and on but just wanted to say thank you for your post. I enjoyed reading it and am interested in how people, other than myself, think. We all learn from each other. Thank you for sharing ❤

Ravendelana November 17, 2013 - 3:37 pm

Girrrrl. I used to work with a bunch of people who “didn’t see color”. All that they really meant is that they didn’t see me. I see color, clearly and it’s not a bad thing. I think the friend you mentioned (and many others) are missing the blessing in having children around. If we as adults could see things as simply as they do, we’d be so much better off.

Roni November 17, 2013 - 8:55 pm

Yes so true. Kids are so honest and if we could learn from them we could be so much better off. Her sone was being honest and there was nothing wrong with what he said. Thanks for commenting!

Carly Findlay November 17, 2013 - 4:35 pm

By saying they don’t see colour they’re saying they don’t see your identity. They’re not wanting to associate you with belonging to the other category that they are not comfortable with. Great post 🙂

Roni November 17, 2013 - 4:38 pm

Thank you for understanding what I meant!

LeSha Brewer November 17, 2013 - 8:59 pm

It’s funny because I just responded on someone’s status regarding that very quote. I feel that a person should just say they aren’t racist. That phrase, to me, is a cop out for some and can be a generalized statement to not cause arise in conversation. On the other hand, a lot of people use the expression to say that they love everyone and misunderstand the statement themselves.

Great post!

Elizabeth November 17, 2013 - 9:41 pm

It’s so important that we teach our children to recognize differences in people in a respectful and honest way. Without judging, without lying, and without telling them they don’t see color. That advances nothing. We can change the way we see race in this country by recognizing and celebrating diversity, not teaching our children it’s ‘rude’ to notice it and point it out. I also think it’s important to help lessen the stigma of talking about race by allowing our children to ask questions openly and honestly. That’s the only way they learn and stifling their interest by telling them they don’t see something that they obviously do only forces them to stop asking and start assuming. Great post!

Roni November 17, 2013 - 10:04 pm

What a wonderful response. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts.

Molly Wheeler November 17, 2013 - 10:43 pm

I think adults say that out of a desire to not seem racist but it’s not terribly genuine as you discuss. I recently finished teaching preschool-aged children in Tanzania. All were very different skin colors and one of my favorite pictures is of everyone’s hands in a circle. They loved to identify themselves and talk about their different colors- how they were all beautiful. We see colors and that should all be ok to discuss! However, let’s see other things in addition. We aren’t the same- thank goodness for that.

Roni November 17, 2013 - 11:04 pm

You should have a blog! Teaching kids in Tanzania…how wonderful. And yes, it’s ok to see colors! All the different colors of everyone is beautiful. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

Leigh Hines June 6, 2020 - 11:26 am

And this is what my children’s school does. And our yearbook cover this year shows just that.

And you are right. I am guilty of using that expression to other white people when the issue of race comes up.

Kiwi November 18, 2013 - 1:48 am

Very Well Written. Yes after reading this I completely understand where you are coming from, but also I can see how people can say they don’t. Of course you physically see color and that isnt going to go away. Yes it should be acknowledged, just as if you can notice someone’s eye color, hair color or even texture. Its there and when people use the phrase, they are acting like “color” doesn’t exist because something racist might come up {in their minds}.

I feel God made everyone in a variety of shades, personality traits, hair textures and more. God love variety – but it only become a problem when you discriminate on that variety. I will admit, at times when I interact with people {especially of another race} of course you notice it at first, but I love when the blurred line of color doesn’t even matter anymore and it becomes more about a spiritual connection and good energy. So it’s not that I don’t see color, I just acknowledge energy over skin hues more!

Roni November 18, 2013 - 8:41 am

What a lovely comment. Thank you.

Jamie Rippy ( November 18, 2013 - 9:42 am

I see color… I see it everywhere. My kids see it too. I’m working hard to teach them that the color of someone’s skin is just another part of who they are. I’m white and from the south. I can attest to the fact that racism is alive, even within my own family and I don’t turn a blind eye to it, but I try to do what I can to change it. Color is there, but it doesn’t change a person’s value.

Roni November 18, 2013 - 10:07 pm

I like the last part of your comment. That is so true! Well, I like the whole comment 🙂

Tomes Edition November 18, 2013 - 9:48 am

Nicely written! People just say those things to cover up what they really mean. We all see color even though some people don’t want to admit it. It’s not the color of our skin I’m worried about but the content of the heart. Life is too short to worry about small things, live, love and enjoy life.

Roni November 18, 2013 - 10:05 pm

Yep. I totally agree!

Leah Elizabeth Locklear November 18, 2013 - 12:38 pm

Wow what an amazing post! It really gives you so much to think about. Being that my father is of another ethnicity than what most see as “Standard” I grew up in a very diverse culturally accepting family. I watched my father have to go through racism towards him in the workplace and how he always took the high road and showed me too “SEE” all the colors of everyone. We are all beautiful and unless you are blind it should not go unnoticed!! Thanks for sharing! ~Leah~

Roni November 18, 2013 - 10:05 pm

I’m sorry your dad had to deal with that but I’m happy you were able to learn from it. Thank you for stopping by!

Kristen November 18, 2013 - 4:14 pm

I see color and I love color. I think people use that term because everyone tries to be so PC – to a fault. I am not offended if you refer to me as the “white woman with red hair”.. that’s a pretty accurate physical description and I would hope that I don’t offend you if I referred to you as a “black woman with a pixie haircut”. I love the differences in race and religion that surround us. We all have cultural differences and we should all share those with each other. I am not a black woman (although I’ll argue that inside every redhead is a black woman trying to get out and vice versa 😉 ) so I can’t pretend to understand the racial division that you experience on a daily basis but I can make sure that it will never happen from someone in my family. The color of our skins does not define who we are. How we act does that. Fabulous post.

Roni November 18, 2013 - 10:03 pm

As long as you say, “The stunningly beautiful Black woman with the pixie haircut” then we will be just fine. I’ve always wanted red hair…thanks for your lovely comment.

Kristen Daukas November 18, 2013 - 10:06 pm

Well, what else would I say?! 🙂

Dena November 18, 2013 - 8:23 pm

I read the post & agree! I WANT my color to be seen! I want my gender to be seen. I want all of myself to be seen. To ignore these things is to ignore my identity & is disrespectful of my history. I am more than my outside but it isn’t a terrible place to start in getting to know me. It’s a terrible place to start in judging me.

Roni November 18, 2013 - 10:04 pm

I love the last line of your comment! That’s brilliant. Thank you for sharing that with me.

Michelle November 19, 2013 - 12:02 am

Of course we all see color. I’ve never thought of it the way you just said it though. It makes things more interesting that we are not all the same, that we come from different backgrounds and cultures. Who a person is inside…how they act and treat others…is what is important, not the color of their skin.

Roni November 22, 2013 - 10:39 pm

I think color differences are interesting as well. Happy I was able to share with you a different way of thinking about it!

Lori Wescott November 19, 2013 - 6:50 pm

As someone who is partially colorblind I’ve never even used that phrase. While I do live in the south, I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by loving, open-minded people of all different shades. I have a relative who HAS used that phrase from time to time and she is married to a black man. We have had disagreements over what I’ve called her “oversensitivity.” It’s definitely a touchy subject that so many people are afraid to broach. I agree that we should recognize and embrace our differences. Thanks for the insight.

Roni November 19, 2013 - 7:44 pm

“Oversensitivity”. That’s the perfect word. Thanks for understanding.

nylse November 21, 2013 - 8:16 pm

When I worked in corporate, people saw color but were always afraid to identify people by their color. It was sometimes funny, because you could see people dancing around in trying to describe a person and if they had just mentioned the person’s color in addition to everything else, the awkward conversation would have ended alot sooner. The people that don’t see color are generally those that are white – I’m not sure why it is so hard for white people to acknowledge the various hues but that has been my experience. I try to remove the discomfort by not being afraid to say black, or white or brown whenever I’m in conversation and this comes. I don’t want anyone to be color blind as it is a deficiency; I want people to see all of me and that includes my color.

Roni November 22, 2013 - 10:37 pm

That’s always funny for me as well. There will be a Black man and instead of saying, “The Black guy.” they will say every other thing you could possible say about him when they could just say his color. I actually don’t know why it’s hard for some either…thanks for commenting.

Dana Carmel November 26, 2013 - 1:41 pm

You hit the nail on the head with this post. People who claim they don’t see color are either lying or are completely delusional. As you wonderfully articulated, it’s so important that we see and appreciate each others’ differences. And you’re also right that so many people in this country don’t want to talk about slavery. So many black people, even. I recently saw “Twelve Years a Slave”. Such a powerful movie. Many black people I know haven’t seen it and don’t want to see it because they’re tired of slave movies. But this movie is told from such a different angle. And while it was sad and depressing, it showed me a different side of our history – blacks who were either born free or who obtained their freedom and were then sold back into slavery. Slavery is a part of our history. It’s nothing that we should feel ashamed of. I’d probably feel more ashamed if my ancestors were the ones inflicting such cruelty on other humans. Anyway, I digress. The point is, I couldn’t have written this post any better myself. Thanks for sharing!

Roni November 26, 2013 - 5:34 pm

I haven’t seen that movie yet…I need to get my mind right before I do. Thank you for reading my post and your kind words, I appreciate it!

Arnitris November 2, 2015 - 9:42 pm

Thanks so much for this. I am Brown and I want you to see it! I live it. #blmgirls

Pradish P November 5, 2019 - 5:25 am

Completely agree with your point of view on this subject